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The Spanish Prisoner (Widescreen/Full Screen) (Bilingual)

Price: CDN$ 116.30
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Product Details

  • Actors: Steve Martin, Ben Gazzara, Campbell Scott, Rebecca Pidgeon, Ricky Jay
  • Directors: David Mamet
  • Writers: David Mamet
  • Producers: J.E. Beaucaire, Jean Doumanian, Letty Aronson, Sarah Green
  • Format: Anamorphic, Closed-captioned, Color, Dolby, DVD-Video, Full Screen, Subtitled, Widescreen, NTSC
  • Language: English, Spanish
  • Subtitles: English, Spanish, French
  • Dubbed: French
  • Subtitles for the Hearing Impaired: English
  • Region: Region 1 (US and Canada This DVD will probably NOT be viewable in other countries. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Canadian Home Video Rating : Parental Guidance (PG)
  • Studio: Sony Pictures Home Entertainment
  • Release Date: Oct. 20 2003
  • Run Time: 110 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 3.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (131 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: 0767818113
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #45,715 in DVD (See Top 100 in DVD)

Product Description

Campbell Scott plays a green young technocrat who invents a secret and highly successful high-tech process that, it appears, most of the free world would like to get their hands on. His own company may not be dealing with him fairly, and competitors are lurking around every street corner and kiddie carousel in New York (not to mention Caribbean hideaways) hoping to steal, cajole, or trick him out of the formula. The plot is as full of switchbacks as a mountain highway, and the delights are in watching it unfold around Scott, who is not so much of a naif that he doesn't catch on that not only his formula, but his life, are in dire danger. Steve Martin is consummately assured--and scary as hell--as a wealthy big shot determined to come out on top. David Mamet's script is refreshingly free from his trademark mannerisms; it's his most satisfying film since 1987's House of Games. --Anne Hurley

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Customer Reviews

3.6 out of 5 stars

Most helpful customer reviews

Format: DVD
The art of the confidence game, or con, for short...very few manage to bring it to the screen as well or a clever as David Mamet, and The Spanish Prisoner (1997) is, while not in my opinion his best, but better than most, and certainly is a good display of Mamet's writing and style for direction. Written and directed by Mamet (House of Games, Glengarry Glen Ross, Wag the Dog), the film stars Campbell Scott, Steve Martin, Ben Gazzara, and Rebecca Pidgeon (who's married to Mamet).
Scott plays Joseph Ross, an inventor who creates a top secret mathematical formula of sorts intended to allow for the manipulation of the stock market somehow, and has the potential to make a lot, a whole lot, of money for the company he works for...problem is Ross is beginning to have doubts about receiving his fair share, what he believes he's entitled to, from the company that plans to utilize the formula. As he tries to negotiate an equitable agreement with the company, he meets a well to do businessman by the name of Julian 'Jimmy' Dell (Martin) to which they become friendly, with Jimmy even offering to assist Joseph by putting him in contact with a lawyer that deals with contract law and proprietary information. But nothing is what it seems in this film, as Joseph soon learns as he's accused of theft of the formula, and even murder, as evidence begins appearing that certainly points the finger at him, becoming the perfect patsy. Will he be able to fully understand the intricacies of the con and learn who's involved before he captured by the police and/or FBI? I know, but you'll just have to watch to find out...
I really enjoyed this film, and all its' intricate twists and turns.
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Format: DVD
...then I'll pass on the rest. Seriously, The Spanish Prisoner represents a decent movie idea soured by numerous miscasts, spotty acting, and deadful dialogue. I really can't believe the praise it was given when it came out. I really had to wonder if this was the same movie that the critics saw.
Steve Martin is quite good (a welcome change from his hammy, over-the-top comedy performances) and Campbell Scott could certainly hold his own, despite his character's too-flawless-to-be-believeable persona. Rebecca Pidgeon is terrible. Every time she appeared on screen, I just rolled my eyes, counting the seconds until she went away.
The premise certainly is interesting. I like plot twists just as much as anyone else, but the end of the film does not fill in the holes like other thrillers do (think The Usual Suspects). The pacing is really uneven and at times you're convinced that Mamet was directing a play and not a movie.
That can be blamed on Mamet's dumb dialogue. Rarely do I ever hear people speak the way they do in The Spanish Prisoner apart from other really bad dramas. The only suspension of disbelief is that you won't believe this came from such an experienced man.
I'm serious, if this is David Mamet's best movie, I'm out.
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By Andy Orrock on Dec 16 2003
Format: DVD
If you can look beyond the usual staccato Mametian dialogue and the uneveness always caused by casting Mamet's wife Rebecca Pidgeon in the leading female role, then you've got yourself a very fine movie - probably David Mamet's best as writer/director in my opinion. I know many people will choose 'House of Games,' but I thought the 'Prisoner' storyline was better, and I really like the work turned in by Mamet novices Campbell Scott (whose combination of brains and naivete drives the film), Ben Gazzara and especially Steve Martin, who plays totally against type here.
In the Mamet-penned 'Wag the Dog' we hear over and over again "It's a pageant." Replace that here with "It's a process." We hear over and over again about The Process. We never find out what exactly the Process is (that's not the point), but all actions and reactions in 'Prisoner' involve securing, stealing and resecuring The Process. It's a classic Mametian plot device and it works great here.
For Mamet fans, there's a subset of regulars, most notably Mamet house players Ricky Jay and Jerry Graff. ['Glengarry Glen Ross' fans ought to recognize that name.]
Also - be on the lookout for Ed O'Neill for a brief - but memorable - turn as an FBI Team Leader.
And keep your eyes on that suitcase.
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Format: VHS Tape
There's a little of the famous repetitive, stylized Mamet dialogue, especially in the beginning of this intriguing, tongue-in-cheek thriller, but mostly what director Mamet does is play it (almost) straight. The premise is a con, called "the Spanish Prisoner" con. Steve Martin is the chief con artist, Jimmy Dell, while Campbell Scott is the victim, Joe Ross, whose proprietary business formula--displayed prominently throughout the movie as a red bound notebook--is the booty.
Most of us are familiar with this con from our e-mail where it typically takes the form of an African or the Middle Eastern princess seeking help from us to escape from a corrupt society or an oppressive husband. We are advised that she has many millions of dollars but can't get them out of the country without our help in the form of a few thousand bucks for various fees, etc. If we send the money we are assured that we will get a significant percentage of the millions.
Here the come-on includes a dark-haired beauty we see only in passing and in photos. Playing her foil is Rebecca Pidgeon (Mamet's talented wife) as Susan Ricci, a somewhat ditzy secretary for Joe's company. At the beginning everything is opaque and intriguing. It's not clear who is who, and who can be trusted and who can't. Indeed if this movie had a theme it would be "you can't trust anybody." The real worry, however, seems to be whether Joe will get paid for his work. Mr. Klein (Ben Gazzara) keeps putting him off. And so it appears that we may be viewing another business and relationships satire for which Mamet is justly famous (e.g., Glengarry Glen Ross 1992), but after a bit we begin to see the sinister plot unfold.
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