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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
The June 5, 1981 edition of show-business trade paper "Daily Variety" reported that this movie was being edited in post-production with the movie having been completed for about $500,000 under budget. 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 »
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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