Some Of What's Good About The 50's Being Past
The Tender Trap (1955) Puts a Leash On Frank
Swinging bachelor Frank Sinatra brought to heel by conscience-figure David Wayne and marriage-minded Debbie Reynolds. Anyone pushing notion of the 50's as most repressed of decades should use this for power point, The Tender Trap a glossary of what we like least about a vanished era. It's another of those where a free spirit gets his fun for a first act and part of the second, then pays dearly for what footage remains, sympathy reserved entirely for those who'd marry and embrace a status quo. It was as though the population was endangered and everyone had to contribute share of offspring. Celeste Holm speaks piece to effect that a woman unwed at age 33 is doomed thereafter to losers, drunks, and husbands prowling. Was she right then, and still so now?
Comedy stands still as policy statements are issued, most by party pooping David Wayne as Frank's supposed friend who does more harm than good. Sinatra has numerous girls on the string, but it's not suggested they stay overnight, the Code still an anchor as of 1955. Debbie Reynolds is pushy to a point where Frank would be better off ducking her, but plot dictates they'll unite for the fade, not an entirely happy one even though tendered as such. Based on a play, true to its confinement, with near-whole of action set in Sinatra digs, and that gets monotonous. The Tender Trap is like a Moon Is Blue that theatres wouldn't have to worry about playing, being about as sanitary a sex comedy as was possible to 50's-make. Best takeaway is the title song, a standard since and for good reason, but it's the only tune Sinatra or anyone sings during The Tender Trap, which might actually have worked better as a musical.