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The Tender Trap
The Tender Trap
Actors: Frank Sinatra, Debbie Reynolds
Genres: Comedy, Musicals & Performing Arts
NR     2008     1hr 51min

The future is no mystery to Julie Gillis. She has her life mapped out in details that fall just shy of where the wedding portrait will hang and the number of goldfish swimming in the bowl. Julie even knows she?ll be marrie...  more »


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Movie Details

Actors: Frank Sinatra, Debbie Reynolds
Genres: Comedy, Musicals & Performing Arts
Sub-Genres: Romantic Comedies, Classic Comedies, Musicals
Studio: Warner Home Video
Format: DVD - Widescreen - Subtitled
DVD Release Date: 05/13/2008
Original Release Date: 01/01/1955
Theatrical Release Date: 01/01/1955
Release Year: 2008
Run Time: 1hr 51min
Screens: Widescreen
Number of Discs: 1
SwapaDVD Credits: 1
Total Copies: 0
Members Wishing: 4
MPAA Rating: NR (Not Rated)
Languages: English
Subtitles: English, French, Portuguese

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Movie Reviews

Great little movie!
inframan | the lower depths | 12/03/2003
(4 out of 5 stars)

"Boy, the reviewers here are pretty harsh on this movie. Calling it dated is like calling Snow White or Cinderella unrealistic. It's a frothy funny well-written & well-acted film with one of Sinatra's most engaging performances & some great support from Debbie Reynolds, David Wayne & Celeste Holm. Plus one hilarious set-piece scene about a hung-over morning after.

Directed by the mostly unsung Charles Walters who started off as a fine dancer & great choreographer. Well-worth watching.

By the way, Robert Preston starred in the original Broadway version the year before."
Scrivener | San Diego, CA United States | 04/05/2001
(4 out of 5 stars)

"*The Tender Trap* has got to be one of the most scathing indictments of Fifties life ever put to screen. The screenwriters practically beat us over the head with their disgust of the reigning conformities. It's right in the title, after all: "Trap".I'm afraid that, today, this movie will be misunderstood. People will see it as another dumb Sinatra Swinging-Guy movie with a hep little tune thrown in. You gotta read between the lines with this one: consider the Debbie Reynolds character. She says things like "A woman just isn't FULFILLED until she's married and has children, dontcha think?" Her character has a promising career as a stage singer, but will throw it away toot-sweet just as soon as she can find herself a husband. In fact, her single-minded, frenzied ambition for landing a hubby should send up the red flags for you. The screenwriters, in their own frenzy of sarcasm, have created a terrifying figure in the chillingly perky frame of Miss Reynolds. Jeepers, she even goes to some sort of Homemakers Convention, sizing up the appliances and furniture, husband-hunting in the weirdest way I've ever seen in a movie -- she has several men sit in a easy chair, trying to discern WHICH man best "fits in" with the furniture she's fond of. Uh, the message is pretty loud and clear! Sinatra's buddy from Indianapolis, the not-coincidentally named Joe (the typical American Shmo, 50's style), loves his wife of eleven years so much that he decides to shack up with Sinatra's Charlie for TWO WEEKS, to do . . . what? Figure it out. This Joe guy, played by David Wayne, is the probably the key to the whole picture, and is certainly contrasted with marriage-and-babies-crazy Debbie Reynolds. We see the results of a good Fifties marriage: Joe hides out, drinking and smoking like a maniac in his swinger-friend's sleazy apartment, whining about his wife's love of wall-to-wall carpeting and the cost of the kids' braces. He begins dating one of the swinger's girlfriends, Sylvia (brilliantly played by Celeste Holm). This Family Man proposes to Sylvia near the end of the picture (she talks him out of it). The hypocrite will return home to his wife in Indianapolis, who will never know how close her husband came to abandoning her. Getting the idea? Sylvia's another key character: in a startling monologue directed at Joe, she talks about how a woman is washed up by the age of 33. There are no available men left (thanks to the emasculating Reynolds types who circle guys like a pride of sharks), and those who are available are nutcases working on their fifth divorce, 19-year-olds looking for Mamas, etc. It's yet another depressing, scathing, indictment of what was going on culturally.Another great scene is when Sinatra and Reynolds are alone at her parents' apartment. They turn on TV, and watch a bathing couple make out. Panting, Ms. Reynolds switches off the set and opens what she hopes will be a dull art book, which turns out to contain sexy Raphaelite prints. She slams the book closed, only to see a married couple make out from the apartment across the way. Aroused, Sinatra puts the make on her, and she tells him that the other couple have the "right" to do that, because of their state of grace as a married couple. Predictably, the scene ends in a big fight, which is the only way these horribly repressed people can release all their pent-up hormones.Invaluable as a study of 1950's attitudes toward sex and marriage, *The Tender Trap* will surprise you. It was the Good Old Days . . . and certain moviemakers were none too happy about it. Fascinating."
"You are the softest girl."
H. Bala | Carson - hey, we have an IKEA store! - CA USA | 03/08/2008
(4 out of 5 stars)

"- Julie Gillis to Charlie Reader (responding to his offer of dinner): "Well, I've only known you a few minutes, but you seem fairly nice. You're even attractive in a...offbeat, beat-up sort of way."
- Charlie: "Thanks a lot."
- Julie: "But I can't have dinner with every nice, attractive man I meet. It's not part of my plan."
- Charlie: "How's that plan again?"
- Julie: "My marriage plan."

