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Dean Spanley (2008)

PG | | Comedy, Drama | 12 December 2008 (UK)
2:40 | Trailer

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Set in Edwardian England where upper lips are always stiff and men from the Colonies are not entirely to be trusted, Fisk Senior has little time or affection for his son, but when the pair visit an eccentric Indian, they start a strange journey that eventually allows the old man to find his heart.



, (novel) (as Baron Dunsany)
7 wins & 7 nominations. See more awards »



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Cast overview, first billed only:
... Fisk Junior
... Dean Spanley
... Wrather
... Fisk Senior
... Mrs. Brimley
... Swami Nala Prash
... Nawab of Ranjiput
... Harrington Fisk
... 1st Lady
Angela Clerkin ... 2nd Lady
... Marriot
Shaughan Seymour ... Wine Shop Proprietor
Charlotte Graham ... Woman in Cloisters
Haydon Downing ... Boy in Cloisters
... Foxy Lady


Each Thursday, a man approaching middle age calls upon his father, aged, caustic, nihilistic, and emotionally distant, perhaps from the loss of a son in the Boer War and his wife soon after. On this day, the son suggests they attend a visiting guru's lecture on the transmigration of souls. There they chat with a vicar and a soldier of fortune; dinner follows. Over glasses of Hungarian Tokay, the vicar, Dean Spanley, tells a story of friendship, freedom, and reincarnation. In what earthly way could this tale connect father and son? Written by <jhailey@hotmail.com>

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis


From the classic novel by Lord Dunsany See more »


Comedy | Drama

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated PG for some thematic material and mild language | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:



Official Sites:

Official site [UK]




Release Date:

12 December 2008 (UK)  »

Also Known As:

Dynas Spenlis  »


Box Office

Opening Weekend:

£42,898 (United Kingdom), 14 December 2008, Limited Release
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Show more on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:


Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


The cricket in the ballroom scene is filmed in the same room of Elveden Hall, Suffolk, England, UK as the trade conference in Tangier in The Living Daylights (1987), and the balcony from where James Bond shoots General Pushkin can clearly be seen. See more »


Fisk Junior: I wouldn't call it a lie, puss. More like a truth deferred. Nothing worse.
See more »


Justorum Animae
Performed by Musica Sacra Orchestra (as Musica Sacra)
Written by William Byrd
See more »

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User Reviews

Life as a Dog...Life without Tears
27 December 2010 | by See all my reviews

What a great movie.

Peter O'Toole's character, old Mr. Fiske, believes himself to be impervious to pain. There are things that happen and are simply inevitable. There's no point in mourning. This belief drives a wedge between him and his son (Jeremy Northam), since O'Toole doesn't mourn properly for the loss of his other son or for his wife, who apparently died of grief.

Enter Sam Neill's character, Dean Spanley, who believes himself to be the reincarnation of a dog, and remembers with greatest joy the fun of rolling in dung and tearing apart rabbits. Young Fiske (Northam) discovers this and plies the man with Tokay to get Spanley to open up about his past life. And the Tokay -- supplied by a strange and rough but very funny fellow named Wrather (Bryan Brown) -- works its magic, getting Spanley to reminisce about the good old days as a dog even as both young and old Fiske AND Wrather all realize something critical about the dogs Spanley remembers.

I won't say more, as I don't want to spoil it; I will simply say I loved it. I don't believe in reincarnation, but this is a movie any dog lover can enjoy, as well as anyone who's ever had a strained relationship with a parent or child. You're left with a smile and a bit of mist over the eyes and perhaps a wild impulse to go and roll in some dung, or chase a rabbit.

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