The Tender Trap (1955)




Critic Consensus: No consensus yet.

Movie Info

Max Shulman and Robert Paul Smith's Broadway hit The Tender Trap is transformed into a beguiling Frank Sinatra film vehicle. Sinatra plays a Manhattan showbiz agent, Charlie Y. Reader, who enjoys the attentions of several willing young ladies. At an audition, Charlie meets aspiring actress Julie Gillis (Debbie Reynolds), who is so determined to land a husband that she's already set the date. She goes out with Charlie for a short while, then announces that she won't marry him until he gives up … More

Rating: Unrated
Genre: Romance, Musical & Performing Arts, Classics, Comedy
Directed By:
Written By: Julius J. Epstein
In Theaters:
On DVD: May 13, 2008


as Julie Gillis

as Charlie Y. Reader

as Joe McCall

as Sylvia Crewes

as Jessica Collins

as Poppy Matson

as Sam Sayers

as Sol Z. Steiner

as Mr. Loughran

as Director

as Ballet Actor

as Audition Dancer

as Eddie

as Mr. Wilson

as Stage Manager

as TV Announcer

as Society Reporter

as Elevator Boy

as Doorman

as Cab Driver

as Cab Driver
Show More Cast

News & Interviews for The Tender Trap

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Critic Reviews for The Tender Trap

All Critics (10) | Top Critics (3)

Full Review… | March 26, 2009
Top Critic

Full Review… | May 20, 2003
New York Times
Top Critic

Full Review… | January 1, 2000
Chicago Reader
Top Critic

A disappointing dated and flat romantic comedy from the 1950s.

Full Review… | May 15, 2008
Ozus' World Movie Reviews

...makes a convenient time capsule for the fifties, and at its best it's an amusing romp.

Full Review… | May 13, 2008
Movie Metropolis

Would-be-hip look at a swinging single in NYC

February 11, 2005
Film Journal International

Audience Reviews for The Tender Trap

So incredibly terrible, and Debbie Reynolds knew it. Julie, her na´ve husband-chaser of a character, was and perhaps is a reality and a trope, but does she have to be so devoid of personality otherwise? What is love, and why does Charlie even fall in love with her? There's no charm to their dated courtship at all, and it's a waste of Debbie's singing and dancing talents.

The bouquet passing bit at the end is cute, and the movie makes interesting enough insights into Martian and Venusian conflicts with Charlie's reforming rover, Joe's disillusioned family man, and Sylvia's career dame with a ticking marriage clock (played by the serene Celeste Holm), but the injection of a petty, needy, indecisive stereotype just sets gender politics back fifty years...not to mention screenwriting.

Alice Shen

Super Reviewer

Pleasant but unspectacular comedy, Celeste Holm and David Wayne are wonderful and Sinatra is fine but Debbie's character is annoying and someone who anyone with any sense would run away from quickly.

jay nixon

Super Reviewer

If nothing else, the film should be seen for its iconic first two minutes, where, from out of a blue-sky backdrop, swaggers Sinatra - draped in sharkskin, tipped fedora and Cinemascope - hands in pockets, staking his claim on Cahn/VanHeusen's title tune.

Here, Frank's signature style is on full on show and at its best.

'The tender trap' is, of course, love and marriage. And Frank's been meticulously sidestepping it in favor of his harem-like, 24/7-swingin', ring-a-ding-dingin' Manhattan bachelor pad - until stubborn, altar-focused Debbie Reynolds turns up toting small-town naivete and expectations that Frank cough up a ring and his little black book.

Sinatra and married wingman (Wayne) role-swap: Frank's got Debbie under his skin, Wayne's a-wooin' Frank's pick-of-the-litter (Holm). Holm's of sharp wit/word; she knows the rules of the mid-Century marriage game better than them all.

Throw in a few trivial subplots and soon enough, there's an engagement, a marriage or a break-up every sixty seconds. When the game of musical chairs ends, love has conquered all.

From a long-running Broadway play. Not quite the Doris Day sex-comedy, but clearly foreshadows & inspires them: Debbie's the lone 'good girl' in the dugout, Wayne's the foil that is Frank's conscience, positions later held by Tony Randall and Gig Young.

Snappy/witty dialogue abounds - "How much money you makin?" "Almost as much as I'm spending." - "I've seen you somewhere before." "It's just this face of mine, it's what every girl is wearing this season." Plus there's dramatic sprinkles on the cone in the form of (well-dated) volleys on topics such as marriage versus career, girlie versus wife, playboy versus husband. In this film, such sprinkles are often the better part of the cone.

RECOMMENDATION: Captures well the time. Well recommended for those who appreciate the period/genre.

TonyPolito Polito

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