Deathtrap (1982)
July 9, 2024 9:27 PM - Subscribe

A struggling playwright invites a young writer to his home to discuss a script, but the meeting spirals into a deadly game of deception and betrayal.

"Deathtrap" is a wonderful windup fiction machine with a few modest ambitions: It wants to mislead us at every turn, confound all our expectations, and provide at least one moment when we levitate from our seats and come down screaming. It succeeds, more or less. It's a thriller that depends on all sorts of surprises for its effects, and you may continue reading in the confidence that I'll reveal none of them. [rogerebert] circa 1982.

posted by porpoise (7 comments total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
I will say that the plot twist that was kind of notorious at the time no longer seems that way IMO. Not sure how well this one aged, but it was pretty remarkable that Christopher Reeve, still doing the Superman movies, took this particular role; I'd compare it to another Chris (Evans) and some of the non-star-spangled stuff that he's done recently.
posted by Halloween Jack at 7:50 AM on July 10 [2 favorites]

One of my favorites. I first saw this as a kid on Saturday afternoon TV and certainly didn't see the twist coming. I used to think of it as Sleuth-lite, which I think is still an apt description.

Michael Caine making that phone call to the police always got my father howling with laughter.
posted by AlonzoMosleyFBI at 9:26 AM on July 10 [1 favorite]

We re-watched this a couple years ago, and it held up pretty well. It's a lot of fun.
posted by mrphancy at 9:39 AM on July 10

Years and years ago I originally came across this after catching the 2007 Sleuth, followed Michael Caine back to the original 1972 Sleuth. Then this. 'been rewatching that sequence again.

Shame what happened to Reeve but t/his performances remain uniformly charming regardless of the specifics.

Worth watching for (one of) the middle climax(es); Reeve's deal-sealing kiss.

Reeve overall, really.

Shitting on Caine being 42. lol. I turned 46 a couple of days ago and holy shit the difference in appearance/ health! from peeps back then.
posted by porpoise at 9:49 PM on July 10 [2 favorites]

I saw this decades ago and watched this again a few months ago with my boyfriend, who was seeing it for the first time. I'm not sure which twist you're referring to (I remember several), but my boyfriend was surprised by all of them. I'd say it still holds up.

Deathtrap, Rosemary's Baby, The Stepford Wives, and The Boys from Brazil--I'm not familiar with Ira Levin's other work but I'd be happy to have written any of these.
posted by johnofjack at 5:22 PM on July 11 [2 favorites]

We watch this every time it comes up on TCM. The cast is brilliant and the script is razor-sharp.
posted by Ber at 7:29 PM on July 13

I saw this in the theater on first release and remember being definitely onboard for the twists and turns. While being a serious drama, it still felt like the script was winking and saying “surprised by that? hold onto your seats!” Almost meta-fictional in its glee.
posted by GenjiandProust at 8:06 AM on July 15

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