In The Trap (1966), directed by the Scottish-born filmmaker Sidney Hayers, Oliver Reed stars as a 19th-century French Canadian fur trapper, Jean La Bete, who buys a mute orphan named Eve (Rita Tushingham) to be his wife. Amid the snowy, harsh terrain of the Canadian wilderness, an unlikely love develops between the pair, as Eve slowly overcomes her terror of the situation to start caring for Jean when he is injured.
Oliver Reed, who considered this one of his best films, researched his French-Canadian accent in part by spending several days in Montreal hanging around docks and pubs. Of his character, Jean, Reed said, “He thinks like an animal, he eats like an animal, he makes love like an animal. He’s a man of the forest who is unused to talking to people and mixing with people.” Of his co-star Rita Tushingham, he said, “She’s got a pair of eyes that I would like to go swimming in.”
Tushingham had launched to stardom with her first film, the kitchen sink drama A Taste of Honey (1961), and became a face of the British New Wave, a film movement which concentrated on working class, ordinary Britons. In 1965, she starred in The Knack...and How to Get It, bringing her Royal Court stage performance to the screen, and she had a role in David Lean’s Doctor Zhivago (1965). Both were hits, bringing Tushingham to the height of her fame. Her next film was The Trap, in which she delivers an extraordinarily expressive, silent performance. She later recalled, “I really enjoyed shooting The Trap, and I loved playing the role of Eve as it was so different to what I had done before. The preparation was far more concentrated as there was no dialogue. Oliver was such a good actor. He behaved in a professional manner on the set. I enjoyed working with him very much; he had a good sense of humor which is so important.”
The Trap filmed on location in spectacular British Columbia in the autumn of 1965, with studio work to follow in Vancouver and London. Shot in widescreen Eastmancolor by Robert Krasker, the well-mounted production drew strong reviews for its look and its performances.
The movie is also lifted by Ron Goodwin’s beautiful score, which in recent years has been used by the BBC to introduce its annual coverage of the London Marathon. Among Goodwin’s other credits are Where Eagles Dare (1968), The Battle of Britain (1969) and Alfred Hitchcock’s Frenzy (1972).