The Tender Trap

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.

The Tender Trap
  • Movie