January 4, 2020

TRAPPED Has Been Sprung

TRAPPED (1949)
Starring Lloyd Bridges, Barbara Payton, John Hoyt, James Todd, Russ Conway, Robert Karnes. Directed by Richard Fleischer. (78 min).

Review by Mr. Paws😸

Trapped is a lesser-known slab of film noir, recently rescued from public domain obscurity by Flicker Alley. As such, it’s been given an exemplary restoration, with a much better overall image and sound than any previously slapped-together release. While hardly the most stylish thriller ever made, it’s efficient, quick-n-dirty fun with some nifty surprises along the way.

Many of those surprises are found in the plot itself, particularly during the first half. Incarcerated counterfeiter Tris Stewart (Lloyd Bridges) is offered a reduced sentence if he helps the Treasury Department track down the same engraving plates he once used to print fake bills. Agents plot a staged escape, but Stewart double-crosses them, which they actually expected to happen, having already bugged girlfriend Meg’s (Barbara Dixon) apartment and planted uncover agent John Downey (John Hoyt) as a low-level gangster in anticipation of Tris returning to his old ways. But the plot twists don’t end there.

"Looks like your boyfriend picked the wrong week to quit smoking."
For me, the biggest surprise was in the casting. Predating his days as an underwater man-of-action or glue-sniffing buffoon, Bridges is tough, cold-blooded and menacing as Stewart. Conversely, Hoyt – mostly known playing arrogant bad guys – makes a formidable adversary, ultimately becoming the story’s main protagonist. Their roles could have been reversed and the film would have been fine, but watching them play against type adds an extra layer of fun.

Economically directed by Richard Fleischer, Trapped may not rank among the stone cold noir classics, but it’s entertaining and unpredictable, with interesting characters bolstered by solid performances. This disc also includes a some bonus features that explore the film’s backstory, with particular emphasis on Fleischer and Barbara Dixon, the latter whose life choices pretty much destroyed a promising career. For film noir lovers, Trapped is worth rediscovering.

"FEELING TRAPPED” - A retrospective look back at the film featuring numerous interviews, including TCM’s Eddie Muller. Barbara Payton sure met a sad end.
"A SEDULOUS CINDERELLA: RICHARD FLEISCHER REMEMBERED” - The director’s son, Mark, discusses his father’s eclectic career.
AUDIO COMMENTARY – By author Alan K. Rode & historian Julie Kirgo.
SUPPLEMENTARY BOOKLET – Includes photos, promotional art, storyboards, actor & director bios and a brief essay about the restoration by Eddie Muller.

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