The Steel Trap (1952)

84-85 mins | Drama | November 1952

Director:

Andrew L. Stone

Writer:

Andrew L. Stone

Producer:

Bert Friedlob

Cinematographer:

Ernest Laszlo

Editor:

Otto Ludwig

Production Company:

Thor Productions, Inc.
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HISTORY

The working title of this film was Panic Stricken . Although the Copyright Catalog lists the film's copyright date as 31 Oct 1953, it is likely that the actual copyright date was 31 Oct 1952 as the film's registration number fits within the range of other films copyrighted in Oct 1952. HR news items and production charts include Pamela Duncan, Michael Ross, Norman Budd, Barbara Horgan and Elaine Riley in the cast, but their appearance in the released picture has not been confirmed. According to a Nov 1952 AmCin article, "almost 98 percent of [the picture] was filmed away from the studio, in actual locales." Los Angeles locations included the interior of the International Airport, the Markham Building, the Alexandria Hotel and the downtown office of TWA. New Orleans locations included the famed Antoine's restaurant and the airport. The article states that the only studio set used was for the hotel sequence in which "Laurie" discovers that "Jim" is a thief. HR news items add that Motion Picture Center, the headquarters for Bert E. Friedlob's Thor Productions, was used for the studio shooting.
       Although a 1 Jul 1952 HR news item stated that the film's world premiere would be held at Antoine's in Sep or Oct, a 17 Oct 1952 HR news item announced that the premiere would be held in Pittsburgh on 31 Oct. The exact date of the premiere and its location have not been determined. Joseph Cotten and Teresa Wright reprised their roles for a Lux Radio Theatre presentation of the story on 14 Sep 1953, ... More Less

The working title of this film was Panic Stricken . Although the Copyright Catalog lists the film's copyright date as 31 Oct 1953, it is likely that the actual copyright date was 31 Oct 1952 as the film's registration number fits within the range of other films copyrighted in Oct 1952. HR news items and production charts include Pamela Duncan, Michael Ross, Norman Budd, Barbara Horgan and Elaine Riley in the cast, but their appearance in the released picture has not been confirmed. According to a Nov 1952 AmCin article, "almost 98 percent of [the picture] was filmed away from the studio, in actual locales." Los Angeles locations included the interior of the International Airport, the Markham Building, the Alexandria Hotel and the downtown office of TWA. New Orleans locations included the famed Antoine's restaurant and the airport. The article states that the only studio set used was for the hotel sequence in which "Laurie" discovers that "Jim" is a thief. HR news items add that Motion Picture Center, the headquarters for Bert E. Friedlob's Thor Productions, was used for the studio shooting.
       Although a 1 Jul 1952 HR news item stated that the film's world premiere would be held at Antoine's in Sep or Oct, a 17 Oct 1952 HR news item announced that the premiere would be held in Pittsburgh on 31 Oct. The exact date of the premiere and its location have not been determined. Joseph Cotten and Teresa Wright reprised their roles for a Lux Radio Theatre presentation of the story on 14 Sep 1953, and on 22 Mar 1956, Howard Duff and Margo Lee starred in the Lux Video Theatre 's production of the story. More Less

