Page 6, 23rd September 1966

23rd September 1966
Page 6
Page 6, 23rd September 1966 — TAMING A WENCH IN THE SAVAGE NORTH
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TAMING A WENCH IN THE SAVAGE NORTH

ON all counts The Trap ("U". Leicester Square Theatre) springs a surprise. Rita Tushingham, ever since "The Taste of Honey" has been the particular hope of 13ritish films.

Oliver Reed has led gangs of young men the modern way to meaning. So their teaming suggested the very latest in film sophistication. Courtly company to find in the Wild West.

For "The Trap" is a very basic British Western, a primitive Western in the sense that people talk of primitive art by artists who are far from primitive.

Set in farthest Canada, in British Columbia, this is as much a Northern as a Western. Jean La Bete (Oliver Reed), strong and silent French-Canadian, returns from a season's trapping in the frozen North to the settlement

which had almost written him off (if anybody could write) for dead.

He arrives with a handsome haul of furs and wanting a wife, on the same day as a boatload of bondwomen, girls for sale. The girl he buys is Eve (Rita Tushingham), serving-wench of the local trapper and his wife.

Eve is dumb, as a result of having been frightened by Indians who murdered her mother; now she becomes part of the deal for La Bete's furs.

He takes her away for a solitary winter's hunting and trapping, one of those makeor-break experiences where it is hardly possible to tell hunter from hunted, between the wolves, cougars and bears on the one hand and on the other the man, who gets his leg caught in the hideous trap he scts for them.

After a season in the log cabin, shooting, trapping and nursing for the wounded man, it is the wench who is tamed into a. bride.

Almost every stock situation of the Western is here, even including escape by canoe through the rapids.. I found it difficult to guess the intentions of the author (David Osborn) producer (George H. Brown) or director (Sidney Hayers).

For a moment I thought it might he parody, but clearly everybody is too straight-faced and much too grim for that. Or was it perhaps a throw in the game where the BBC had just announced an end • to Westerns?

Most likely it is just an excercise in Western-making from the very first letter in the hook—plus line. lush colour. Rita 'I ushingham has little to do but look scared; Reed to be strong and silent. The wild

animals have only to light, frighten or be frightened.

What I like best about the film is that it has almost no dialogue. What • alarms me most is that in this perverse age it might conceivably he a huge success.

In The Sleeping Car Murder ("X". La Continentale and the Paris-Pullman) we see the French doing much the same thing: using their highly sophisticated art and artists (Yves Montand and Simone .Signore() for an exercise in the Madame Signoret is a marvellous actress and her display of a middle-aged actress trying to bamboozle the police (Yves Montand) as to who was sleeping in which berth and why a touring actress needs to travel

i in some style, is a joy.

M. Mont and makes nice work too of being evidently not bamboozled. This is a family affair, for the ingenue, the • actress's daughter, is in fact played by Catherine Allegret, Madame Signoret's daughter by tier former husband, director Yves Allegret.

Catherine manages at the same time to look very like her mother and to have features in the still fashionable Bardot mould. She makes perfectly natural the presence of several young admirers, one of whom would appear to be the young man sought by the police.

All these familiar elements and playthings are kept in the air with expert juggling by director Costa Gavras for the grand finale. a brilliant French set piece of a police car chase through the streets of Paris (at a rush hour) and culminating in one or two of the cars taking steps in their tracks like tanks. Not an important French thriller but a very enjoyable one.

Freda Bruce Lockhart




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