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MICHAEL CAINE AND CHRISTOPHER REEVE PLAY FOR 'DEATHTRAP'

Rubik's Cube Poster with Michael Caine, Christopher Reeve & Dyan Cannon in DEATH TRAP Year: 1982

Collected antique weapons hanging like pictures in a Mystery writer's home; a middle twist more important than the end twist; and a quirky female character with a particularly odd yet important trait that causes her to possibly acquire everything.... Yes, indeed... Rian Johnson's KNIVES OUT owes a lot to Sidney Lumet's DEATHTRAP...

Except that the first is an actual Mystery (instead of a political message masquerading as one) and quite a thrilling Thriller while some scenes feel more like a jarring Exploitation Horror flick....

Michael Caine & Christopher Reeve in Deathtrap with Dyan Cannon

Wherein Michael Caine's a has-been mystery playwright, who, after making a string of flops, plans with screechy wife Dyan Cannon to kill one of his former students, having written an incredible play that's also called DEATHTRAP and could get him back on track — if only he wrote it himself!

Anyone who's taken this particular roller coaster knows that the input of Cannon's character means close to nothing by the end, that is, her end when the movie/play really begins — involving Caine and Reeve, now both open and honest together yet sharing no trust whatsoever. Their performances become more pointed and intense and also more loose and darkly humorous...

Christopher Reeve and Michael Caine in DEATHTRAP Rating: ***1/2

The problem is that older lady character who, unlike KNIVES OUT, isn't even good to look at: An old kooky Danish psychic who does none of the work involved that Caine and Reeve literally bleed for. And the fact she can see the future deletes much of the suspense concerning our co-leads, who would be far better off without her intrusion — plus the cop-out nature of her character existing at all. Her scenes are like bad commercials during an engrossing program...

As for the people that matter, Caine combines comedy and drama with his usual sly charm while a vulnerable, sometimes deathly desperate Reeve proves he's more than a superhero. If only this were a four person play instead of five. What's good could have been great. Even classic. 

Christopher Reeve and Michael Caine in DEATHTRAP
Christopher Reeve and Michael Caine in DEATHTRAP
Christopher Reeve in DEATHTRAP
Christopher Reeve in DEATHTRAP with a worthless Irene Worth
Michael Caine in DEATHTRAP
Christopher Reeve in DEATHTRAP
Christopher Reeve in DEATHTRAP
Christopher Reeve and Michael Caine in DEATHTRAP
Michael Caine in DEATHTRAP
Michael Caine in DEATHTRAP

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