The Tailor of Panama

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
The Tailor of Panama
The Tailor of Panama.jpg
Theatrical release poster
Directed by John Boorman
Produced by John Boorman
John le Carré
Kevan Barker
Screenplay by John Boorman
Andrew Davies
John le Carré
Based on The Tailor of Panama 
by John le Carré
Starring Pierce Brosnan
Geoffrey Rush
Jamie Lee Curtis
Brendan Gleeson
Daniel Radcliffe
Catherine McCormack
Harold Pinter
Music by Shaun Davey
Cinematography Philippe Rousselot
Edited by Ron Davis
Merlin Films
Distributed by Columbia Pictures
Release dates
  • 11 February 2001 (2001-02-11) (BIFF)
  • 30 March 2001 (2001-03-30) (US)
  • 20 April 2001 (2001-04-20) (IRL)
Running time 109 min.[1]
Country Ireland
United States
Language English
Budget $21 million[2]
Box office $28,008,462[2]

The Tailor of Panama is a 2001 Irish-American spy thriller film directed by John Boorman and starring Pierce Brosnan and Geoffrey Rush. Jamie Lee Curtis, Brendan Gleeson, Daniel Radcliffe, Catherine McCormack, and Harold Pinter appear in supporting roles.

The film is based on the 1996 spy novel of the same name by John le Carré, who wrote the screenplay with Boorman and Andrew Davies. It was shot at the Ardmore Studios in County Wicklow, Ireland, and on location in Panama City, Lake Gatun, and Gamboa, Panama. The film was produced by John Boorman's Irish production company Merlin Films, with financial support from Columbia Pictures.

The movie, like the book, is inspired in part by Our Man in Havana.


Andy Osnard is an MI6 spy reassigned to Panama after having an affair in Madrid with the foreign minister’s mistress. His superior warns him of the corruption present in Panama, but Osnard views that as an opportunity. Consulting a list of British citizens residing in Panama, he comes across Harry Pendel, who is the tailor to many of Panama's elite, including the President. Pendel, who has kept his criminal background hidden, is married to Louisa, who is the assistant to the administrator of the Panama Canal Authority. While Harry is a superb tailor he is a bad businessman; his tailor shop is constantly in debt.

Knowing that Pendel needs money, Osnard offers to help him, if Pendel feeds him information about the elite of Panama City. Pendel agrees. However, Osnard tells Pendel he needs better information to keep the arrangement going, and now he can also threaten to reveal that Pendel has been spying.

Pendel starts "tailoring" his stories, making them fit better, escalating the roles of friends to make them appear more significant than they are. His friend Mickie, a local drunk, he casts as a revolutionary who still holds sway over the youth of Panama. His shop manager he also casts as the leader of an opposition movement. After fixing the suit of the President of Panama (whose conversation consisted of his suit being too tight), he comes up with a tale that the president intends to sell the canal to China. When an incredulous Osnard asks which, Beijing or Taiwan, Pendel replies "both." Osnard knows that Pendel is making up these stories, but does not care if it is true, as long as it is believable to his superiors.

As he passes along this misinformation (bypassing the embassy staff, apart from Francesca, a staffer he has an affair with), it makes its way to Washington, where officials are alarmed and plan an invasion to prevent the canal from falling into Chinese hands. Pendel, meanwhile, seeks to end his spying, saying the opposition won't listen to him because it needs funds. Osnard asks how much, and Pendel names a figure he thinks is high enough to put off Osnard: $10,000,000. Osnard smiles, then relays a request to fund the opposition as a means to control Panama after this supposed revolution. He asks for fifteen million. At the Pentagon the request is made for twenty million, which then gets pushed back down to fifteen. Osnard's superior arrives with a briefcase containing the money, ready to meet with the opposition, while attack helicopters are preparing for an assault on the city.

The British Ambassador uncovers what Osnard has been up to, and threatens to reveal everything. Osnard offers to bribe him and they haggle over the price, settling on 1.25 million for his silence and cooperation. Osnard manages to ditch his superior and make off with the briefcase.

Louisa, who never approved of Osnard, finds out what Pendel has been doing. She races to the Administrator's office, who contacts the president of Panama, who is able to contact the US government and have the invasion called off shortly after it began. During this confusion, Osnard makes it to the airport, where he meets the Ambassador and hands him his bribe. The Ambassador allows Osnard to make it to an airplane.

Pendel returns home to Louisa, where he tries to explain everything.



The film currently holds a 77% approval on Rotten Tomatoes with an average rating of 6.8 out of 10 based on 112 reviews; the consensus states: "The Tailor of Panama is a smart, darkly satirical thriller with exuberant performances from Pierce Brosnan and Geoffrey Rush."[3] On Metacritic, it holds a score of 66 out of 100 indicating "generally favorable reviews".[4]


External links[edit]