They aren't necessarily the 'best' movies (although some are). They are simply the movies I love. They aren't necessarily in…
The Spanish Prisoner
It's the oldest con in the book.
An employee of a corporation with a lucrative secret process is tempted to betray it. But there's more to it than that.
A very nicely woven tapestry of storytelling intrigue and potential red herrings. It seems nothing is happening but the anticipation of something happening is palpable. Then it turns out something was actually happening all along - we just didn't see it.
Mamet giving us moments of predictability and then taking those away is exactly what makes the film unpredictable and delectable. Ricky Jay could use some more screen time as he gets all the good one-liners.
There is a couple moments of convenient plot contrivances and one instance of terrible, "hint hint" dialogue, but outside of that this is a very enjoyable thriller that will easily steal your attention away from whatever you're doing.
One of David Mamet’s most insinuating thrillers, The Spanish Prisoner is about an engineer, played by Campbell Scott, who develops a “process” that stands to make his company a great deal of money. Before he will disclose it, however, he wants to renegotiate the terms of his contract. As might be expected, his company prevaricates, and their prevarication gradually spirals out into a conspiracy designed to divest him of his rights as an employee as much as the process itself, resulting in one of those rare films in which a select group of actors feels more and more like an ensemble cast as the story progresses, as Scott comes to realise that everyone in his vicinity has been touched, in…
David Mamet creates another humdinger with "The Spanish Prisoner," a fun, twisty drama in which Campbell Scott gets screwed, royally, by a master con man. The eclectic cast, including a remarkably restrained Steve Martin, is a major highlight of the film, but it is Mamet's carefully woven script that hooks you in for the ride.
Whenever you embark on a David Mamet movie that involves the world of the con, you must remember that the real intrigue of it all is not the payoff, but the journey leading up to the payoff. I feel reluctant to even call it a "payoff", because Mamet is not worried about supplying us with a twist ending to knock our socks off. No, inside his universe it is about the trickery of the moment, and if you start thinking about that so-called "payoff", you're left in the dust and missing the point.
It's always interesting to see how actors debuting in a Mamet film handle the flow of the genius's material, and in the case of The Spanish Prisoner,…
"Beware of all enterprises requiring new clothes." - Words of Wisdom from David Mamet, or more specifically, David Henry Thoreau.
This twisty-turny triple-con starts off slow, and then slows way down. But the pleasure is in the walk down the rabbit hole with Campbell Scott, and honest working math genius who has his miracle macguffin...er...process threatened to be stolen by outside interests to his company; a company who is also, likely, trying to screw him over. It is a rude awakening for our Boyscout (literally) patsy John Ross (Scott) but a smartly written meditation on vanity and hubris, concentration-interuptus from a pretty woman and where good intentions (and too many assumptions) all too often lead.
The Ricky Jay supporting role is sublime, and he gets most of the great quotable lines (as he does in Heist and House of Games...other well oil'd David Mamet confidence-machines.
The Dissolve review (for a Mamet piece). Hugely enjoyable in the unfolding, but like Heist it's ultimately nothing more than the sum of its smoke and its mirrors. Well, not quite—"Then it'd be back to the range for me!" probably ranks among my ten favorite lines of all time, and #1 for a character's sole line.
An amiable Hitchcock homage that gets a lot of stuff right, blending devices like the vaguely defined macguffin and innocent man at the centre of intrigue with Mamet's trademark dialogue, only to be let down by being poorly made. The direction is low on panache and atmosphere, the film has a cheap look and lack of style and the cast are generally very weak. No-one's outright bad, though Steve Martin seems somewhat forced and unnecessarily "look, I'm usually doing funny stuff but here I am being all serious" in such a pivotal role and Campbell Scott is just on the boring side of "everyman".
That rarest of things - a film that could do with a remake.
A typical Mamet caper film, with a fair amount of twists and turns and a mixed bag of performances. Steve Martin, in one of his rare turns as a bad guy, steals the film. Worth seeing on a night where you want something with a brain, but not a big brain.
Well I'm disappointed with this on a re-view - a film I remember so fondly seemed very flat this time around. The problem I think is that the carefully placed fragments of evidence placed throughout the first two-thirds of the film simply do not connect together until towards the very end, so the vast majority of screen-time the viewer is just bemused at what is going on, and simply has to take it on trust that all will be explained. It's simply also true that the twists and turns that Mamet so deftly specialised in are now a very common part of the cinema lexicon - the major twists in the film are just not as impressive now to the modern eye.
David Mamet's Mannerist, deliberately stiff light thriller (or is it an homage to light thrillers?) where there are seemingly no characters, only people-shaped cogs in a neat little contraption that manufactures plot twists. The presence of poker-faced stage magician Ricky Jay in the cast gives away Mamet's game—to perform a series of writing-directing tricks for the audience—early on, but this—combined with the movie's controlled airlessness—is itself just a part of Mamet's complicated directorial ruse, which fascinatingly mirrors the one in the film. Campbell Scott plays a man being conned into believing he's being conned; he serves as the straightman to a cast—which includes Steve Martin, Ben Gazzara, Rebecca Pidgeon, Ed O'Neil, and Felicity Huffman—which delivers every line of dialogue with the flavor of impeccable stage patter. Altogether peculiar, perverse entertainment.
This review reportedly contains spoilers. I can handle the truth.
David Mamet loves a con. David Mamet loves a heist. David Mamet loves characters to be screwed over, cheated, tricked and hornswoggled from every conceivable angle. He also loves to write some of the snappiest dialogue you’re ever likely to hear. So when you combine all those cons, heists and cheats with whip smart characters who can fire his dialogue back and forth believably, you’re in for something pretty great. Which is what you get from The Spanish Prisoner.
On a work trip to the Bahamas, Joe (Campbell Scott) is accompanied by unassuming secretary, Susan (Rebecca Pidgeon) who seems to have a little crush on him. Joe meets Jimmy (Steve Martin), a rich playboy who thinks Joe would be a…
Nota = 5,5
Ah, I like con movies. You never know what twist is coming up, who is double crossing who. Nice film.
I found this film irksome. In the first act it is established that the protagonist, Joe Ross, has come up with a super secret process that will make a lot of money for the corporation he is working for. The potential windfall is huge so the stakes are high. It is made abundantly clear that everyone values wealth and its benefits to the exclusion of all other concerns and it motivates all their goals and actions. With global business beset by an adversarial culture, the secret process must be closely guarded at all times to ensure that they will be able to satisfy their drives.
Joe was also shown to be very greedy and vain. He doesnt have wealth but…
Easily one of the most underrated and under-appreciated films I have ever seen. Typically, I can figure out everything that is going to happen in a mystery/who done it film, within the first ten minutes. I know who did it, right away. The Spanish Prisoner is a rare exception, This film had me guessing until the very end, right before we are finally told who did it. Great suspense, as well as a superb script and dialogue by the great playwright, David Mamet. I highly recommend this film to anyone who appreciates an intelligent, well written and designed film, with good solid acting performances, and avoids using cliches, and generic movie formulas. This film respects its audience, and gives the audience credit for having a brain. And I appreciate that,
This film is definitely worth giving a chance. Do yourself a favor, go check it out, this week. Don't wait any longer.
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