Monday, September 16, 2013

#1,127. Deathtrap (1982)

Directed By: Sidney Lumet

Starring: Michael Caine, Christopher Reeve, Dyan Cannon

Tag line: "Join us for an evening of lively fun...and deadly games"

Trivia: The exteriors of the beautiful home of Sidney and Myra Bruhl in the film was portrayed by a lavish mansion on Long Island complete with its own old-world windmill

Sidney Lumet’s 1982 film Deathtrap is an incredibly enjoyable mystery, a movie that twists and turns in a bunch of different directions, offering one shocking revelation after another.

Based on a play by Ira Levin (with 1,793 performances, it holds the record for the longest running comedy-thriller on Broadway), Deathtrap stars Michael Caine as Sidney Bruhl, a playwright who hasn’t had a hit show in years. To add insult to injury, he’s just reviewed a manuscript written by Clifford Anderson (Christopher Reeve), a former pupil of his, that’s among the best he’s ever read. Desperate to turn his career around, Sidney tells his wife, Myra (Dyan Cannon), that he’s thinking about killing Clifford in order to steal his script. Tensions run high when Clifford spends an evening at the Bruhl house, with Myra doing everything she can to dissuade Sidney from carrying out his murderous scheme. But the question remains: just how far is Sidney Bruhl willing to go for a hit play?

That’s as much as I’m going to reveal here; anything more could ruin some nifty surprises. What I can tell you about Deathtrap is that its cast is extraordinary. Michael Caine is at his unhinged best as Sidney, the playwright who’s lost his touch. Enter Christopher Reeve, a friendly, naïve young writer who has written an incredible play, one so good that Sidney may be willing to kill for it. Dyan Cannon is hilarious as Sidney’s uber-nervous wife, Myra, and Irene Worth appears in the small but important role of Helga Ten Dorp, a psychic who’s a lot better at seeing the future than even she realizes. Along with the actors, the film’s set pieces are also pretty cool, especially Sidney’s study, which has a variety of weapons, from crossbows and Chinese stars to handguns, lining its walls. This, combined with a great cast, helped transform Deathtrap from an award–winning play into a slick, entertaining motion picture.

Believe me, I wish I could tell you more about Deathtrap; I’m dying to delve into this movie a bit further. But then, I run the risk of spoiling something special. With a labyrinthine plot that features a number of genuine surprises, Deathtrap is an absolute treat.

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