Friday, 10 April 2015

The Trap (1966)

It may be a bit of hoary old melodrama set in the rugged wilds of nineteenth century Canada, but I've always had huge affection for The Trap, a somewhat overlooked and largely forgotten mid 60s Anglo/Canadian production starring Oliver Reed as the lusty fur trapper Jean La Bete and Rita Tushingham as the mute young girl he buys to become his bride, Evie. I think it was seeing it with my Dad one evening back in the 80s or early 90s that did it, and of course, I defy anyone here in the UK not to be familiar with its rousing, stirring theme tune from the great Ron Goodwin, shared below - the BBC use it as their theme for the London Marathon coverage every year.

The dramatic and savage story centres around the constant battle for survival by man against nature and his personal loneliness. As the gregarious Le Bete, Reed arrives into a small coastal trading port with money to spend on wine, women and song. Women especially being on his agenda - he wants a bride to take back to his hunting shack in the mountains and lakes of British Columbia. However, he's too late for the yearly auction of women convicts from across the border in America and, thanks to a duplicitous evil stepmother, he purchases the traumatised Eve (Tushingham) who has been mute ever since she saw her real family massacred by Indians.

This was Reed's big break away from the Hammer horror films he had learned his trade on and he grabs the role with great relish and enthusiasm, making every inch of this physical, uncultured giant palpable. It is of course in stark contrast to his leading lady, the timid Tushingham whom he christens 'little rabbit' and whom naturally loathes him at first but, somewhat inevitably, learns to love both him and the rugged way of life he introduces her to. Tushingham was just 23 at the time and fresh from Richard Lester's The Knack, which couldn't have been more different. She gives a wonderfully expressive and physical performance as befits a role which affords her not one line of dialogue across the 100 minute duration.

The Trap is a good old fashioned ripping yarn shot on location on the lakes and in the forest of British Columbia, it is strikingly beautiful and, even if on occasion Reed and Tushingham are clearly taking potshots at National Geographic footage, director Sidney Hayers captures an impressive and authentic air to the proceedings enlivened by superb playing from its young assured leads and that superb Goodwin score.


  1. The Trap sounds like something I would enjoy now - but somehow at the time, despite liking Olly and Rita, it just did not appeal .... we had so many movies to choose from then, and had to see them all at the cinema in that pre-video age .... I suppose one could not go and see everything. It never pops up on tv,I may look for a cheap dvd ...
    Rita is amusing too in THE GURU, that early Merchant-Ivory made in India with Michael York as a George Harrison type pop star learing the sitar! Very 1969. and of course we love them (with Lynn Redgrave, Anna Quayle etc) in 1968's classic SMASHING TIME with that Post Office tower groovy party .... and the grim streets of Camden, and the girls Brenda and Yvonne screaming "We're here" as they arrive at Kings Cross. Utter bliss. George Melly's witty script captured it all, Brenda and Yvonne were "Private Eye's" nick-names for The Queen and Princess Margaret.

    1. It's available on DVDR from various sites for reasonable prices. I think Stojo has it and I recommend them highly.

      I like The Guru but I feel Tush seems a little miscast in it, seems like the part called for Julie Christie. Smashing Time is a delight. I had the pleasure of meeting George Melly not long before he passed away, sadly. He was a character.

  2. He certainly was. His autobio is a delight too.Rum bum & concertina !