Synopsis: To make Sidney's slump all the more painful, Clifford Anderson, a student of one of Sidney's writing seminars, has recently sent his mentor a copy of his first attempt at playwrighting for Sidney's review and advice. The play, "Deathtrap," is a five character, two act thriller so perfect in its construction that, as Sidney says, "A gifted director couldn't even hurt it." Using his penchant for plot, and out of his desperate desire to once again be the toast of Broadway, Sidney, along with Myra, cook up an almost unthinkable scheme: They'll lure the would-be playwright to the Bruhl home, kill him, and market the sure-fire script as Sidney's own. But shortly after Clifford arrives, it's clear that things are not what they seem! Indeed, even Helga Ten Dorp, a nosey psychic from next door, and Porter Milgram, Sidney's observant attorney, can only speculate where the line between truth and deception lies.
Genre: Comedy, Crime, Mystery
Director(s): Sidney Lumet
Production: Warner Bros. Pictures
  6 nominations.
Rotten Tomatoes:
116 min

[Hushed voices

in the background]



Cooperative as ever,


Woman, whispering: it's

the worst play i've ever seen.

Man, whispering:

i can't believe

Sidney bruhl wrote it.

Good evening,

mr. Bruhl.

How'd it go?

Man on tv:

you want to be alone.

[Audience laughing

and applauding]

Man on tv:

the lines are trouble.

But you don't

have to look your best.

[Audience laughing]


[Telephone rings]


Ohh. Sidney?


Oh, darling,

i've been so anxious!

How's it going?

What do you mean

it's a disaster?

Oh, sidney, you always

think that on opening night.

Of course

it's not a disaster.

They're laughing,

aren't they?


Are they laughing?



They're not laughing

at all?


My god. Who could

ever have believed

It would

end this way?




Well, bruhl,

you want to know who?

I'll tell you who.

My lawyer,

My accountant,

My proctologist,

Even my goddamn wife.

Yeah, she told me,

she said, "you produce

"Another crock by

that putz sidney,

You deserve

to go broke."

Even my goddamn wife!

She should know, seymour.

It's her money.


Listen, pal,

you and me

Been in this business

a long time, right?

Long enough to know it ain't

your opening night crowd

That hands down

the verdict.

So just relax, kid.

Count your loot,

And drink

your orange blossom.

Thanks, burt.

The critics are gonna

love you, mr. Bruhl.

You got my promise, ok?

Here we go.

[Turns on tv]

our drama critic,

stewart klein.

Sidney bruhl's new play,

Which opened tonight

at the music box,

Is billed

as a comedy-Thriller.

So much for truth

in advertising.

[Tv knob clicking]

Well, theater lovers,

there is bad news tonight.

Bad sets, bad costumes,

bad direction, bad actors,

And from playwright

sidney bruhl,

A spectacularly

bad play.

Well, sidney bruhl's

new whodunit murder most fair

Opened tonight

at the music box.

But there's no point

in you folks going there,

'Cause i'm gonna tell you

who done it.

Sidney bruhl done it.

And what's inexcusable

is he done it in public.

Well, they weren't

real raves, sidney,

But they certainly

weren't what i call bad.

I'm doing the only

sensible thing!

I'm getting pissed!

And i'll see you

in easthampton in the morning.



that'll be $52.



Every time i come in

this bloody house,

You scream!

I have just been to

the worst opening night

Of my bloody life--

And that is

no small boast--

I was called a putz

by seymour starger,

And i had to come back home

on the bloody train!

Why didn't you take

a limousine?

Because i can no longer

afford a bloody limousine!

Of course you can. I can,

and everything i have is yours.

Don't you understand?!

I want to pay for my own

bloody limousines!

Myra, i have had 4 bombs

in a row!

And you know, they deserved

to bomb, because they stank!

Murder most fair

was total sh*t!

Because i'm written out.


I can no longer cut it,

my darling.

Do you know what happened

to me tonight?

I passed out

in the train,

And i came to in

the terminus at montauk!

End of the line!

Bloody symbolic.

My christ...

This has been some kind

of walpurghisnacht.

Oh, darling.


Darling, i won't let you

do this to yourself.

Darling, listen to me.

Darling, you're a wonderful,

wonderful writer!

You are just going through

a streak of bad luck!

And! And to add bloody

insult to injury,

This came to the theater

tonight. Tonight!

What, darling? What?

This is what.

A thriller in 2 acts.

One set, 5 characters.

A juicy murder in act one,

terror in act two.

An ironic and

astonishing resolution,

Good dialogue, laughs

in all the right places,

Very, very commercial,

and easy to cast!

Ha ha ha ha ha!

Darling, what's funny?

What's funny?

I'll tell you

what's bloody funny!

It was written by some

ignorant, infant a**hole

In the seminar i gave

last year at college,

Name of...

Clifford anderson.

Oh, li-Listen to this.

Listen to this.

Uh, blah blah blah,

"...Without your guidance

and inspiration..."

Uh, blah blah blah,


it is only fitting

"That you should be

the first person to read it.

"If you find it..."

Blah blah blah,

"...Your own great work, i'll

consider my time well spent,

"And the fee

for the seminar

More than adequately


Oh, my darling, that's

very nice. Touching.


"P.S. Please excuse

the carbon copy.

"The local xerox machine

is on the fritz,

"And i couldn't stand

the thought

"Of waiting a few days

to send my firstborn child

Off to its spiritual



Would 'ems wike

to frow up?


Little son of a b*tch

even types well.

[Breathing heavily]

Wait a minute.

Not so little.

I think

i remember him.


Yes, i do

remember him.

He was the glandular case

that sat in the front

And never took his piggy

little eyes off me.

Darling, is it

really that good?

Is--Is it really

that good?

It couldn't be,

could it?

I mean, a first attempt

by a total amateur?

I'll tell you

how good that is.

Even a gifted director

couldn't hurt it.


Darling, this is just--

Do you realize this is

the first opening night ever

That i couldn't be with you?

Darling, i felt so bad.


i was so anxious.

I know, darling.

I should have given

more thought

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Jay Presson Allen

Jay Presson Allen (March 3, 1922 – May 1, 2006) was an American screenwriter, playwright, stage director, television producer and novelist. Known for her withering wit and sometimes-off-color wisecracks, she was one of the few women making a living as a screenwriter at a time when women were a rarity in the profession. "You write to please yourself," she said, "The only office where there's no superior is the office of the scribe." more…

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Submitted on August 05, 2018

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    "Deathtrap" STANDS4 LLC, 2024. Web. 30 May 2024. <>.

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