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Strip Search (2004) HD online

Strip Search (2004) HD online
Language: English
Category: Movie / Drama
Original Title: Strip Search
Director: Sidney Lumet
Writers: Tom Fontana
Released: 2004
Duration: 2h
Video type: Movie
In the aftermath of the September, 11th, in China, the American student Linda Sykes is interrogated by the military Liu Tsung-Yuan. In New York, the Arab student Sharif Bin Said is interrogated by the FBI agent Karen Moore. The psychological methods of interrogation are the same, amicable in the beginning and brutal in the end; but there is no evidence that the students are terrorists. Must security and safety of the State come at the price of freedom?
Cast overview, first billed only:
Austin Pendleton Austin Pendleton - James Perley
Tom Guiry Tom Guiry - Gerry Sykes
Fred Koheler Fred Koheler - Jimmy Briggs
Zack Manzella Zack Manzella - High School Boy
Daniel May Wong Daniel May Wong - Arresting Officer
Maggie Gyllenhaal Maggie Gyllenhaal - Linda Sykes
Ken Leung Ken Leung - Liu Tsung-Yuan
Jim Gaffigan Jim Gaffigan - Reverend Craig Peterson
Bruno Lastra Bruno Lastra - Sharif Bin Said
Glenn Close Glenn Close - Karen Moore
Dean Winters Dean Winters - Ned McGrath
Caroline Kava Caroline Kava - Alvira Sykes
Peter Jacobson Peter Jacobson - John Scanlon
Anahid Anahid - Aaisha Bin Said
Raymond Anthony Thomas Raymond Anthony Thomas - Clerk (as Ray Anthony Thomas)

This film was the subject of much controversy. The original cut was 120 minutes but it was cut down to 56 minutes. It aired only once on HBO and further scheduled airings were canceled.

Reviews: [25]

  • avatar


    I saw a piece of this film last week, yet it appears nowhere on HBO's website now, except a mention in HBO on demand. The part I saw was shocking, and thought provoking.

    I researched it on IMDB and that is where I found most of my information. I also saw reports from others here that HBO had canceled showings. I think I saw "Strip Search" mid-morning on May 1st. It seemed on at an odd time considering the subject matter and nudity. I was hoping to see it again in it's entirety.

    However, in light of recent news events, I feel it is an important film. CBS withheld it's coverage of Iraqi prisoner mistreatment, by their own admission, until the story broke through international news agencies.

    The little bit I saw convinced me that once again HBO had the courage to make a movie about a controversial subject, to do it with artistic integrity, without being afraid to "shock the monkey" and to hire a first rate cast of actors who are also willing to be risk takers.

    With writing by Tom Fontana, direction by Sidney Lumet, and a cast including Maggie Gyllenhaal, Ellen Barkin, Glenn Close, Patti Lupone, Josh Mostel, Estelle Parsons and Oliver Platt... this is not a venture that was undertaken lightly.

    I am shocked that it is nowhere to be seen.

    How are the artists involved in this project responding to what seems to be censorship at its worst?

    Why has this happened? I've come to expect more of HBO. I hope that this is not a sign that HBO is caving under the political powers that be.

    Let the audience decide. Not the voices of the few and first and loudest. Most of my friends never even heard about this movie. When I took them to the HBO website, they were as shocked as I am to find it mysteriously missing.

    Janice L. Gass
  • avatar


    Just saw this movie last night, and I was quite impressed. At my first opportunity, I did a Google search on it and found this page. Reading through the comments, I wonder how many of those who dismissed the movie and its premise as unadulterated propaganda (albeit prior to the Abu Ghraib scandal coverage) might reconsider given recent revelations of American behavior in violation of the Geneva Convention. Several such comments reflect a belief that the nudity in the film was there purely for titillation. However, in the aftermath of the prison misconduct in Iraq, its pretty clear that this stuff happens. The nudity in the movie hasn't a damned thing to do with desire. Rather the nudity illustrates the degree to which the state can and does dehumanize and terrorize (allusion intended) the individual, confident in its rationale that circumstances warrant such measures. Let me tell you, I find Maggie Gyllenhall crazy, raving hot, but all I felt while watching this movie was revulsion and a keen awareness of my own vulnerability were I in the maw of The State/System.

