The Trap (1959)


THE TRAP is a 1959 time filler about a lawyer (Richard Widmark) who tries to see that a mobster (Lee J.Cobb) is transported from an isolated Mojave Desert burg to Barstow, across 120 miles of California’s furnace country. Cobb’s men are waiting to ambush the hero, and his own brother (Earl Holliman) has a score to settle with him, since in the past Widmark was the boyfriend of Holliman’s dissatisfied wife (Tina Louise). Plus, Dad (Carl Benton Reid) is the local sheriff. Hot noir in the old arroyo tonight!


Heavy-going here, huffy & sweaty and a little much, though the desert scenery is eye-burning and La Louise is typically smoldering. Not one of Widmark’s better roles or performances, and Cobb does what he usually did, chewing the scenery like a wheat thrasher. Holliman is all over the place, but the writing doesn’t help him much.

Directed by Norman Panama, running 84 minutes, it came in a tired #74 for the year in terms of receipts.


Lorne Greene and Peter Baldwin do supporting roles. The nice color lensing credits Daniel L.Fapp. The music score is a mashup from ten composers, since there was a strike going on during filming, so old cues from other films were blended to give the flick a score. See if your educated movie-soundtrack ears can pick up bits from Bernard Herrmann, Miklos Rozsa, Victor Young or Franz Waxman. You’d have to be World Class to detect Walter Scharf, Van Cleave, Daniele Amfitheatrof, Alex North, Gerard Carbonara and Leith Stevens, but all those batons are waving somewhere in the background.


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