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Lawyer Ralph Anderson arrives in Tula, an amazingly remote town in the desert, as reluctant emissary of mob chief Victor Massonetti, who wants the airstrip clear for his unofficial exit from the country. Ralph's arrival has a profound effect on his estranged father, the sheriff; his brother Tip, an alcoholic deputy; and his ex-sweetheart Linda, now married to Tip. Tension builds as a small army of gangsters takes over the town. Then the situation abruptly changes... Written by
Rod Crawford <email@example.com>
The Trap (AKA: The Baited Trap) is directed by Norman Panama who also co-writes the screenplay with Richard Alan Simmons. It stars Richard Widmark, Lee J. Cobb, Tina Louise, Earl Holliman and Lorne Greene. Music is by Irvin Talbot and cinematography by Daniel L. Fapp.
Tula, California and Ralph Anderson (Widmark) has returned home under a cloud. He's been a lawyer for mob boss Victor Massonetti (Cobb) and needs to fulfil a favour to get Massonetti out of the country. Unfortunately the law in Tula comprises of his father and brother, the former still angry at Ralph for a youthful misdemeanour, the latter an alcoholic married to Ralph's childhood sweetheart. It's a recipe for disaster...
A Technicolor action/thriller that has somehow found its way into some film noir reference books, The Trap should just be viewed as belonging to the former genre titles. Which is fine, especially since it's grand entertainment. Essentially it's a play on the good narrative device of a good man who has done something he's not proud of, but is now desperately trying to make amends. Surrounding him is a fractured family dynamic, a romantic attachment that hurts his very being, and the small matter of some very bad dudes after the quarry in his charge
and thus also his blood!
The story throws up a number of surprises to further beef up the psychological broth, emotions are pulled all over the place, while death is a constant threat to keep things on the high heat. There's plenty of sweat and steam, boozing and brooding, neuroticism and nastiness, there's nary a dull moment in the whole play. All of which leads to a genuinely surprising and moving finale. The cast all turn in effective character portrayals, feeding off of one and other to make the picture achieve all it can. The sound stage aspects of the shoot are irksome, with the main painted backdrop particularly looking fake, which is a shame as the genuine exterior photography by Fapp is gorgeous.
Small irks aside, this is a meaty hybrid piece out of Paramount and highly recommended to fans of the stars and such genre fare. 8/10
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