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Malcolm St. Clair
Johnny Mack Brown,
Charlie Reader is a successful theater agent. He is also successful with young ladies. One day he is visited by his old friend Joe, married with three children. Joe falls in love with Charlie's girl Sylvia while Charlie spends his time with young actress Julie.Written by
The tender trap is a Sinatra film, a fifties time capsule. As such, it comes fully loaded with a swinger versus good girl mentality. The woman always wants the picket fence and the man always wants the ultimate bachelor lifestyle (in Sinatra's case, complete with sexy dog-walkers and cheese delivery). So with this sort of fluffy 50's movie, it's easy to scoff and call it outdated and campy, and neglect to consider the fact that perhaps there lingers in it the tragedy of the era. My apologies for melodrama. But in the character of Sylvie (the unforgettable Celeste Holmes) is there encompassed a certain element of poignance that is strange to find in such a film as this.
In the midst of the predictable plot and romantic mayhem sorted out so simply, perhaps by fate, perhaps by unimaginative writing. But in Celeste Holmes is there contained something deeper. A regret, hopelessness, I'll-settle-for-anything quality of the middle-aged (or thereabouts) successful career woman who didn't go for a family right away, and thus finds herself condemned to either "Married men. Drunks. Pretty boys looking for someone to support them. Lunatics looking for their fifth divorce!" or a Sinatra. To see her sitting at a table across from Debbie Reynolds, 21, with all her plan figured out beforehand, claiming that without such precautions a woman runs the risk of spinsterhood. You can't help but feel for the spinster herself as she gazes with quiet desperation at Sinatra. Her last hope.
Yes The Tender Trap had quite a few weaknesses, but in all, I can't help but find it strange and lovely to find such fluff encrusted poignance. Sinatra and Debbie were cute, but when it came down to it, Celeste Holmes was magnificent.
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