A year after Sheila Green (Yvonne Romain) is killed in a hit-and-run, her multi-millionaire husband, Clinton (James Coburn), invites a group of friends to spend a week on his yacht playing a scavenger hunt-style mystery game. The game turns out to be all too real and all too deadly.
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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. 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
This movie's (and source play's) title evokes Dame Agatha Christie's play, "The Mousetrap", which like the "Deathtrap" play, was also a long-running play, in London's West End. "The Mousetrap" first opened there in 1952, and is still running, making it the known longest running play in history. See more »
When Sidney has the Deathtrap script and threatens to throw it into the fireplace, the fire isn't lit. See more »
[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 »
Okay,it recalls "Sleuth" (1972).Okay ,it borrows the first part from Clouzot's 'Les Diaboliques" .But forget "sleuth"and "Diaboliques" and you can enjoy this armchair thriller:after all,Sidney Lumet has always been fond of these stories which take place in an enclosed space,and from the very start of his career,"twelve angry man" ,but also "the hill" "murder on the orient express" and his towering achievement "dog day afternoon".And anyway it's based on a play by Ira Levin ("the Stepford wives" and of course the brilliant "Rosemary's baby") Besides,in his preface to Agatha Christie's plays ,Levin mentions Anthony Shaffer .And Michael Caine's presence makes us think of Mankiewicz's celebrated movie.
The main difference with "sleuth" lies in the fact that almost any social comment has disappeared:it's detective story for the sake of detective story.The actors overplay and their lines are a bit tongue-in-cheek (speaking of Reeve's character,Caine mumbles :"don't you think HE's one of them?)Actually,it's grand guignol,Punch and Judy all over the place and if you like the genre,you will not be disappointed. Reeve particularly proves he was much more than Superman.
The ending , on a stage ,is another nod to "sleuth" :the whole movie looks like a filmed stage production,but where's the problem?So did "twelve angry men".When Lumet comes back to "true" cinema,is he so convincing with the likes of "the firm"?
People who enjoy a murder mystery peppered with humor should see this.
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