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  • A real surprise and a delight, that is, if you enjoy the Cinderella stories of the 1920s. I always do, so long as they are nicely played, and THE LOVE TRAP has enough distinction to recommend it very highly. Charming and entertaining as a fluid silent, there are many marvelous visual touches, particularly the choreography involving synchronized taxi cabs. Unexpectedly, THE LOVE TRAP retains this graceful pace when the picture begins talking at about the half-way point. The second half is so engaging one really does forget that the first half was such a terrific silent picture. Star Laura La Plante is her wonderful, pert, pretty self, effortlessly carrying the silent style with a seemless transition into the heroine speaking the rest of her role. Of particular note and enjoyment is the handsome leading man, the future Commissioner Gordon on TV's BATMAN, Neil Hamilton. Though called upon to behave like a first rate schmoo at one point during the plot, Hamilton is a first rate smooth comedian, both silent and talking. For being a relatively innocuous "Cinderella" tale, THE LOVE TRAP packs in some fun little moments of sexual intrigue, such as when the snootie sister, Rita La Roy, tells the family she cannot be bothered with La Plante's sordid situation, and as the family leaves, she climbs the stairs, soon followed by a slyly winking butler.
  • Pleasant concoction is a story as old as the hills of a family of snobs thinking the true blue girl their son marries on a whim is a no good gold-digger until proved wrong. A bit of an odd viewing experience since half way through the film it switches from silent to sound but Wyler's sure handed direction keeps it from being too jarring. It is interesting how in the silent portion the tone is set by shadows and the mood of a scene but after the dialog becomes the agent of explanation. It must have been a disconcerting balancing act for the actors involved but they handle it pretty well. Laura La Plante is enjoyable in the lead, a big star in silents who did make a successful transition to sound but moved to England shortly after this made a few films there and retired.
  • The Love Trap is one of a many "part-talkies" that were produced during the transition period between the silent and sound eras. As sound was still relatively expensive and still excitingly new, the talkie segment in these features was usually a gimmick for the final scenes, not necessarily adding or taking away anything from the picture, but helping to draw the crowds. Today these pictures provide us with a chance to see directly the contrast between the final days of silent cinema and the first faltering steps of the talkies.

    The director here is William Wyler, shooting one of his earliest full-length features. Wyler would later have the distinction of directing more Oscar-nominated acting performances than anyone else (thirty-three), a record still held by him today. In particular, he had a reputation for coaxing fine performances from actors who never showed talent anywhere else. Laura La Plante was not an especially distinguished actress, yet here she is first class. Perhaps the most crucial thing a director can do to help their cast, other than good coaching, is simply giving them time and space to act, and this is precisely what Wyler does for La Plante. In the opening scenes, when she is fired from the chorus line and flees to her dressing room, she is held for a few moments in mid-shot, forcing the audience to focus on her emoting. The scene in which she is kicked out on the street along with all her furniture could easily have been played for laughs, but again the camera concentrates on La Plante, and her expression is painfully real.

    This generous manner of filming the leading lady, and the commendable performance it captures, have a wider impact on the picture as a whole. Firstly, it helps bring out the story visually by subtly yet convincingly bringing out the character's thoughts and feelings – something which is complimented by the relatively low frequency of intertitles. Furthermore, Wyler avoids the trap of many male directors when shooting a story where a woman is the protagonist, which is to focus too much on the lead man, and show us his point of view rather than hers. Instead he makes it absolutely clear that this is her story, not Neil Hamilton's. Finally, by making the emotions of the main character appear real, and forcing the audience to take notice of them, he elevates The Love Trap above the simple romcom that it is on paper. It's just a shame there isn't quite enough substance to the screenplay for this to pay off.

    The talkie section of The Love Trap begins, ironically, with several seconds of silence as Hamilton confronts his family. This adds dramatic weight to the moment, and gives more impact to the dialogue when it begins. The power of silent moments had, again ironically, never been realised in the silent era as pictures had a continual musical backing. The sound scenes here still retain the flow, style and strong performances of the rest of the picture, and do not stand out as being awkward, as early talkies often were.

