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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 September 25, 1980 edition of show-business trade paper "Daily Variety" reported that Dustin Hoffman was in talks and negotiations to play one of the two leading male parts in this movie. 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 »
Ira Levin's Deathtrap is one of those mystery films in the tradition of Sleuth that would be very easy to spoil given any real examination of the plot of the film. Therefore I will be brief in saying it concerns a play, one man who is a famous mystery playwright, another man who is a promising writer, the playwright's wife who is much younger and sexier than the role should have been, and one German psychic along for the ride. Director Sidney Lumet, no stranger to film, is quite good for the most part in creating the tension the film needs to motor on. The dialog is quick, fresh, and witty. Michael Caine excels in roles like these. Christopher Reeve is serviceable and actually grows on you the more you see him act. Irene Worth stands out as the funny psychic. How about Dyan Cannon? Love how Lumet packaged her posterior in those real tight-fitting pants and had her wear possibly the snuggest tops around, but she is terribly miscast in this role - a role which should have been given to an older actress and one certainly less seductive. But why quibble with an obvious attempt to bribe its male viewers when nothing will change it now? Deathtrap is funny, sophisticated, witty, and classy. The mystery has some glaring flaws which do detract somewhat, and I was not wholly satisfied with the ending, but watching Caine and Reeve under Lumet's direction with Levin's elevated verbiage was enough to ensnare my interest and keep it captive the entire length of the film.
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