    "48 hours, 7 days, 6 months... as long as it takes...". Chilling, chilling stuff, definitely check it out.
  • avatar


    This movie was quite a profound piece of work. It involved a very unique process of film making in which the same screenplay was used to tell two different stories. This process is supposed to invoke in the viewer that the viewer shows sympathy for one character but not for another. When I watched it I consciously knew that it was the same words being spoken but then yet I did not understand why I felt sympathy for one character but not for the other speaking the same words. This is a very good movie to watch in the post 9/11 world in which the way America treats the rest of the world. Quite frankly I believe Americans(I being one of them) do not treat the rest of the world with enough respect and we disregard any of their thoughts. This movie shows the American viewer how a foreigner might see America. This movie totally blew me away. It is dumbfounding.
  • avatar


    Shocking! Every American needs to see this movie. A previous comment titled "Duh", at first glance, makes us all seem as though we are somehow keenly aware that civil rights are being America. But until I saw this movie, I couldn't parallel being arrested, tortured, and denied access to any outside help in China, to the same thing happening here. Somehow, the idea of these things taking place here didn't seem so terribly awful, and fearful, until I put myself in both of the actors roles as victim.

    Strip Search is one of the best, thought provoking movies I have ever seen. The acting was absolutely superb; making it easy to be drawn into every scene, and Maggie Gyllenhaal's performance was no less than stellar to that end. For short, I was IMPRESSED!
  • avatar


    In the aftermath of the September, 11th, in China, the American student Linda Sykes (Maggie Gyllenhaal) is interrogated by the military Liu Tsung- Yuan (Ken Leung). In New York, the Arab student Sharif Bin Said (Bruno Lastra) is interrogated by the FBI agent Karen Moore (Glenn Close). The psychological methods of interrogation are the same, amicable in the beginning and brutal in the end; but there is no evidence that the students are terrorists. Must security and safety of the State come at the price of freedom?

    "Strip Search" is a film directed by Sidney Lumet with the same dialogs and situations in two totally different countries, with two students that might be connected to terrorist networks being interrogated at the same time. The movie shows that torture does not depend of the country and the importance of civil liberties to the individuals. I lived a great part of my life in a dictatorship and I know the importance of freedom and democracy. My vote is six.

    Title (Brazil): "Inspeção Geral" ("General Inspection")
  • avatar


    This was quite possibly the BEST hour of television that I have ever seen. I give major kudos to HBO for not backing down on a sensitive topic and producing a fantastic show. I admit that some of the nudity was gratuitous, but I know that using it was trying to make the situations as realistic as possible. I'm a law school student, and I was horrified that people, in our country or in others, do not protest that they have some basic human and civil rights in interrogation settings. I don't usually watch HBO because I don't like the programming, but I am glad I tuned in to watch. Again, this was a great show that everyone should watch. Make more shows like this! Don't be afraid to touch on sensitive topics.
  • avatar


    In the post 9/11 world, fear has been indoctrinated into most aspects of our lives. Governments worldwide manipulated and capitalized on this for their own gain - financially, politically and strategically. The Bush-driven Patriot Act has seen many people (guilty and otherwise no doubt) detained, tortured and dehumanized. Since a large percentage of the population are unaware that political agendas of media owners exist, they passively believe what they see on their nightly TV news or read in their daily newspapers. They are taught to fear the unknown, to trust their leaders implicitly (because they use nice words in speeches like 'freedom' and 'family') and not to question motives.

    'Strip Search' is a deliberate attempt to throw the light of reality into this collective 'un'consciousness.

    The storyline involves parallel stories of two people being detained in custody: an American woman in China, and a Middle Eastern man in the US. By using almost exactly the same dialogue, we are shown how to think outside the usual spectrum, and to feel compassion for both people. Without the twin story of the American woman, people would undoubtedly walk away from this feel feeling a lot differently.

    The acting is astonishing. One feels that this film meant more than just another job to the actors involved. I admire them immensely for their efforts.

