If this premarital minuet is ever released on cassette, it won’t have the grace of the version now available only on disc. The movie was made for super- wide screens, so only the letterboxed format used here can bring out the absurd pageantry of the harem arranged by piggish New York agent Frank Sinatra. Looking spindly in a cavernous apartment set, Sinatra skitters around like the world’s suavest insect between his favorite ”girls,” chiefly a wisecracking violinist (Celeste Holm) and a ”cast-iron” actress he can’t seduce (Debbie Reynolds).
There’s not much repeat value in The Tender Trap, but hold that remote control to comparison-play Sinatra’s two renditions of the title tune. Keying an overture version to the word ”tender” and another, mid-film, to ”trap,” Sinatra coaxes disgust and longing from breezy couplets, finding genuine pain behind the archaic, marriage-obsessed social scene that the rest of the movie plays for laughs.