    By their very nature, the part-talkies were usually potboilers, since by now all the more prestigious picture would be all-talking. However, thanks in no small part to Wyler's sensitive direction, The Love Trap is well above the average. Laura La Plante's career would begin to peter out soon after, and Neil Hamilton wound up as a supporting player in numerous TV series, but here they are both excellent. Wyler himself would go on to win three Academy Awards, and direct some of the greatest stars of Hollywood's golden age in the greatest performances of their career.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    Along with "Directed by William Wyler," was this rare half silent, half talkie starring Laura La Plante and Neil Hamilton. I liked Laura from "The Cat and the Canary" and "Showboat," and she proved that she could be a good little comedienne in this one.

    The first part, and the best in my opinion, is silent. The constraints of early sound made the second half stiff and contrived. The voices were out of sync in places. Laura is a wide-eyed little chorus girl who improbably meets wealthy and handsome Neil as she has been thrown out of her room with all her belongings, and is sitting on the curb. Of course it begins to rain! His taxi passes by, splashes her with muddy water, and he falls for her right then and there. Now that happens every day! But in these fluffy little movies, it did in fact happen every day! It was all in good fun! Laura had a very expressive face that was made for silents, and she's proved her "acting chops" in the three movies that I've seen her in. Neil Hamilton was quite attractive, and had good chemistry with her.

    During the second and sound half, Paul's (Hamilton's) uncle recognizes Evelyn (La Plante) from a wild party, and tries to sabotage their marriage. She sets a trap for him to vindicate herself with Paul, and show the uncle's hypocrisy. He had been at the party, a place that he shouldn't have been, but because he's an aristocrat and she's just a poor little chorus girl, he feels she isn't good enough for his nephew. Plus he's misconstrued an incident that happened at the party.

    Sound like a familiar scenario? Of course there's the typical happy ending. But I enjoyed the first half of the movie where all the real acting takes place, and it was interesting to see this early Wyler effort. But I can only give it a 6 out of 10. They should have included a better Wyler endeavor in this package.
  • The Love Trap (1929)

    I wouldn't have troubled with this film except that it's by the most decorated and honored of Hollywood's directors, William Wyler. And the short answer on the film is that it's very good, worth watching.

    It surprised me by being silent. Twice. That is, it begins with some scenes that involve music and there is a soundtrack synched to the movie--but not recorded when the visuals were shot. So the dialog is all silent with an occasional intertitle card. The reason for this is just that Universal Studios hadn't yet switched to doing sound. This was released in 1929, and "The Jazz Singer" was 1927, so this shows how it took some time for the smaller studios to switch over.

    Further--like "The Jazz Singer" this one has a few sections with actual synched sound. It comes as a huge surprise, and it raises the movie to another level in its entirety. You can almost apply their voices by extension to the rest of the movie.

    Even so, it's a sophisticated film--including the sound that is used, both music and some sound effects. The filming is excellent, but what really stands out is the superb acting--which of course is what Wyler would in part become famous for. The story is a simple one but a pre-code risqué one. A woman who needs money to pay her rent goes to a rich man's party to make a few bucks. And she's expected, somehow, to be available to one of the men, who tricks her, in all her innocence, to a bedroom.

    So then it becomes a tale of morality versus money. And told almost entirely with gesture and expression. And filmed beautifully, with some absolute surprising turns in the plot. The last thirty seconds will seem a little convenient, but the rest of it--a real treat!
  • Most of the movie is silent, with titles; just music on the sound track; and an acting style typical of later silents. At the climax, the actors start talking, though the sound track is mostly silent otherwise.

    The story is pleasant, but has been retold several times, so it will seem familiar if you've seen many 1930's pictures. Acting, sets and costumes are OK.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    This is a transitional film--one that is partly silent and partly a talking picture. This was common during the late 20s in the US and all the way up into the early 1930s throughout the world. So, although I have heard "The Jazz Singer" (1927) referred to as the first 'talkie', it only had a few talking and singing portions. A few other such films are "The Mysterious Island" (1929) and "Blackmail" (1929), but the number of such films is significant. Quite often, silent films were held from circulation and a few talking segments were added so that the film could be advertised as a talkie! "The Love Trap" clearly was originally planned as a silent, but instead of one or two talking segments spread throughout the film, it begins silent and about midway through it, the film becomes a talkie.

