[[quoteright:300:http://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/spanish_prisoner__the_1997_7604.jpg]]

''' ''The Spanish Prisoner'' ''' is a suspense/crime/mystery film written and directed by Creator/DavidMamet. It revolves around Joe Ross, a researcher for an unnamed major company who's recently perfected an unspecified process which is worth a great deal of money. While on a business trip in the Caribbean, he meets and befriends a wealthy traveler who offers to advise him and help him get a fair share of the profits. Shortly, however, he begins to question his new friend's motives and intentions. As in most Mamet stories, deceptions and cons pile up as both the protagonist and the audience try to figure out who's telling the truth, and who's part of a plot.

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!!This film provides examples of the following tropes:
* BetterManhandleTheMurderWeapon. Joe attaches himself to the murder of his lawyer friend by touching the knife in the chest.
* TheCameo: The fed who explains the SpanishPrisoner con is played by Ed O'Neill, post-''Series/MarriedWithChildren'', pre-''Series/ModernFamily''.
* ChekhovsArmoury: Several objects turn into plot-driving devices later on.
** The business card of the CIA agent. Invoked to trap Joe deeper in the scheme.
** The video tape from the island. Joe remembers it when seeing the surveillance monitor at Susan's place.
** The tennis book (with Jimmy's finger prints on it) eventually brings the charade down.
* ChekhovsGunman: [[spoiler:In multiple scenes throughout the movie, there are Japanese tourists in the background taking pictures. Everyone ignores them; in the end they turn out to be Federal Marshals who were following the whole plot.]]
* [[Main/IncurableCoughOfDeath Chekhov's Cough]]: Joe's best friend, a lawyer, gets a cold that follows him throughout the movie. Subverted when [[spoiler: he is found stabbed to death in the second act]]
* TheCon: Joe spends the whole film trying to figure out what con he's been a victim of. The titular "Spanish Prisoner" con is but one of many.
* DeusExMachina: When everything seems lost for the hero, the [[TheCavalry police appear]] out of nowhere and saves the day.
* DidntSeeThatComing: Almost everything that happened was planned out, but the plotters didn't predict that [[spoiler:Joe would just happen to hang on to a book that one of them left fingerprints on.]]
* TheEndingChangesEverything: [[spoiler:By the end of the film, it's clear that almost literally no one but the protagonist has been telling the truth about anything. The whole thing has been a con within a con within a con.]]
* FailedASpotCheck: Dell duped Joe on several occasions without latter noticing anything wrong.
* {{Foreshadowing}}: Early on, Joe sees a boat moving from a seaplane towards the shore. Susan points out that he never actually saw the boat leave the plane, it could have been coming from anywhere, "and we have no idea who anyone is."
** We never get a good look at pictures of Jimmy's sister, most noticeably when a lamp is reflected over her face. It turns out she doesn't exist.
* IdiotBall: Joe. He never browses the Red Book. Later he's got a ticket to Venezuela, and never once bothers to look at it. He has a cloth bag that is supposed to contain a camera; instead it has a handgun. He does not notice the difference. His lawyer friend is murdered and he immediately pats down the blood stain, leaves his glasses behind and [[BetterManhandleTheMurderWeapon touches the murder weapon]].
* ItWasHereISwear: [[spoiler: Joe leads authorities to Jimmy's "office", which is empty. Then he takes them to the private club Jimmy signed him up for, which turns out to be a family restaurant.]]
* GambitPileup
* KansasCityShuffle: Just when Joe thinks he knows he is being conned and what to do about it, the rug is yanked out from under his feet and he is blindsided by a completely different con.
* LastRequest: Dell grants one to Joe on the ferry. Joe requests to [[HiddenWire learn more about the process]].
* MassiveMultiplayerScam
* MyCard: Felicity Huffman's character leaves behind a business card that turns out to be an important part of the larger [[MassiveMultiplayerScam plan]].
* McGuffin: The "process", about which we are told absolutely nothing except that it's worth a lot of money.
* MetaTwist: Mamet must have known that the audience would be expecting a con game to turn up in this film. We hit that twist and the con is uncovered and explained before the movie is half over. Then we realize that we haven't uncovered anything yet.
* MistakenNationality: [[spoiler:The "Japanese" tourists]].
* OutGambitted: The plotters had a brilliantly detailed and multi-layered plan to get ahold of the process and leave Joe to take the fall. In the end [[spoiler: the Feds were watching them the entire time and were just letting them proceed to gather evidence.]]
* PlotBasedVoiceCancellation: This is used to prevent the audience from ever learning [[spoiler:where [[MacGuffin the process]] was hidden]]. Oddly enough, though, the line shows up clearly in the subtitles.
* PoliceAreUseless:
** In fairness to the police, things were deliberately set up so that Joe would look guilty and half of his story fell apart on inspection. Naturally they don't believe his pleas of innocence.
** [[spoiler: Then subverted when we find out that Federal Marshals were following the case from the beginning.]]
* ReadTheFinePrint: Joe is tricked into signing a club membership form which turns out to be a request for political asylum from the Republic of Venezuela.
* RefugeInAudacity: Susan manages to get their car around the road block by making a scene in front of the cop.
* SpanishPrisoner: The film includes a detailed explanation of this con, the purpose of which exposition is to disguise the fact that it is not the con being performed.
* StunGuns
* TitleDrop: During the SpanishPrisoner exposition scene, delivered by Ed O'Neill's character.
* UndercoverCopReveal: [[spoiler: Stuck on a boat with a man about to shoot him, Joe appeals to the other people around - the ubiquitous Japanese tourists. They immediately subdue the villains and reveal they were actually U.S. Marshals.]]
* UndisclosedFunds: The stake at the beginning is not shown to the audience, but is presumably an impressive sum.
* UnrevealAngle: Dell's sister is TheGhost. When he shows Joe a photo of her, glare on the glass over the photo prevents the audience from seeing anything.
* UnwittingPawn: Joe is this in Dell's scheme.
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