A Broadway playwright puts murder in his plan to take credit for a student's script.



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Cast overview, first billed only:
Irene Worth ...
Joe Silver ...
Tony DiBenedetto ...
Burt - the Bartender
Al LeBreton ...
Handsome Actor
Francis B. Creamer Jr. ...
The Minister (as Rev. Francis B. Creamer Jr.)
Stewart Klein ...
Jeffrey Lyons ...
Stage Newsboy
Jayne Heller ...
Stage Actress
George Peck ...
Stage Actor


To make Sidney's slump all the more painful, Clifford Anderson, a student of one of Sidney's writing seminars, has recently sent his mentor a copy of his first attempt at playwrighting for Sidney's review and advice. The play, "Deathtrap," is a five character, two act thriller so perfect in its construction that, as Sidney says, "A gifted director couldn't even hurt it." Using his penchant for plot, and out of his desperate desire to once again be the toast of Broadway, Sidney, along with Myra, cook up an almost unthinkable scheme: They'll lure the would-be playwright to the Bruhl home, kill him, and market the sure-fire script as Sidney's own. But shortly after Clifford arrives, it's clear that things are not what they seem! Indeed, even Helga Ten Dorp, a nosey psychic from next door, and Porter Milgram, Sidney's observant attorney, can only speculate where the line between truth and deception lies. Written by Craig C. Bailey

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis


Join us for an evening of lively fun...and deadly games. [UK Theatrical] See more »


PG | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:





Release Date:

19 March 1982 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Ira Levin's Deathtrap  »

Box Office


$17,385,291 (USA)

Company Credits

Production Co:

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:



Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
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Did You Know?


Film and stage director Robert Moore who directed the 'Deathtrap' stage-play on Broadway did not direct this film version which was directed by Sidney Lumet. Moore had for the movies directed the related genre piece Murder by Death (1976) written by Neil Simon but was actually still directing 'Deathtrap' as well as 'Woman of the Year' on Broadway when this movie was made and released. See more »


When Sidney has the Deathtrap script and threatens to throw it into the fireplace, the fire isn't lit. See more »


[first lines]
[the actor on stage delivers an unintelligible line]
First Audience Member: It's the worst play I've ever seen.
Second Audience Member: I can't believe Sidney Bruhl wrote it.
See more »

Crazy Credits

Murderous weapons by Eoin Sprott. See more »


Referenced in Z Channel: A Magnificent Obsession (2004) See more »

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User Reviews

How To Build A Better Deathtrap
6 September 1999 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

Unlike Tinseltown's version of HELLO, DOLLY!, Jay Presson Allen's screen adaptation of Ira Levin's hit Broadway thriller couldn't wait for it's stage incarnation to shutter before putting it up on the silver screen, so producers wisely decided to make the most of it's lengthy White Way run! The film's opening and closing scenes are shot inside New York's intimate Music Box Theater where DEATHTRAP played for nearly five years. Even the film's final fadeout on the theatre marquee is a version of the stageplay's famous logo. (Although marketeers decided to go with a more fun Rubik's Cube icon for the movie.)

Now on a low-priced DVD release, DEATHTRAP seems just as fresh and inventinve as ever. The cast is just right (better than their stage counterparts) and location scouts should be applauded for finding a suitably spooky house for our "one room, two act thriller" to take place in. Opened up in surprisingly simple and innovative ways, director Sidney Lumet wisely tags any "new" material onto the beginning and end of the film and leaves Levin's wickedly twisty center alone.

The film's last scene is a major Hollywood departure from the boards, and slightly undermines one of Levin's plot points from earlier in the film [Helga (about a dagger): "Will be used by another woman BECAUSE of play."]. Like Robert Altman's THE PLAYER, however, our new finale helps the film fold in on itself once again and blurs the lines between stage, screen, and (could it be?) real life!

11 of 15 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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