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Sunday, November 4, 2012

Man Trap (1961)

Stuck in an unhappy marriage to a shrewish, boozed up nymphomaniac (Stella Stevens), a housing developer (Jeffrey Hunter) receives a visit from an old Korean war buddy (David Janssen) who lures him into helping rob a South American dictator of three million dollars. But they're both amateurs, dangerously out of their element and, of course, everything goes horribly wrong. Directed by the actor Edmond O'Brien (THE BAREFOOT CONTESSA), this should be better than it is. It has all the elements of a classic film noir but O'Brien can't seem to combine all the ingredients into a satisfying whole. It has an almost surreal quality to it like Hunter's neighborhood which seems populated entirely of alcoholic wife swappers. The film has a killer twist Hitchcockian ending just waiting to happen that I saw coming but it doesn't!!! To be fair, some of the problems may be inherent in the source material by John D. MacDonald (CAPE FEAR) but I haven't read the novel it's based on, TAINT OF THE TIGER. It doesn't help that potentially complex characters are played by such uninteresting actors as Hunter (who's weaker than usual) and Janssen which leaves Stevens' slut to take center stage. The film is nicely shot in wide screen B&W by Loyal Griggs (SHANE). With Elaine Devry, Bob Crane, Virginia Gregg, Frank Albertson, Perry Lopez and Dorothy Green.

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