Try 30 days of free premium.

The Man Who Stood Still Recap

A taxi heading for Madrid comes to a tree across the road. The driver stops and his passengers - Santiago Gomez and his daughter Leocadia--get out. Santiago orders his daughter to accompany him and they go through the forest to a ruin left over from the war. He finds a burnt copy of Shakespeare on the ground, and Leocadia starts to read it. Santiago says that the burns show that the National Brigade fought there, but it was the Spanish Anarchs that won the battles. He tells Leocadia to give it to her husband Luis in return for his help acquiring the property, buying it under his name, and says that the quality of fishing will determine if he provides the money. Santiago tells Leocadia to take the taxi back to town and pick him up later.

Once his daughter leaves, Santiago opens a secret door in the ground and climbs down. Below is a chamber holding guns from 30 years ago. He loads one and shoots open a crate holding gold bullion.

The next winter, the driver brings McGill along the same route and explains that he drove Santiago there and dropped him off, and he turned the nearby ruins into a villa. McGill admits that he doesn’t know why Senior Luis Iglesias hired him. They arrive and Luis comes out. The servant, Paco, translates for McGill, but Luis refuses to respond at first. McGill takes out the invitation that Luis sent him, but Luis says that he doesn’t understand. As Paco explains that Luis doesn’t speak English, Santiago fires off a shot as he returns from hunting. He explains that he shot to tell the cook that he was home, and tells McGill that he invited him there. He then tosses his gun to Luis and tells him to clean it, and McGill demands answers from his host.

Inside the villa, Santiago says that he learned how to never sign his name, and tells McGill that he doesn’t have to know why he’s hiring him. When McGill balks, Santiago takes out one of the gold bars and says that it’s the first of six bars. McGill will get the other five after he completes the job. Figuring that it’s illegal, McGill refuses and Santiago says that Luis will write out another bank draft if McGill doesn’t want to take payment in gold. He explains that Luis married his daughter for the money and will do whatever he says. Santiago says that he will tell McGill everything in time as his employer, and informs McGill that he started working for him. His wife Aida comes in to announce lunch and Santiago says that they’ll be along shortly. When McGill says that he’ll eat in Madrid, Santiago informs him that he sent the taxi back to town and McGill reluctantly accepts the lunch invitation while he waits for his taxi.

As they leave the study, Leocadia walks by and Santiago points her out. He has Paco call a taxi for McGill, but once he’s alone, Paco calls Captain Teniente the local police and gives them McGill’s name.

McGill eats with the family and Santiago takes great pleasure in pointing out Leocadia and Luis’ manners. He notes that they have no children, and McGill notes a portrait of a young woman on the wall. He mistakes it for Leocadia, but Santiago explains that it’s of a muchyounger Aida. McGill compliments her in Spanish, and Santiago realizes that McGill speaks more Spanish that he let on. Santiago explains that 30 years ago, he didn’t see his wife in the ninth months prior to Leocadia’s birth. McGill points out that there was a war 30 years ago and many things happen in war, and Santiago says that his war was better than his peace.

Commandant Rafael Palma is lounging in bed when Teniente arrives and gives him files on McGill. He confirms that McGill is an American, and Rafael says that they’re going to the hotel to search McGill’s room and possibly arrest him. Once Teniente leaves, Rafael dons a toga and goes to the kitchen. He enters a hidden room and types out a letter to McGill on FAI stationary: the Anarchist Federation of Spain.

Later, Rafael and Teniente search McGill’s hotel room. Palmer then takes out the letter he typed and claims that he found it in McGill’s jacket pocket. He then gives a photo of McGill to a soldier.

Later, McGill returns to the hotel and goes inside. The officer puts McGill’s suitcase in the taxi, while McGill finds Rafael and Teniente waiting for him. Rafael knows that McGill was dismissed from American Intelligence, and asks why Santiago invited him. Teniente leaves and McGill says that he had lunch with Santiago, and he couldn’t find out what business he was being hired for. Rafael is interested in what form of payment was offered, and McGill tells him about the gold bricks. He insists that he wasn’t paid, but Rafael suggests that Santiago wanted McGill for political reasons. McGill says that they didn’t discuss politics, and Rafael shows him the fake letter. The Anarchists in exile never admitted that the war is over, and the letter shows that they sent McGill to Spain to conspire with known revolution Santiago. McGill starts to call the American embassy, but Rafael cuts him off and points out that the Americans have already dismissed him once. Well aware that the letter is a fake, McGill repudiates it and Rafael tells him he can atone by working for him. When McGill says that he’s leaving, Rafael informs him that he sent his suitcase to the villa. McGill prepares to call and Rafael warns that if he does then he will arrest him... and it will take him years to press charges. He wants McGill to find out what Santiago wants him to do and tell him, and advises him to tell Santiago that he’s working for him.