    For the most part, it's a pretty ordinary film and is probably only on DVD today since it was an early film of the famed director, William Wyler. It is also interesting for two other reasons. First, it is very Pre-Code in its sensibilities--with scenes involving attempted sexual assault, a woman being patted on the butt and a lot of sexual innuendo. Now this is NOT to say it's a dirty film (as the lady is quite innocent) but if the studio had attempted to release the movie following the adoption of a toughened Production Code in 1934, it never would have been allowed without significant editing. Secondly, it stars an actor who was a HUGE star in the 20s up through the mid-1930s who is almost totally forgotten today. Neil Hamilton (known to a few as Commissioner Gorden from the 1960s "Batman" show) was a very handsome and popular leading man and I've seen several dozen of his films--and enjoyed them quite a bit. As for the leading lady, Laura La Plante, she was never that prolific as an actress but had a relatively successful, if undistinguished, career.

    The film begins with Miss La Plante getting tossed out of her job as a chorus girl. She's way behind in her rent and is in danger of being tossed out of her home. So, in desperation, she goes to a party with a friend to try to meet a man, but it turns out to be a wicked party and she snuck away--as she was not that sort of a girl. Then she returns to her flat only to see her belongings sitting out front in the rain. A nice rich guy comes by and sees her predicament and comes to her aid. Oddly (and only in a scene that you'll see in films or with guests from "The Jerry Springer Show"), the pair get married--knowing almost nothing about each other.

    A few days later, after the dust settles, the first problems in their quickie marriage develop. Hamilton's very snobbish family is not amused he married so quickly (very understandable) but they also are angry because she's so 'common'. Hamilton fails his new bride, as he allows his family to mistreat and mistrust her. Through a series of misunderstandings, they convince him that he married a skank--and the marriage appears to be heading for an annulment. La Plante does love her dopey hubby and concocts a rather clever (and funny) plan to win him back and keep his stupid relatives at bay.

    While today this film might seem pretty ordinary, for 1929 it's actually quite good--and manages to still be rather funny. Not a great film, but for a transitional movie, one well worth seeing--especially since it has a rather sweet ending--which old softies will no doubt enjoy.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    Another movie with a poorly conceived, second-string plot, The Love Trap (1929), stars a none too flatteringly photographed Laura La Plante and a quite presentable Neil Hamilton.

    Admittedly, director William Wyler handles the early scenes with a bit of style, but when the scriptwriters throw in the towel and the good-guy hero suddenly acts like a cluck, and the producer starts pulling in the purse strings, director Wyler's lavish staging and agreeable handling take a run-out powder too.

    The movie is available in its full 71-minutes silent version in a good print from Grapevine Video, along with a somewhat crudely animated but occasionally imaginative Fleischer cartoon, Ko-Ko's Reward (1929) in which the on-screen Max has a go at blending live action with animation.

    Be prepared! "The Love Trap" itself is still a must-see movie, even though it is fatally flawed.
  • What a delightful, romantic comedy. THE LOVE TRAP sparkles under William Wyler's direction. Wyler earned fame over his career as a tough director to work for, but one that made actors look good. This is certainly evident in this late silent-part talkie, in the case of Laura La Plante, whom I had only seen previously in THE CAT AND THE CARNARY. She is quite wonderful and her co-star, Neil Hamilton makes a strong romantic lead. I chuckled all the way through this fun film, finding it full of nice little twists to a familiar kind of story. The print on the Kino release is very nice. Also included in the excellent DIRECTED BY WILLIAM WYLER documentary that was co-produced by Wyler's daughter, Catherine.
  • The plot of this deceptively overlooked little trifle is the usual nonsense about a sweet young lass whose path crosses that of one of those personable young millionaires with entirely honourable intentions you find behind every corner in the silents, only to be entirely falsely suspected of being a gold-digging little hussy by his disapproving family. But 'The Love Trap' proves fascinating historically both as a relic of the "part-talkie" era and for its adroit staging by the up-and-coming young William Wyler feeling his way towards his mature style.

