The Spanish Prisoner (Widescreen/Full Screen) (Bilingual)
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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Top Customer Reviews
Taking its title from the con game, "The Spanish Prisoner" plays sleight of hand with the audience, its writer/director, Mamet, functioning as prestidigitator. The cards comprising the deck of the plot are played out before us, a hand is waved, and everything comes up aces. Casting, plot, and quintessential dialog provided by Mamet, all add up to one of the finest psycho-thrillers to hit the screen in a long, long time.
Campbell Scott plays Joe Ross, a vain young man who has created "The Process" that will net his company untold wealth - so untold that despite a final figure written on a blackboard for all the movers to see, we glimpse only Joe's beaming face. While on a Caribbean excursion to enlighten the powers of his corporate home, Joe meets Jimmy Dell (Steve Martin in a laudable casting decision against type). The mysterious Dell takes Joe under his wealthy wing and eventually asks a favor - that Joe deliver a package to Jimmy's sister when he returns to New York. Once on the plane, Joe's pert new secretary, Susan (Rebecca Pidgeon, Mamet's wife), lapses into a discussion concerning the fate of those asked to be mules for the drug trade. Joe immediately begins to question his taking of Jimmy's package and fears that he may have sabotaged his entire life in an act of Boy Scoutish good graces. Indeed he has, but not in the way he envisions.Read more ›
The director and writer, David Mamet, is both talented and prolific. His many writing credits include "Ronin", "Wag the Dog", "The Edge" and "The Untouchables". As good as his work is on big projects, he truly excels on smaller ones such as "The Spanish Prisoner", 1988's "Things Change", and 1987's "House of Games".
Reviewers relentlessly compare countless suspense thrillers to those of the master, Alfred Hitchcock. They cringe in horror at any remake of one of his films, even before it goes into production. Mamet's film follows the formula of the genre so perfectly that I suspect Hitch himself would have loved it and perhaps would not have seen an attempt to imitate his style.
What Mamet understands is that a thriller is not the same animal as a mystery. A thriller has less to do with who done it that it does with the suspense created by our trying to figure out how - or if - the main character is going to get out of the terrible mess he or she has gotten trapped in. I have always found this setting to be especially chilling, because it makes me think of a large spider's web.
You will note that it is rated PG. Don't be fooled by that innocent tag. It's dark, intense and devious. It is crammed with characters who lie, cheat and steal with style and relish. You could almost say they love their work. The movie is so rated because it's a rare example of substance over style.Read more ›
This is the first movie I watched that is newer, and that I love it more and more each time I see it.
You don't always know what can happen. Some things can sound good that are good, while others may sound good when bad, visa versa.
I think so many poeple want to see hollywood special effects, girls, and the other dirty stuff, that this film may appear boring.
Same with the original "Haunting" 1963. They said it was bad, because there were no special effects, and that the people seemed lifeless. Well, of course they will be lifeless. Would you be all cheery and happy if you were lonely, in a haunted house?
I think people like films that are entertaining, and not to actually study and think about.
Use your brains, and enjoy a good movie for once!
There is only one problem, but its not the movies fault. The music is GREAT, but no soundtrack :(
Most recent customer reviews
I had read some of the negative reviews on Amazon for this film & was weary, than again it gets nearly 90% on rotten tomatoes. Read morePublished 12 months ago by K. D.
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... Read morePublished on July 10 2004 by cookieman108
...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. Read morePublished on May 17 2004 by J. GARRATT
A very clever story with many intricate plot twists to keep you guessing. However, all of the twists are realistic and never gratuitous or done without purpose. Read morePublished on April 1 2004 by SandmanVI
With the exception of Campbell Scott`s convincing acting, this movie has little or nothing to offer. Read morePublished on March 27 2004 by gonn1000
I can see why this very well made film ranks at roughly a 3 out of 5 on Amazon. It's very stylishly done, no doubt, and it will keep you on the edge of your sofa all the way... Read morePublished on March 20 2004 by Nearly Nubile
This is another Mamet con movie, and I would rate it four stars for the con and the intricacies of its design. Read morePublished on Feb. 20 2004 by Hans Reinhardt
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... Read morePublished on Dec 16 2003 by Andy Orrock
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