McGill returns to the villa and the driver says that Rafael told him to wait. Leocadia and Luis speak in English, and are having a snack before going to the opera in Madrid. McGill knew it all along, and they figure that he’s no friend of Santiago after he defended Aida. Luis advises McGill not to see his father-in-law again, warning that it will be an unsatisfactory transmission. Aida gets into the taxi to accompany her children, and Luis makes reference to his wife about how she was born out of marriage. Angry, Leocadia slaps him and joins her mother, and McGill watches as they drive away.

In the study, McGill finds Santiago mopping the floor. He says that he does his own cleaning in the room, and knows all about the meeting at the hotel. Santiago knows that Paco spies for the police, and McGill demands answers. The Spaniard confirms that Rafael was the one responsible and ordered McGill to tell him everything. Santiago finally explains that 30 years ago, he was an anarchist. He was in the wrong part of the country when the civil war broke out, and his superiors ordered him and one other to stay where he was and become fifth columnists against Franco’s government. Santiago betrayed everyone to rise in power, and eventually he was betrayed as well and put in prison. He knows that Rafael--his partner--betrayed him. Santiago wants McGill to determine if Rafael is still an anarchist, or a traitor to the cause. He intercepted a shipment of Franco’s gold and was going to send word to the anarchists, but was betrayed first. If Rafael was an anarchist then he’ll help Santiago deliver the gold to the anarchists in exile. If he’s a traitor then he’ll die. Santiago offers McGill a bank draft to arrange a meeting between him and Rafael... and points out that he has no choice unless he wants to go to prison. What happens after that is none of McGill’s concern.

That night, the driver takes McGill to a waiting Rafael. McGill tells him what Santiago wants, and asks if Rafael is still with Franco. Rafael admits that he can no longer remember being an anarchist, and McGill figures that he’s turned. He says that Santiago doesn’t want to kill Rafael, and still thinks that he’s his anarchist friend. McGill says that Rafael can trust Santiago, and says that Santiago wants his advice on what to do with the gold. Rafael would rather believe that Santiago wants to kill him, and tells Teniente to stand guard over McGill while he meets privately with Santiago. He takes Teniente’s gun and orders McGill to hand over his pistol as well. Once McGill does so, Rafael tells him to enjoy some cognac. Rafael leaves and Teniente offers McGill the cognac. The captain explains that the letter was on authentic paper and the typewriter used was standard issue during the war. They share a drink and then McGill knocks Teniente out and handcuffs him inside the car.

Rafael arrives t the villa and enters the study holding McGill’s gun. Santiago is surprised to see the gun, and throws his glass of alcohol at him. Rafael easily avoids it and fires a warning shot, then asks about the gold. Santiago claims that he lied about the gold to convince McGill to work for him, Rafael fires the remaining shots from McGill’s gun, and then tells Santiago to take it. Santiago refuses, and Rafael says that he saved his life by forging documents to get him sent to prison rather than face a firing squad. He insists that he had orders to betray Santiago, and now he must kill him.

McGill sneaks in behind Rafael and jumps him, and grabs his gun while Santiago goes for his desk. Rafael says that the gun is empty, and a disgusted McGill throws it away. He insists that Santiago wants to tell Rafael about the gold, and Santiago says that there is no gold for the man who came to kill him. McGill tosses the water from the mop bucket on the floor, and points out that it’s running down through the cracks in the tiles. He pries up the tiles, revealing the hidden lever, and pulls on it. The trapdoor opens, knocking Rafael off of his feet, and McGill grabs his gun. He then orders Santiago and Rafael down into the chamber. McGill stays in the study and calls down, explaining that he’s going to use Santiago’s old typewriter to forge a letter of safe conduct for himself and Rafael will sign. The second will be a confession that Rafael is an anarchist. If Rafael harms Santiago then he’ll send the confession to Franco. The third will be a letter confirming that Santiago stole Franco’s gold. If Santiago harms Rafael then McGill will send the letter to the government. Once he’s across the border, he’ll wire Teniente to free them both, and shuts the trapdoor.

Surprised, Rafael realizes that Santiago was telling the truth all along. They discuss whether to send the gold to the anarchists, and Rafael suggests that they take the gold for themselves. Chuckling, Santiago agrees. However, he discovers that Leocadia left a letter saying that she, Luis, and Aida took the gold and are leaving the country. Rafael finds the whole thing amusing.

McGill finishes the letters and passes them down to be signed. He doesn’t want to hear about the missing gold and closes the trapdoor once he has the signed letters.

Written by Gadfly on Sep 27, 2015

Try 30 days of free premium.