As a general rule, film noir should take place in urban environments and be filmed in black and white. Yet there are a few canonical noir films that are in color. Curiously, those movies usually also take place in the desert.
Such is the case with 1959’s The Trap, where Richard Widmark tries to prevent mafia kingpin Lee J. Cobb from making it to a getaway plane scheduled to land at a local airstrip.
There are many surprises in this movie, and I hate to spoil any of them, but something happens early in the film that I can’t help but reveal. I thought the action would stay in the town as a battle unfolds between gangsters and local lawmen. Instead, a henchman kills the sheriff, who is also Widmark’s father, and The Trap turns into a road movie in which Widmark, his brother (a deputy), sister-in-law and Cobb drive through a gauntlet of mob enforcers.
It is pretty exciting stuff, and there are some more twists ahead. There are lulls in the action, and the movie is occasionally bogged down by a love triangle subplot, but the atmosphere largely stays taut with suspense.
The Trap definitely held my attention, and even subverted some of my expectations. It may not be what I would normally categorize as noir, but it was very enjoyable regardless of the genre it may be classified as.
Dir: Norman Panama
Starring Richard Widmark, Lee J. Cobb, Tina Louise
Watched on Olive Films blu-ray