Friday, September 11, 2009

The Love Trap (William Wyler) *1/2

Director: William Wyler

Cast: Laura La Plante, Neil Hamilton, Robert Ellis, Jocelyn Lee, Norman Trevor

Background: William Wyler had made a number of silent films when he was chosen by Laura La Plante and her husband to direct her next feature. La Plante was best known for playing the heroine in Paul Leni's horror classic The Cat and the Canary.

Story: Poor Evelyn Todd (La Plante) has a chance meeting with wealthy Peter Harrington (Neil Hamilton) and they fall in love, but his family objects to their marriage when Peter's uncle (Trevor) remembers Evelyn from an unfortunate (and misunderstood) incident in her past.

Thoughts: What starts off as a mediocre romance gets progressively worse as the movie goes on. Chief among the problems this movie has is that the decision was made to switch to sound for the 2nd half. This is disastrous because most of the actors were apparently not ready for it. La Plante is particularly bad, with some nonsensical line readings in an awkward delivery. There's an illogical sequence at the end between La Plante and Trevor that is just painfully bad from every angle. The story is so weak that it probably wouldn't have mattered if it was done silent or not, but at least it might have been bearable. As it is, it's a struggle just to make it through the meager 71 minute running time.

Postscript: La Plante acted in many films over the next decade, but nothing of note. William Wyler would go on to a legendary directing career, winning three Oscars for Best Director.

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