The Spanish Prisoner 1997

The Spanish Prisoner

Critics Consensus

The Spanish Prisoner delivers just what fans of writer-director David Mamet expect: a smart, solidly constructed drama that keeps viewers guessing... and entertained along the way.

89%

TOMATOMETER

Total Count: 61

80%

Audience Score

User Ratings: 7,798

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Movie Info

Everything changes for rising corporate star Joe Ross (Campbell Scott) when he meets the wealthy and mysterious Jimmy Dell (Steve Martin) at a tropical resort. Dell offers to help Ross protect his new business process invention, but in short order Ross finds himself falsely accused of murder. Working with the FBI and his assistant, Susan Ricci (Rebecca Pidgeon), Ross sets out to prove his innocence and disentangle himself from the diabolical entrapment.

Cast & Crew

Campbell Scott
Joseph A. "Joe" Ross
Steve Martin
Julian "Jimmy" Dell
Ricky Jay
George Lang
Ed O'Neill
FBI team leader
Letty Aronson
Co-Executive Producer
J.E. Beaucaire
Executive Producer
Sarah Green
Co-Producer
Frank Adams
Original Song
Carter Burwell
Original Music
William M. Hough
Original Song
Joseph E. Howard
Original Song
Show all Cast & Crew

Critic Reviews for The Spanish Prisoner

All Critics (61) | Top Critics (15) | Fresh (54) | Rotten (7)

  • There are enough twists and grown-up intrigue to keep one asking, "Hey, what's going on here?"

    January 9, 2018 | Rating: 3/4 | Full Review…

    Mike Clark

    USA Today
    Top Critic
  • David Mamet has a penchant for sleight-of-hand thrillers, and The Spanish Prisoner is his craftiest to date.

    November 20, 2008

    Leonard Klady

    Variety
    Top Critic
  • The Spanish Prisoner shares with Glengarry Glen Ross a vision of life as a cosmic con game in which the victimizers feed the fantasies of the victims.

    April 27, 2007 | Full Review…

    Andrew Sarris

    Observer
    Top Critic
  • David Mamet's most consistently enjoyable film to date is a cool, typically clever con-trick drama packed with deliciously inventive twists that get ever more convoluted and unnerving as the plot proceeds.

    February 9, 2006 | Full Review…

    Derek Adams

    Time Out
    Top Critic
  • There's something fresh, even restorative, in watching an American studio movie that doesn't treat the movie-going audience like a bunch of gullible marks.

    April 12, 2002 | Rating: 3/4
  • Mamet brings more than a decade's worth of filmmaking experience to his latest project, and his skill as a director has improved considerably.

    February 14, 2001 | Full Review…

Audience Reviews for The Spanish Prisoner

  • Sep 27, 2011
    Clever and intriguing 'The Spanish Prisoner' is a mystery that exhibits Mamet's brand of dialogue and a penchant for keeping the viewer guessing. While Mr. Mamet is a competent director it isn't his strongest suit, which shows in Martin's strong performance opposite Rebecca Pidgeon's performance that is coming from a combination of an unknown tribe in a different universe and old drama school acting that is too over the top and distracting - she does have charm, though. A strong mystery with a stronger script that could've used a different director.
    Jonny B Super Reviewer
  • Aug 07, 2011
    david mamet thriller & easily one of the smartest one yet. I enjoy the twists he creates, you know they are coming but still its fun to watch
    Brendan N Super Reviewer
  • Jan 04, 2010
    The more I think about events in 'The Spanish Prisoner,' the less I like it so I'd better write this review while it's still at 2 stars. I simply don't buy these elaborate con schemes that involves everyone with a speaking role. 'Criminal' is another example. The fact that this swindle relies completely on a mathematician stumbling across the business card of someone he met briefly on vacation while thumbing through a friend's scrapbook redefines implausible. And that's just one of the many machinations required for this scheme to work! David Mamet's script is typically wry and stilted, but Mametspeak requires a certain delivery to pull off and as such David is not a very good director of his own material. Rebecca Pidgeon in particular comes off very badly as a line reader. Try 'American Buffalo' instead for a much better example of a Mamet con story onscreen.
    Doctor S Super Reviewer
  • Jan 31, 2009
    Exciting in parts, but completely filled with McGuffins. How does Joe not notice the book was switched? Why does he touch the murder weapon? Why does Susan pin that shamrock on him? It's all just to further the plot with canned suspense as it hurtles toward a <i>deus ex machina</i> ending.
    Alice S Super Reviewer

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