The Tender Trap Reviews
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.
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.