    Hopefully this film will change a few minds, and that as a result - the world might become just that little bit better.
  • avatar


    When Adolf Hitler solidified his hold on Germany he asked Germans to give up little things so that he could make them stronger. He slowly took more and more freedoms away until there was no freedom at all. As Americans we believe that this could not happen here, we are too democratic. However, many totalitarian governments start slow. In this play, two suspects are being put through a degrading interrogation. One is an American woman being interrogated by a Chinese officer. The other is an Arab being interrogated by an American agent. As the interrogation takes place, the two interrogators become interchangable, saying the same lines. It is a not so subtle way of saying we in the US have become what we had always spoken against. Of course, we can use the argument that we are doing it to protect our way of life. But can't the Chinese use that same excuse? I thought the film was rather blunt, but the message effective. If we are truly the most humane and democratic country in the world, if due process is still alive, then we must show it, not just say it.
  • avatar


    The format, writing and direction of this docudrama could be improved, but the premise is too important to ignore. Two people, in opposite parts of the world, seem cavalier about their rights and freedoms, until they are violated, then dumbfounded about what authorities do to them. We'd all like to feel safe in our home, community and Country. However, to what extent would we give up our rights and freedoms, to be more secure and safe? And... If our rights and freedoms are lost, how safe and secure would we be? You may find this film boring. It lacks gratuitous violence, obscenity and other things, one might proclaim, makes for entertainment, but the valuable message it portrays, makes it a, "Must See!". If this show peeks your interest, try a, "Star Trek", (The Next Generation), Episode called, "Drumhead", in which mankind has ventured hundreds of years, into the future, into space and evolution, yet still succumbs to fear, created by the potential for terrorism...
  • avatar


    I found STRIP SEARCH a thought-provoking and well done piece by some very talented and courageous artists. An example of how TV/Film can be used as a tool to get us to think and look at our world, our times and ourselves. --- BRAVO! and thank you to all involved in this project.

    The cast, the direction, the script, the crossover dialogue between the two interrogation all worked for me. And the choice of using nudity? How could they have done it otherwise? It really hit home the humiliation and terror of such practices. A somewhat prophetic piece in light of recent events and the exposure of America's tactics in Iraq.

    I highly recommend that people not only see it, but talk about it. Simply put ... excellent.

    One question -- Has Lumet EVER made a bad film? I certainly can't think of one. If he has, I haven't seen it.
  • avatar


    When I started watching this movie, I became so caught up in it and the dialog that I forgot that its title was 'strip search'. Then the second part of the movie focuses on it.

    The actors playing the victims do a brilliant job here and create great sympathy for themselves from the audience. Furthermore they act pragmatically. They ask for their rights to be read, to have counsel with a lawyer, etc. For example, at one point in the film they have a strip search done on them by a person of the opposite sex. They point out that's not how it's supposed to work and the interrogators just say that there are exceptions.

    I know there is no particular torture here but it is absolutely terrifying to know that what happened to these characters, an absolutely humiliating and petrifying thing, can happen to any one of us at any time regardless of where we live. This film makes us think about exactly how much power governments have, about what's worse- terrorism or the way the govt. fears it so much that it harasses innocent people on an mere suspicions, about whether we really do have freedom of speech.

    The actors, director and scriptwriter have done a brilliant job here. The realism and nudity gives it a raw feeling. The repeated dialog is an interesting aspect that adds an extra dimension to the parallelism but does not bore the audience. At first I thought the interrogators lines were the same because they both work of the same script within the movie's universe itself but I went on to realize that it metaphorically hints at how similar interrogation methods are worldwide.

    This was a movie worth watching, it's not fun and it might get you riled up but that's point. It shows an issue that needs attention. In fact it was so good it made me write this review, my first ever review, just so I could tell someone how thought provoking it was. Mature teenagers should not be stopped from watching this just because it contains nudity. The youth are our future. If they don't fight against these injustices who will?
  • avatar


    The movie is really a very very well made one with the parallels between two plots. It brings out the question-"is subjecting a foreigner to inhuman torture and trauma and humiliation right in one country and wrong in another country?" For protecting one's country and people against terrorism, if the police can do anything to the foriegners, then any other country has the same rights.

    I saw the movie on HBO and it was quite an eye opener on what can happen to a foriegner in some other country. The movie might have been an exaggeration, but then similar things have been reported in past.