SOURCE CITATIONS
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
American Cinematographer
1 Oct 52
p. 428.
American Cinematographer
Nov 52
pp. 478-79, 496-98.
Box Office
25 Oct 1952.
---
Daily Variety
20 Oct 52
p. 3.
Film Daily
28 Oct 52
p. 7.
Hollywood Reporter
17 Apr 52
p. 8.
Hollywood Reporter
23 Apr 52
p. 2.
Hollywood Reporter
25 Apr 52
p. 9.
Hollywood Reporter
28 Apr 52
p. 4.
Hollywood Reporter
30 Apr 52
p. 7.
Hollywood Reporter
9 May 52
p. 3.
Hollywood Reporter
16 May 52
p. 3.
Hollywood Reporter
29 May 52
p. 12.
Hollywood Reporter
1 Jul 52
p. 7.
Hollywood Reporter
17 Oct 52
p. 2.
Hollywood Reporter
20 Oct 52
p. 4.
Los Angeles Times
19 Nov 1952.
---
Motion Picture Herald Product Digest
25 Oct 52
p. 1582.
New York Times
12 Nov 52
p. 33.
New York Times
13 Nov 52
p. 35.
Newsweek
1 Dec 1952.
---
Variety
22 Oct 52
p. 6.
CAST
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
PRODUCTION COMPANY
PRODUCTION TEXT
A Bert E. Friedlob Production
DISTRIBUTION COMPANY
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTORS
Asst dir
PRODUCER
WRITER
PHOTOGRAPHY
Dir of photog
FILM EDITOR
Ed supv
COSTUMES
MUSIC
Mus comp and dir
SOUND
Sd eng
MAKEUP
Makeup supv
Hairstylist
PRODUCTION MISC
Prod supv
Asst to prod
Scr supv
Casting dir
SOURCES
SONGS
"So Much to Me," music by Dimitri Tiomkin, lyrics by Stan Jones, sung by Helen Humes.
PERFORMER
DETAILS
Alternate Title:
Panic Stricken
Release Date:
November 1952
Premiere Information:
New York opening: 12 November 1952
Los Angeles opening: 18 November 1952
Production Date:
26 April--late May 1952
Copyright Claimant:
Twentieth Century-Fox Film Corp.
Copyright Date:
31 October 1953
Copyright Number:
LP2258
Physical Properties:
Sound
Western Electric Recording
Black and White
Duration(in mins):
84-85
Length(in reels):
9
Country:
United States
Language:
English
PCA No:
16042
Passed by NBR:
Yes
SYNOPSIS

James Osborne, an assistant manager at a Los Angeles bank, is bored by his staid life and wonders what it would be like to rob the bank. Jim calculates that on a Friday evening, after the Federal Reserve makes its deposit, he could steal almost a million dollars without the theft being discovered until Monday morning. Curious if there is a country that does not have an extradition treaty with the United States, Jim researches various statutes and learns that Brazil would offer a safe haven. Now obsessed with the idea, Jim lies to his devoted wife Laurie that the bank is sending him on a two-week business trip to Rio de Janeiro, and that he wants her and their daughter Susan to accompany them. Laurie is thrilled, although she protests that Susan is too young for the journey. Figuring that they can send for Susan once they get settled, Jim begins to put his plan into action. The next morning, he and Susan apply for expedited passports, and Jim visits a travel agent, who tells him that the only possible route is a Friday night flight to New Orleans, with a connecting flight to Rio on Saturday morning. Although the flight to New Orleans is full, two cancellations come through and Jim secures their seats. Jim is dismayed to learn that Laurie has told her mother, who is to care for Susan, where they are going, but quickly masks his fears. On Friday morning, Jim arrives at the bank with a large suitcase, which he hides, and confirms that the passport clerk is going to send the Osbornes' passports ... +


