Saturday, September 12, 2015


Year 7, Day 255 - 9/12/15 - Movie #2,147

BEFORE: I'm going to sneak in my Saturday film on Saturday afternoon, so tonight after midnight I can watch my Sunday film, and I'll be back ahead on the count again.  The Watchlist is still at 140 films, that number hasn't changed in weeks, because I keep finding more films to work into the chain.  But all of those new films are going into next year's line-up, because I don't have any time now to restructure the rest of 2015's chain.  Whatever happens next year will largely depend on what films I add over the holiday break, anyway.  I can't accurately predict a new starting point on Jan. 1 until I can see the entire list of what's left at that point.

Michael Caine carries over from "Flawless", and we'll see Caine one more time tomorrow, then again for "Interstellar", and again at Christmastime in "Muppet Christmas Carol".  I guess that's the best I can do now, I can't get all of the Caine films together, so at least Caine will link to Max von Sydow in "Star Wars: Episode 7" via "Hannah and Her Sisters", or alternately Frank Oz (as the voice of Yoda) is an indirect link to half the cast.  If there's some kind of uncredited cameo in Episode 7 from Yoda, even just his voice, that would really help me out, so someone please get working on that. 

Next year, if I do another Big Year, I may have to resort to characters carrying over, like if I watch an animated film with Superman or Batman right before "Superman v. Batman", that should count, right?  We'll see.

THE PLOT: A Broadway playwright puts murder in his plan to take credit for a student's script.

AFTER: Earlier this week, I was railing on "Seven Psychopaths" for having characters who were also nascent screenwriters, always discussing their screenplays, which were based on their lives, so that in the end the audiences gets a film where we can't tell the difference between the film and the film-within-a-film.  I should hate "Deathtrap" for the same reasons - it focuses on two playwrights, who are always discussing their play, which is based on events in their life, and since the play "Deathtrap" bears a close resemblance to the film we're watching, once again, it's difficult to tell the difference between the film and the play-within-the film.

And ultimately, the play being written becomes the film we're watching - or does it?  There are certainly a lot of similarities - two acts, no more than five characters, and it's largely set in one room of a big country house.  And in fact, "Deathtrap" was a play by Ira Levin before it was a film directed by Sidney Lumet.  (The main character's name is also Sidney - this film is so self-referential that at some point it becomes like the snake eating its own tail...)

Sidney is an aging playwright whose last play was badly reviewed, and it's only a matter of time before his wife's fortune runs out.  On the urging of his wife, he agrees to collaborate with a young former student who has written a play (using techniques learned during Sidney's writing classes) and Sidney finds the play to be nearly perfect.  So the plan is hatched to try and kill the young student, and present the play as Sidney's own.  

Here's where I'll stop talking about the plot, because there are so many twists and reversals that I don't want to give any of them away - but I thought I could see where this one was going, and I was dead wrong.  I figured on one kind of triangle, but there was another kind instead.  

And I'll say I should have hated this one because it falls back into that "writers writing about writing" abyss, which is a bit like holding up two mirrors across from each other and staring back into infinity.  But I didn't hate this one so much, so perhaps there is a way for a writer to write about writers writing about writing without it driving me mad.  

The theater seen in the opening sequence (one of the few scenes taking place outside the house in the Hamptons) is the Music Box Theater, which is where "Deathtrap" originally ran as a play, and has been the home of many notable productions, including "Sleuth" (come back here tomorrow for that one), and also the stage productions of "Dangerous Liaisons", "A Few Good Men", the revival of "Amadeus", part of the run of "August: Osage County", and the recent revivals of "Pippin" and "The Heidi Chronicles".  And what was running at the Music Box when they filmed the opening of "Deathtrap"?  The play "Deathtrap", of course. 

Also starring Christopher Reeve (last seen in "The Remains of the Day"), Dyan Cannon (last seen in "Bob & Carol & Ted & Alice"), Irene Worth (last seen in "Eyewitness"), Henry Jones (last seen in "Vertigo"), with cameos from Jeffrey Lyons, Joel Siegel.

RATING: 6 out of 10 carbon copies

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