    The best parts of the movie were the 3-4 clips in between of various us presidents talking about freedom and democracy provided by their nation to their own citizens and also to the world.
  • avatar


    And since when does a movie have to be factual, realistic or based on truth to be noteworthy? I don't care about the implications of this movie so much as the intriguingness of the way in which it is presented to the viewer. It in some way says "we all fear for our own security/safety". Maybe its a little over the top, blunt and not politically correct, but movies are meant to provoke us, to entertain us.. not to feed us facts - unless of course, we are watching a documentary :)

    The first thing I thought after seeing this movie was "wow, that would make an awesome screen play for theater". I wasn't really committed to or concerned with factual events, presentation of ideas (political, social or otherwise), or what I would take away from it. I did, however enjoy the intent of the director to provoke the viewer to think for themselves a little. There was not enough information presented to draw factual conclusions regarding the character of either "victim". In fact, I am not certain the word victim is appropriate. Were they? Or are we? I liked that it left me with that thought. I think everyone has an opinion regarding the events of 9/11 and I think this movie draws those opinions out in the viewer and re-validates them a bit. Good or bad.

    Very original presentation of a not so original plot.
  • avatar


    I just watched this film (on European television), but didn't see from the very beginning what it was called. So I looked it up here on IMDb. "Strip Search" is a terrible title. What were they thinking? That I think is an example of what is wrong with the film. They have a story with a very interesting political premise, but they gave it some crap title more appropriate for a straight-to-video Shannon Tweed flick.

    Well, it IS an interesting premise, that the U.S. domestic response to 9/11 has brought the country closer in some respects to the police states it still publicly condemns. It is a premise with which I strongly agree. And the plot vehicle of playing the same dialogue in a U.S. and a Chinese prison was a very good idea. But it is all really poorly done.

    The biggest problem is the dialogue itself, which is clichéd. It really could have used a few rewrites. Surprising that it came from Tom Fontana, of the great "Homicide: Life On the Streets" TV series.

    The other problem is that except for Glenn Close and Maggie Gyllenhaal, the other actors are unable to rise above the hack dialogue. Ken Leung I thought was particularly bad. And in movies, the ultimate blame for poor performances has to be laid at the feet of the director, in this case the legendary Sidney Lumet. (But let's face it, Lumet hasn't made a truly great film since 1976's "Network" (1976), and not even a good film since 1988's "Running On Empty.") With the exception of the acting of Close and Gyllenhaal, the whole film feels like a hack job. The political message is hammered home with all the subtlety of a German jazz band, complete with inter-cut speeches about freedom and democracy from U.S. presidents, and a fadeout with statistics about U.S. detainees. Sheesh.

    Too bad, this could have been a thought-provoking film. It's so poorly done and overwrought that it just won't change anyone's mind.
  • avatar


    The short film itself was an interesting concept. Unlike normal films that are meant to tell a story this was a well constructed film to ask very basic fundamental question. Security or Liberty. It's Nothing new, "The man who trades freedom for security does not deserve nor will he ever receive either." - Benjamin Franklin

    This isn't some crackpot theory that conspiracy theorist are trying to pull on anyone. These are the same rights that Americans fought and died for this is there Consitution, laws that over the years citizens have taken for granted. This film might not be realistic but the idea behind the way it trys to show the viewer exactly what one can loose by giving up ones rights for freedom. If you were arrested today for any crime you could use the rigths that were given to you as citizen of your country with the exception of terrorists. Terrorists? what are they? you might come up with an image of a Muslim man as viewed in the film. But this is mistaken perception "the patriot act" doesn't say inclusive to only Muslims it says Anyone who is against the government plan.

    If you don't believe me then just goggle "The Patriot Act" actually read it, they don't hide anything truly Orwell would be rolling in his grave at this bill. Also if you can get a hold of a German History Text book, and read the laws in acted during pre-WW2 Nazi Germany Era, they created there own Patriot Act, and finally introduced the gestapo. Secret Police to arrest anyone who was Ploting against there own government.

    We are all in a world of trouble and the players involved at the highest levels are never what they seem. I suggest for anyone who is interested in learning somewhat of the real truth visit they won't show any of this in the media.
  • avatar


    If you're not sure what the words "purient" and "gratuitous" mean, there's no need to look them up. Just watch this embarrassing film.

