Lively, entertaining reviews of, and essays on, old and newer films and everything relating to them, written by professional author William Schoell.

Thursday, March 24, 2016


David Janssen and Jeffrey Hunter
MAN-TRAP (1961 ) Director: Edmond O'Brien.

"Lipstick on your chin is almost a sign of innocence. If he wasn't innocent all the lipstick would have been wiped off."

Matt (Jeffrey Hunter) saves Vince's (David Janssen) life on a Korean battlefield, so Vince tries to repay the favor by cutting him in on a deal. Matt works for his father-in-law and is married to an adulterous borderline shrew, Nina (Stella Stevens), but he is having his own affair with a sympathetic woman named Liz (Elaine Devry), who also works for his father-in-law's firm. Fed up with Nina, and wanting to run off with Liz, Matt agrees to Vince's suggestion to steal a suitcase of money which is supposedly to be used to buy guns for a South American revolution. However, this caper is not nearly as simple as Vince has led him to believe ... Man-Trap is a completely unpredictable thriller with interesting developments and twists and turns throughout its running time. Hunter and Janssen both offer excellent performances, and are at least matched by Steven's [The Mad Room] vital portrayal (making the woman much more dimensional in her way than a lesser actress might have done) and Devry, who gets across all of the conflicted feelings her character has about Matt. Virginia Gregg [Crime in the Streets] is also wonderful as Ruthie, Matt and Nina's housekeeper, and one of the best scenes in the movie is her ugly confrontation with Nina. Another memorable scene has Nina taking a poker to her husband's head and nearly being strangled because of it. The robbery sequence is well-handled and even a bit chilling. Bob Crane and Frank Albertson have smaller roles. Nina and her drunk friends are fond of running around with water pistols full of booze. Actor Edmond O'Brian only directed two films -- the less interesting Shield for Murder was co-directed by Howard W. Koch --  but he does such a good job with this one it's too bad he didn't direct others.

Verdict: Very snappy and absorbing crime thriller with fine performances. ***.


angelman66 said...

This one looks good. And Jeffrey Hunter is watchable in anything. Boy, was he ever handsome! He'll be all over the tube this Easter weekend as our best-looking cinema Jesus!

William said...

Yes, Hunter was hot, and died much too young due to an accident. Gives a good performance in this as well.