James Osborne, an assistant manager at a Los Angeles bank, is bored by his staid life and wonders what it would be like to rob the bank. Jim calculates that on a Friday evening, after the Federal Reserve makes its deposit, he could steal almost a million dollars without the theft being discovered until Monday morning. Curious if there is a country that does not have an extradition treaty with the United States, Jim researches various statutes and learns that Brazil would offer a safe haven. Now obsessed with the idea, Jim lies to his devoted wife Laurie that the bank is sending him on a two-week business trip to Rio de Janeiro, and that he wants her and their daughter Susan to accompany them. Laurie is thrilled, although she protests that Susan is too young for the journey. Figuring that they can send for Susan once they get settled, Jim begins to put his plan into action. The next morning, he and Susan apply for expedited passports, and Jim visits a travel agent, who tells him that the only possible route is a Friday night flight to New Orleans, with a connecting flight to Rio on Saturday morning. Although the flight to New Orleans is full, two cancellations come through and Jim secures their seats. Jim is dismayed to learn that Laurie has told her mother, who is to care for Susan, where they are going, but quickly masks his fears. On Friday morning, Jim arrives at the bank with a large suitcase, which he hides, and confirms that the passport clerk is going to send the Osbornes' passports to the Brazilian consulate, where Laurie will pick them up with the necessary visas. After the bank closes and the tellers deposit their cash in the vault, Jim sneaks downstairs and fills his suitcase with money. Laurie telephones to tell Jim that she cannot reach the consulate in time, and Jim then calls to ask one of the clerks to stay late so that he can retrieve their passports. Jim and the bank manager, Tom Bowers, then close the vault, although Jim only pretends to spin the combination lock, hoping to return to steal more money before leaving. Jim then races to the Brazilian consulate but is delayed by traffic, and by the time he reaches the office, everyone has left. Jim asks an elevator operator for help, and while the man attempts to locate the Brazilian consul, Jim meets Laurie in the building's coffee shop and obtains seats on a later flight to New Orleans. When it appears that he is running out of time, Jim breaks into the consulate office and finds the passports. A watchman apprehends him, however, and is about to take him to the police when the elevator operator arrives with the clerk to whom Jim had spoken earlier. The clerk reluctantly vouches for Jim, and soon he and Laurie are speeding toward the airport. When the plane stops over in Amarillo, bad weather grounds them until they are in danger of missing their connecting flight. Upon their arrival in New Orleans on Saturday morning, Jim and Laurie learn that they have indeed missed the plane to Brazil, but the clerk, Briggs, assures them that because they are fourth on the waiting list for Sunday's flight, it is likely they will make it. Although Jim is overcome with worry, he is determined to treat Laurie to a grand day in New Orleans, and the couple sightsee and dine at Antoine's that night. Travel agent Valcourt, who has heard of Jim's desperation to acquire tickets for Sunday's flight, arranges for him and Laurie to be placed first on the list, and late that night, Jim hints to Laurie that their stay in Brazil may be permanent. The next morning, Jim's demeanor and heavy suitcase rouse Briggs's suspicions and he alerts customs officials, who open the suitcase to see if Jim is smuggling gold. When questioned, Jim states that he is ferrying the money on an emergency mission for the bank, although the inspector insists on calling Bowers to verify Jim's story. Bowers is away playing golf, however, and the inspector allows the Osbornes to leave when their flight is called. Unfortunately, there have been no cancellations, and Jim and Laurie are turned away. Briggs promises them seats on Monday's flight, and Jim and Laurie then check into a small hotel. Suspicious of Jim's erratic behavior, Laurie questions him and finally deduces that he stole the money. Jim admits his crime, telling her that he wanted to cram as much happiness as possible into their lives. Laurie tearfully chastises her husband and states that she could never be happy living under false pretenses, then leaves to return to Los Angeles. Meanwhile, back in Los Angeles, Jim's co-worker, Ken Woodley, learns from Susan where Jim and Laurie have gone, and he tries to contact Bowers, who is still playing golf. Laurie arrives home in time to deflect Ken's suspicions, while in New Orleans, Jim wanders through the streets, contemplating a bleak future without his family. Early Monday morning, Jim calls Laurie to tell her that he is going to return home and try to replace the money before the bank opens. Jim arrives just in time, and collapses with relief after successfully returning the money. As he then takes his usual route home, Jim realizes how lucky he is and gratefully embraces Laurie. +

Legend
Viewed by AFI
Partially Viewed
Offscreen Credit
Name Occurs Before Title
AFI Life Achievement Award

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The American Film Institute is grateful to Sir Paul Getty KBE and the Sir Paul Getty KBE Estate for their dedication to the art of the moving image and their support for the AFI Catalog of Feature Films and without whose support AFI would not have been able to achieve this historical landmark in this epic scholarly endeavor.