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This 1955 movie has Frank Sinatra as Charlie Reader, a successful New York Agent, with plenty of money, and several women who he dates.  He enjoys his life and has no intention of settling down…then he signs up a young actress named Julie Gillis (Debbie Reynolds) and takes an interest in her.  However, Julie has only one thing on her mind – and that’s marriage.  She won’t take Charlie on his own casual terms, but he doesn’t want anything serious…so will they work things out…?

First let me point out something about this film – I’ve seen it billed as a musical, and it definitely isn’t.  Sinatra does sing the intro to the movie, in a simple but beautiful scene, and the same song (The Tender Trap) is sung a couple more times throughout the movie – but that’s it.  This film should really be billed as a romantic comedy, because that is what it is.

It’s a pleasant enough, but slightly bland.  Debbie Reynolds’ character is supposed to be cute, but is really quite annoying (however in mitigation, while her obsession with getting married and having children was a bit irritating, it probably was a more-or-less realistic reflection of attitudes at the time it was set).  Reynolds herself is sweet looking and certainly able to play adorable (remember her role as Kathy Selden in Singin’ In The Rain), but I don’t think the script here did her character any favours.

Sinatra has more comedic lines, and is more charismatic in his role, despite the fact that he’s actually playing a heel, who has little respect for women.  Nonetheless, he plays the character with charm and gets the viewer on side quite quickly.

David Wayne provided fine support in the role of Joe McCall, an old friend of Charlie’s who has been happily married for years, but is now facing problems in his domestic life.  Initially he is envious of Charlie’s lifestyle, but he grows to see the superficiality of such a life.  However, for me the most interesting character was that of Sylvia Crewes, who was brilliantly played by Celeste Holm.  Sylvia is an attractive, intelligent, funny and very talented (she is a classical violinist), but fears that at the age of 33, she is going to left on the shelf (remember, this was made in the 1950s).  Despite her many great qualities, she is willing to settle for second best, rather than remain single – a rather sad note in the film.

The ending is pleasant enough, if a bit predictable, and overall this an enjoyable movie, but not a memorable one.

Year of release: 1955

Director: Charles Walters

Writers: Max Shulman (play), Robert Paul Smith (play), Julius J. Epstein

Main cast: Frank Sinatra, Debbie Reynolds, Celeste Holm, David Wayne

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