Frank Sinatra plays New York theater agent and swingin' bachelor Charlie Y. Reader, whose tryst with a hottie is interrupted by his sarcastic, longtime pal Joe from Indianapolis, who pays him a visit and then becomes a house guest (he'd just left his wife, Ethel, you see?). When Joe marvels at the series of beautiful dames Frank sees ("Where do all these tomatoes come from?"), Frank tells him, "Sure, it's fun. But let's face it...I would be happy to trade this rat race for your set-up in two seconds." Turns out Frank is weary of the fast lane and longs for domesticated bliss - if only he could find the right girl. One candidate seems to be Sylvia Crewes (Celeste Holm), a sexy, sophisticated fiddle-player.

But, then, in comes 21-year-old aspiring actress Julie Gillis (Debbie Reynolds), with whom Charlie is instantly attracted. But Julie is uptight, rigid and exacting, with definite, long-conceived plans for marriage. And, no, she doesn't at all buy what Charlie's selling. That is, until, he sings a song. Then, of course, she's butter.

So Charlie and Julie start keeping company, with Sylvia then being perenially stood up and Joe going out with her as Charlie's stand-in. Anyway, for Charlie and Julie, the usual events unfold, a bit of wooing followed by a big spat, leading up to a traumatized Charlie somehow proposing marriage to both Julie and Sylvia on the same night.

Oh, yes. Meanwhile, the still-married Joe has fallen hard for Sylvia. How ever do these wacky things happen?

Put me down as someone who finds THE TENDER TRAP a charming and enjoyable movie. It's a breezy, lightweight, metropolitan sex comedy, for all that it's rated PG (but, yes, this is very tame stuff compared to today's films). I've always liked how this film started, with Ol' Blue Eyes as a tiny figure on the horizon, casually strolling towards the camera and singing the title song as only he can ("You see a pair of laughing eyes..."). MGM released THE TENDER TRAP in 1955, and it turned out to be one of the first films to revamp Frank's screen image from a perenially shy crooner who loved his love from afar to a hip ladies' man who doesn't waste time getting close to his dames.

The cast is very nice. We all know Frank Sinatra and what he brings to the table; he's so relaxed and cool that he makes me want to be a womanizing heel (and armed with Charlie Reader's favorite come-on line - "You are the softest girl" - how can I lose?). Frank gets a good sidekick in David Wayne, who's very good as the level-headed Joe McCall (even if Joe's going thru a mid-life crisis). Wayne drops his share of one-liners and even makes a serious bid for one of Frank's girls.

Pretty Debbie Reynolds was personally riding high around this time, about to marry warbler Eddie Fisher. As Julie, she really makes that prim and proper act work, while showing glimpses of a softer, more vulnerable side. But I couldn't help but root for Celeste Holm's character, who is pragmatic yet wistful, mature yet ever so sexy. Her Sylvia may be a suave and cosmopolitan career woman, but, deep down, she wants the same things that Julie wants, which is a family of her own. Her bittersweet speech to David Wayne (about the lean prospects of a woman of 33) may just have been the best acting moment in this movie. For those who may have pulled for Sylvia and Charlie to get together, no worries. They kind of do, even if it's in another film (High Society). But even in this movie, Celeste ends up doing pretty well, successfully pulling off her own "tender trap."

For those expecting a bunch of songs, well, don't. THE TENDER TRAP is very much a comedy, and not a musical. But if you like the title song, then the good news is that it's reprised five times, with Frank doing the opening honors and then performing it again halfway thru (in the second version, his talent for phrasing really shines thru). Debbie does a breezy version and then, later, sings it with more feeling. And the four stars sing a brief rendition at the end. It's a good song, so no surprise that "The Tender Trap" would become a standard and a fixture in Frank's song repertoire.

I say, three and a half stars for THE TENDER TRAP. The sexual mores may be dated, and the jargon not so hip anymore, but the movie's still very much worth checking out. As a fan of Frank, I definitely feel that his presence elevates the picture, although the contributions of the other actors shouldn't be discounted.

You know, on second thought, I think I'll pass on that one pick-up line. I think only someone like Frank can pull off something as cheesy as "You're the softest girl.""
Worth it for the title song.
Adam Preble | Atlanta, GA United States | 12/03/2003
(4 out of 5 stars)

"I didn't grow up with Frank Sinatra, so the title song was just a nice Sinatra tune I'd heard a few times before I saw this film. Watching Debbie Reynolds and Sinatra perform it was sublime. (the 'finale' performance is dreadful, however)As for the film itself, all you really need to know is that Sinatra is the New York bachelor, still playing the field into his thirties. Reynolds is dead-set on getting married: she has a deadline picked out, among other things. Sinatra goes after Reynolds. While at first I found Reynolds' character to be over the top, the scene in which she's scouting out her future home decorations sold me. She's eccentric, but once she finds her man she nestles right in. Sinatra is right at home in the role, of course. As to the plot, it does drag, but I think the only thing this film is guilty of is treating the issues it brings up with respect. Naturally, it all comes to the climactic conflict, and I applaud The Tender Trap for not sweeping it out of the viewer's mind as cleanly as another light-hearted film might. The characters are in a mess, and the innocent (or foolish) stand to get hurt. The film takes the time to resolve each of their situations admirably. It's not the swiftest wrap-up, but I think it pays off for the patient.And then you can rewind it and watch Sinatra and Reynolds perform (Love Is) The Tender Trap all over again."