Tuesday, June 01, 2021

Tonight's Movie: The Tender Trap (1955) - A Warner Archive Blu-ray Review

One of my all-time favorite romantic comedies, THE TENDER TRAP (1955), has just been released on Blu-ray by the Warner Archive.

I couldn't guess how many times I've seen this film, which was a television staple when I was growing up.  I reviewed it here in 2012; as a matter of fact, I remember I'd recently had major surgery and it was one of the first movies I reached for during my recovery, which gives an idea of just how much I like it.  

All it takes is that amazing opening sequence when Frank Sinatra walks toward the camera singing that marvelous Cahn-Van Heusen title song, and I'm hooked.

Sinatra plays Charlie, a New York theatrical agent who has a seemingly enviable life, unattached yet surrounded by gorgeous gals hoping to land him by cleaning his house, walking his dog, cooking his meals, and more.  

To date he's not been caught by Celeste Holm, Carolyn Jones, Lola Albright, or Jarma Lewis, among others, but when he crosses paths with a young marriage-minded actress named Julie Gillis (Debbie Reynolds), he finally, very unexpectedly, finds himself caught in the "tender trap."

Director Charles Walters takes what might have been a somewhat tasteless story about a playboy (Sinatra) who simply uses his "497" girlfriends and instead turns it into a confection which is simultaneously lighter than air and filled with serious issues: Charlie has some growing up to do; Sylvia (Holm) has a wonderful professional life but is lonely; and Charlie's old friend Joe (David Wayne) is wondering if he's still committed to his 11-year marriage.

Everything about this film is perfection: The casting, the line readings from an excellent script, the Helen Rose costumes, the hats -- and, once again, that Oscar-nominated song, which gets plenty of play.  Sinatra's opening performance of the song is utterly iconic, and when the cast reprises it at the end of the film my eyes get a little misty, simply because the song, the cast, and the movie make me happy.  Can't ask for more than that!

This 111-minute film was shot in CinemaScope by Paul Vogel.  The script by Julius J. Epstein was based on a play by Max Shulman and Robert Paul Smith.

The supporting cast includes Howard St. John, Tom Helmore, Willard Sage, Madge Blake, and, briefly, a young James Drury.

The Blu-ray includes a "Frank in the Fifties" featurette carried over from the film's prior DVD release.  Also on the disc are the trailer and two episodes of the MGM PARADE TV show which promoted the studio's movies.

The Blu-ray print and sound are both excellent.  I unabashedly love this movie and recommend this release.

Thanks to the Warner Archive for providing a review copy of this Blu-ray. Warner Archive Blu-rays may be ordered from the Warner Archive Amazon Store or any online retailers where Blu-rays are sold.


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