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, but not on Broadway, but 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 »
The comparison to Sleuth, the earlier stage-play-turned-film, is obvious and upon my first viewing I too thought Sleuth was better, but Deathtrap has, at least for me, many more repeat viewings in it than Sleuth.
I purchased Deathrap in the bargain bin at Wal-Mart, figuring that it had Caine and the underrated Reeve and was worth the 6 bucks. It was one of the finest DVD purchases I could've picked up.
It's one of those best-kept-secrets that movie buffs always are always delighted to discover. And it's totally worth repeat viewings.
Though Laurence Olivier and Michael Caine turned in bravado performances in Sleuth, I was doubly impressed with Christopher Reeve as Clifford Anderson. Reeve, rightfully associated with his now legendary portrayal of Superman, stole the show in what should've been an Oscar worthy performance. I've always felt Reeve was a type-cast actor who didn't get much of a chance to shine outside of the Superman films and a few other flawed but entertaining films like Somewhere in Time, but this film shows that his potential was truly tapped and put to use, thank goodness.
I absolutely relished Michael Caine's performance. He was glib, deliciously manipulative and sadistic. And watching him work with Reeve and Dyan Cannon was an absolute pleasure. In fact, it was thanks to this movie that I got into a "Michael Caine phase" and started renting as much of his stuff as humanly possible.
As for Deathtrap, there's enough juicy dialogue in here to fill up its "memorable quotes" section. (Unfortunately, much of the dialogue would inherently spoil the immensely entertaining plot).
It's really, really hard to talk about the movie without spoiling important plot points that are infinitely more fun to discover on your own. Needless to say, it's a must-see. But for me, it was the greatest and most rewarding blind purchase of all time.
Repeat viewings are a must.
And it deserves to sit alongside Sleuth on your DVD shelf.
I'll leave you with this beautifully written quote from the film: "I wonder if it wouldn't be...well...just a trifle starry-eyed of me to enter into such a risky and exciting collaboration...where I could count on no sense of moral obligation...whatsoever."
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