    True, there is a vague hint of an important theme here, but it is clumsily handled, with very little depth. The conclusion is wrapped up with displayed text, which is the equivalent of a voice-over. No effort whatsoever. Heck, you know what you're getting into just from the title.

    This is a made-for-HBO movie, after all. All that mattered to them was showing a woman forced to undress, and this shows in the painfully simple screenplay.

    On a more positive note, it is interesting to see parallel scenes with the woman, whom we are obviously meant to empathize with, and the muslim-looking guy.

    Theoretically, one would feel bad for the woman, and then realize how wrong it is to treat the man the same way.

    -But even this is clumsily handled, to put it mildly.

    It's just gratuitous sex and humiliation, HBO-style. I'm glad I didn't see it with others present, as I would have been quite embarrassed.
  • avatar


    Say what you want, this film makes you think...

    if people are truly not hypocrites and believe in the fundamental moral value that you should view and treat others as we would want them to view and treat us… then this film will make you think… it is this fundamental human value that really separates us from other animals… well, some of us… this film makes us see our biases towards others and makes us wonder about our outlook on the world… I film was well done and would recommend it to anyone who has a open mind and is not too single minded…
  • avatar


    This movie is pure propaganda. The film makers pull out all the stops to elicit a carefully directed emotional response from the audience, but IMHO it fails because their efforts are so blatantly obvious. I find an interesting parallel between the interrogators portrayed in this movie and the movie itself - both end up doing the same thing. The interrogators relentlessly drive their captives in order to get what they want out of them, and the movie does the same thing it's viewers.

    Now, instead of contrasting the interrogation of an Arab and an American, if the film makers would have woven together the stories of an innocent person being questioned and a terrorist making his way through multiple levels of bureaucracy - that would have been interesting. But then, that may have resulted in some of the viewers coming to different conclusions than the film makers, something that they're obviously uncomfortable with.
  • avatar


    Absolutely stunning performance by Maggie gyllenhaal. To be on scren naked for so long must have taken hours to shoot I assume they would be shot on closed set unles she is absolutely comfortable in her own body.

    The facial expression as she was having both cavities searched were amazing and there must have been a degree of reality in the performance Fantastic performance in a mediocre film with a powerful message.

    I understand that the Film is available in Europe on DVD with Directors cuts and commentary by Diresct and by Miss Gyllenhaal.

    Obviously it was very difficult to duplicate all scene relating to both students but I thought that her ordeal was exaggerated in relation to the male studen
  • avatar


    "Strip Search" attempts to show that the freedoms we take for granted can be taken away in the name of national security, and our government can turn into a police state the way N. Korea and China are.

    It uses two identical incidents with the same dialogue to drive this point home. But there are problems with the premise. First, what if the roles were reversed? I believe it is natural for us to have more compassion for a woman under interrogation, than a man. What if it were an American man being questioned in a Chinese prison, and a Muslim woman being questioned in America? Or better yet, make both of the suspects men so that the stories are indeed parallel. I believe the impact would not be as strong, which highlights how weak the story really is.

    Another minor beef is, for me the Chinese interrogator acts too Western in his manner and delivery.

    Good acting all around, especially from Maggie Gyllenhall.

    5 out of 10
  • avatar


    Hi, Strip search was a good movie. It was right on point about how your civil rights can be abused by a overzealous government. But I want to point out another aspect of strip searches. I was sentenced to 15 years to life in a maximum security prison for a drug crime. The most inhumane treatment was that of strip searches. I painted a series on this subject which can be viewed at

    summary of material -

    This body of work below was produced in 1995 in response to the dehumanizing

    nature of body cavity searches.

    INTENT OF THE ARTIST: To give the general public a view of the dehumanizing nature of the prison experience Coming back from a visit with his mother a sadistic guard ordered Papa to bend over and spread his ass cheeks on 3 occasions to look for contraband in his anal canal. No contraband was found after the first visual search. But the guard insisted that Papa continue to bend over. Papa asked the guard what he was looking for. After the third search Papa refused to cooperate asking the guard to call the supervising officer. The guard told him to get dressed and return to his cell.

    Papa then went to the law library to write a complaint and researched the issue. Papa discovered 20 pages of directives issued by the Department of Corrections on how guards should search the body cavities of prisoners. Papa was disgusted and decided to paint about this dehumanizing experience. He created automatic paintings and glued parts of the directives to them.

