Deathtrap (1982) starring Michael Caine, Christopher Reeves, Dyan Cannon, directed by Sidney Lumet
Product description of Deathtrap
A bittersweet reminder of Christopher Reeve’s considerable acting talent, as well as yet another tour de force for Michael Caine, this taut thriller evolved seamlessly from a stage play by Ira Levin to a superb film directed by Sidney Lumet. Don’t even try to figure out the plot! Just hang on tight and enjoy the roller-coaster ride. About 2 hours.
Michael Caine once described his character of Sidney Bruhl in this movie: “He’s a very successful mystery writer, with expensive tastes and a sick wife, whose macabre muse has deserted him. He has always assumed that committing crime on paper siphons one’s hostilities. But now, after a lifetime of vicarious murder, Bruhl finds himself fantasizing the real thing. Even so, I kept asking myself – how do you explain his strange behavior? Childhood trauma? A deep-rooted compulsion? The stigma of a name like Sidney? No, that’s all too simple. The answer is that he’s mad – stark raving mad! It’s a lovely role.”
Christopher Reeve once commented on his character Clifford Anderson: “There’s a certain ‘gee whiz’ quality about Clifford when you first meet him. But once you get to know him better – an experience that’s just about as comfortable as dining with the Borgias – he’s a very peculiar fellow.”
Editorial review of Deathtrap courtesy of Amazon.com
Man (Christopher Reeve) writes play. Older washed-up hack (the blissfully hammy Michael Caine) covets play. A meeting is arranged in a remote cabin festooned with various sharp objects. To reveal anything more would serve to ruin one of the most wondrously convoluted plots of the ’80s and ’90s. It’s a cerebrum-bending romp from start to finish, with marvelously airtight plotting that simultaneously parodies and honors its genre, and two vibrant, continuously morphing lead performances (pity poor Dyan Cannon’s weak-link wife, though, who gets stuck with the shrillest character and worst dialogue of the lot).
Based on Ira Levin’s long-running play, this adaptation’s rhythm is thrown off a bit by director Sidney Lumet’s somewhat misguided attempts to open it up for the screen, but the script and performers are so playfully adept that, as one of the characters says, “even a gifted director (which Lumet most certainly is, based on evidence such as Dog Day Afternoon and Network) couldn’t hurt it.” Delirious, nasty fun that’s twistier than a corkscrew and loaded with enough red herrings to keep Flipper fed for a year. –Andrew Wright