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Deathtrap (1982)

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

Director:

Sidney Lumet

Writers:

Ira Levin (based on the stage play by), Jay Presson Allen (screenplay by)

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6 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Michael Caine ... Sidney Bruhl
Christopher Reeve ... Clifford Anderson
Dyan Cannon ... Myra Bruhl
Irene Worth ... Helga ten Dorp
Henry Jones ... Porter Milgrim
Joe Silver ... Seymour Starger
Tony DiBenedetto Tony DiBenedetto ... Burt, the Bartender
Al LeBreton Al LeBreton ... Handsome Actor
Francis B. Creamer Jr. Francis B. Creamer Jr. ... The Minister (as Rev. Francis B. Creamer Jr.)
Stewart Klein Stewart Klein ... Stewart Klein
Jeffrey Lyons ... Jeffrey Lyons
Joel Siegel ... Joel Siegel
Jenny Lumet ... Stage Newsboy
Jayne Heller Jayne Heller ... Stage Actress
George Peck George Peck ... Stage Actor
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Storyline

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

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

Taglines:

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


Certificate:

PG | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English

Release Date:

19 March 1982 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Ira Levin's Deathtrap See more »

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Box Office

Opening Weekend USA:

$2,238,977, 21 March 1982

Gross USA:

$19,282,134
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Warner Bros. See more »
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Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Mono

Color:

Color (Technicolor)

Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

The March 29, 1978 edition of show-business trade paper "Variety" reported that Warner Brothers purchased the movie rights to Ira Levin's stage play "Deathtrap" for over $1 million. At the time, this was apparently the most ever expensive purchase of the movie rights for a non-musical play. See more »

Goofs

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

Quotes

[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 »

Alternate Versions

There are two distinct versions between the theatrical release and the television version. The famous "kiss" between Sidney and Clifford after Myra's death in the theatrical and video release is absent in the television version. See more »

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User Reviews

 
Wickedly Witty, Super-Twisty
8 April 2005 | by gftbiloxiSee all my reviews

When DEATHTRAP was first released, the poster--reproduced on the cover of this DVD--offered a graphic akin to a Rubik's Cube. It is an appropriate image: originally written for the stage by Ira Levin, who authored such memorable works as ROSEMARY'S BABY and THE STEPFORD WIVES, the play was one of Broadway's most famous twisters, and under Sidney Lumet's direction it translates to the screen extremely well.

DEATHTRAP is one of those films that it is very difficult to discuss, for to do so in any detail gives away the very plot for which it is famous. But the opening premise is extremely clever: Sidney Bruhl (Michael Caine) is the famous author of mystery plays, but these days he seems to have lost his touch. After a particularly brutal opening night, an old student named Clifford Anderson (Christopher Reeve) sends him a script for a play he has written. It is called "Deathtrap," and Sidney recognizes it as a surefire hit. Just the sort of hit that would revive his career... indeed, a hit to die for. And when Clifford visits to discuss the play, events suddenly begin to twist in the most unexpected manner possible.

Like Anthony Shaffer's equally twisty SLEUTH, DEATHTRAP is really a story more at home on the stage than the screen--to reach full power it needs the immediacy that a live performance offers. Still, under the expert guidance of director Sidney Lumet, it makes a more-than-respectable showing on the screen. Much of this is due to the cast, which is remarkably fine. Michael Caine gives a truly brilliant performance, Dyan Cannon is funny and endearing as Sidney's relentlessly anxious wife, and Christopher Reeve gives what might be the single finest performance in his regrettably short acting career. If you can't see it in a first-rate theatrical production, this will more than do until one comes along.

Gary F. Taylor, aka GFT, Amazon Reviewer


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