    The six pieces of work were then confiscated by the administration when Papa tried to send them to the free world...

    Best, Anthony Papa author of 15 To Life: How I Painted My Way To Freedom / Feralhouse
  • avatar


    At the outset, "Strip Search" ask the question: "If the United States could rid the world of terrorism forever, would you give up your rights as American citizens...for a day, a week, etc.?" (A better question would be, who wouldn't?) Americans are currently giving up their lives to accomplish a small piece of that objective, always have, and always will as do and have all peoples of the world throughout history. This pathetically patronizing and obviously didactic film then shows interleaved scenes of a male Chinese official doing a humiliating strip search of an American female and an American female doing the same to a male Arab in a failed attempt to illustrate the importance of personal freedom, being groped. Unfortunately, the notion of being groped by Glenn Close just doesn't seem all that bad which didn't help drive home the central issue of liberty. On the other hand, the interrogation of Maggie Gyllenhaal was too polite for serious drama and seeing Maggie naked was more distracting than engrossing. "Strip Search" flies in the face of a panoply of films about people being stripped of their freedom, imprisoned, tortured, etc. making for a mediocre one hour watch which plays out like a simple minded High School civics lesson. (C)
  • avatar


    This piece of garbage is terrible, I mean horrible. This is one of the worst pieces of trash ever. I cant believe such good actors felt they needed to be in this, the paycheck couldnt be worth it, its a made for tv movie for gods sake.

    Its about some interrogations of 2 students. The writing here is painfull to listen to.

    There is no reason for this to exist. It tries to make a point and fails misserably. It crashes and burns like only so few can. I just finished watching it and frankly I'm kinda ticked off at the hour of my life I lost.

    If Strip Search happens to be on when your flipping the channels. Search for something better.
  • avatar


    This film begins in a classroom with a professor asking his students if it was acceptable to give up your rights for 1 day if the government could guarantee that it could get rid of terrorism. He then proceeds to ask the same question, but extending the time period from 1 day to 10 years.

    The director then examines two identical situations differing only in their location. The first scenario is of an American woman being hooded, and then abducted by Chinese security forces and then taken to an unknown location where she is asked some uncomfortable questions. The second scenario is of the same thing happening to an Arab man (they never really say which country he's from) being hooded and abducted and taken to an FBI building where he's questioned.

    This film is effective in asking the viewer whether the US wishes to fight any war in a manner similar to how Communist China (with no supposed civil freedoms) fights a War on Terror. Additionally, the viewer is asked whether civil liberties which have taken many decades of struggle to obtain and keep are so worthless that they can be discarded for any period of time. One of the most ironic parts of the movie is that the quote by Thomash Jefferson "The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots and tyrants." is used by the Arab suspect in his political science thesis and then the FBI agent questioning him asks whether the use of this statement is a call to violent dissent.

    The problem with this film is that both scenarios use precisely the same dialog and this while initially effective gets pretty boring at the end. Also in pre-Abu Ghraib world people could be happy at the realism of the level of abuse that both parties experience, but we now know that a lot worse can and does happen.

    I can understand why this film isn't shown more in the US, no-one wants our country compared to Communist China, and certainly not at this time. Whether this is a valid point for not showing the film is debatable.
  • avatar


    One can't comment on this work without addressing the political message. The creators attempt to draw a parallel, to understate matters, between the physical and psychological torture a particular tourist receives in China during a criminal interrogation (itself the focus of more than a couple films) with what they've concluded the treatment of terrorist suspects might be in post-9/11 America. Both situations are presented in the most degrading light in the hope, it would seem, that viewers would be more apt to accept the events in China as something other than an isolated outrage and then project that outrage generally upon the secretive current events in America.

    In my opinion, by lining up these unfortunate predicaments so exactly without addressing the ways the situations must be different weakens the impact and is far more manipulative than thought-provoking. The whole thing reeks of an agenda (certainly their right) rather than being an expose on the apparent lack of due process afforded many individuals in the wake of the United States grappling with the terrorist threat.

    I will say though that if the viewer isn't soured by the lack of subtlety and context, the performances are quite good.