|Caine and Reeve star in this fun-filled thriller.|
Directed by Sidney Lumet
Produced by Burtt Harris
Written by Jay Presson Allen (from Ira Levin's play)
Starring Michael Caine, Christopher Reeve and Dyan Cannon
Sidney Bruhl (Caine) is a struggling playwright who wrote Broadway's longest running comedy thriller. Coming off his fourth flop in a row, he plots a murder, with the help of his cautious wife Myra (Cannon). Clifford Anderson (Reeve), a young writer and former pupil, has sent Sidney a brilliant script, and Sidney agrees to help him polish it up. However, Sidney really intends to kill him and steal the script to get back to the top. When Clifford arrives at Sidney's house in Long Island, he brings his origin draft and notes, which makes everything seemingly easy for Sidney. Myra is very nervous and could give the whole game away, but things won't go well for the trio, as nothing go as planned.
Lumet's adaptation of the Tony-nominated Broadway play is unfairly overlooked. It's akin to a poor man's Sleuth, but that's not a knock on either film/play. Deathtrap stands on its own as a sly thriller with plenty of twists to keep you guessing, or at least constantly entertained. Caine and Reeve share the most screen time, and they play quite well off each other. Reeve plays the innocent student with ease, and Caine relishes his nasty, desperate writer. The film is set almost entirely in one open area in Sidney's house, and the dialogue is front and center. It's witty, but it sometimes feels like we've heard it all before. That said, the film is fiendishly fun, with good performances and a thrilling plot. While it's not the most original comedic thriller, it has a certain charm that makes it a delightful viewing experience. Deathtrap might not be very popular these days, but it's still a good time.
Oscar Tally: None