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Charlie Reader (Frank Sinatra) is an agent in New York who lives the high life as a bachelor dating a series of beautiful women. Longing for the stability of married life, he runs into Julie Gillis (Debbie Reynolds), who is determined to get married but has little tolerance for Charlie's romantic liaisons. Unable to make up his mind, Charlie proposes to Julie and Sylvia (Celeste Holm) at the same time, and the requisite comic complications ensue.
Although lightly regarded by critics today, The Tender Trap (1955) came during a crucial point in Sinatra's career. Having made a triumphant comeback a few years earlier with From Here to Eternity (1953), he continued to display his diversity as an actor by playing a drug addict in The Man With the Golden Arm (1955), for which he received an Oscar® nomination and The Tender Trap, a light comedy in the same year. The title song, "(Love is) the Tender Trap," written by Sinatra's regular collaborators Sammy Cahn and James Van Heusen, was given an Oscar® nomination for Best Song and became a signature song in Sinatra's repertoire; it hit #7 on the music charts in December of that year. During this period Sinatra's singing career also reached a breakthrough with albums such as In the Wee Small Hours and Songs for Swingin' Lovers, arranged by Nelson Riddle, in which he displayed greater emotional depth in his interpretations.
Max Shulman, who co-wrote the play, wrote a series of popular humor books in the 1950's, but is perhaps best known for creating the TV series, The Many Loves of Dobie Gillis (1959-63). Julius Epstein, along with his twin brother Philip, and Howard Koch had previously scored big with the screenplay for Casablanca (1942). Celeste Holm, best known for creating the role of Ado Annie in the original Broadway production of Oklahoma (1943), would later appear with Sinatra as the photographer Liz Imbrie in High Society (1956).
Director: Charles Walters
Producer: Lawrence Weingarten
Screenplay: Julius J. Epstein (based on a play by Max Shulman and Robert Paul Smith)
Cinematography: Paul C. Vogel
Editing: John Dunning
Music: Jeff Alexander
Cast: Frank Sinatra (Charlie Y. Reader), Debbie Reynolds (Julie Gillis), David Wayne (Joe McCall), Celeste Holm (Sylvia Crewes), Lola Albright (Poppy), Jarma Lewis (Jessica), Carolyn Jones (Helen), Howard St. John (Mr. Sayers), James Drury (Eddie).
C-112m. Close captioning. Letterboxed. Descriptive Video.
by James Steffen