    The first two thirds of this fluff has attractive performances in the leads by Laura La Plante and Neil Hamilton, while Wyler is already visibly attempting to find ways of extending the boundaries of the cinema screen through frequent use of pans and attempts at composition in depth. In his talkies Wyler abandoned the pans, which tend to jar at times, but with the great Gregg Toland behind the camera eventually came second only to Orson Welles as the 1940s' master of deep focus composition in 'The Best Years of Our Lives' (1946), which veteran cameraman Gilbert Warrenton had done his best to achieve in 'The Love Trap' with the limited resources then at his disposal.

    Then suddenly everybody starts talking! The early scenes had all carried a Vitaphone soundtrack, and 'The Love Trap' had evidently started life as a silent, since there are scenes in which people speak dialogue which the makers haven't bothered to caption, as they'd presumably decided the film was going to go into release as a part-talkie and thus elected to keep titles to the minimum in scenes where the audience would be able to get the gist without them.

    At this point the film seems on the verge of turning all serious on us, but happily opts instead for saucy pre-Code farce, in which Miss La Plante - mostly dressed only in her scanties - effortlessly and charmingly leaps the daunting hurdle of suddenly starring in a talkie.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    To my surprise, I really liked this film. From the title, I thought it'd be mundane, even dull, but it really wasn't! The whole cast was great. This movie is a part talkie and, like I guess in most part-talkies, the talking part hits you all of a sudden. Also, it strikes me a bit odd when Neil Hamilton enters the home he grew up in and calls the butler "Butler", but, other than that I really don't have any complaints. Laura LaPlante stars as a chorus girl who really isn't up to snuff, so she's fired and a "friend" (I'm not sure she's that much of a friend due to her actions) invites her to a party where women are basically professional escorts. She gets hit on pretty heavily by a couple of men (one you'll see later) and ends up in the rain in the street with her possessions. That when she meets Neil Hamilton, who is riding in a cab and comes to her rescue. He comes from "money". They get married and Mom and Sis come to meet her. The impression is less-than-stellar when it's discovered that Laura had been a chorus girl. It's not even that good when one of the men who hit on her (Neil Hamilton's uncle, played by the ill-fated Norman Trevor) discover her. The uncle thinks she's a not-very-nice girl morally. (Of course, he's a fine one to talk!) Neil invites Mom, Sis and Unc over to dinner. They don't show up. Neil calls to find out why and is informed by their butler that his mother is sick. Laura knows what's really going on, but Neil chastises her for her attitude and goes to see his sick mother. Laura is feeling a little sad and her "friend" calls. Laura asks her to come see her. The "friend", who is at a party, gets the bright idea to bring the whole aggregation over to see her. (With friends like that...) Neil finds out rather quickly that his mother was lying. He convinces her and her uncle to come see his wife, who he assumes is there alone. This is after the uncle gives his opinion and gets slapped in the face! They get there and there's all these people. That doesn't set well with any of them. The uncle advised Neil to take his mother home and decides to bribe Laura out of marrying his nephew. Laura, however, manages to trick the uncle and get Neil back on her side. I'll let you see how.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    I just viewed this early William Wyler directed comedy-drama and discovered that leading lady Laura La Plante (Evelyn) co-starred in 2 silent/talkies in 1929. The other was the first sound version of SHOWBOAT as Magnolia. I'd really like to know why the first 43 minutes or so is silent (with a continuous, distracting musical soundtrack) and the last 25 minutes has dialogue.

    As a result, the performances, for the most part fluid in the silent portions, become rushed and choppy. The storyline follows La Plante as an unemployed chorus girl in New York, who suffers thru a series of misfortunes until fate puts her in the arms of Neil Hamilton (Peter) , who's a rich guy. The tale switches to light comedy, as the two fall in love and marry...then it's back to melodrama as Hamilton's stuffy mom and uncle (Norman Trevor) feel the young man has married beneath his station. The title could be both from his family's assumption the poor girl 'trapped' Peter (Hamilton) into marriage or how she sets a trap for his uncle to free her of a secret they share.

    At no time a masterpiece...Hamilton's performance is generally fine; La Plante is too cutesy and Wyler's direction shows a brief flash of brilliance to come...note: how we learn the butler and Peter's younger sister Mary (a too brief appearance by a beautiful Rita La Roy) are indeed an item. But, at 69 minutes...it's not a waste for the curious.