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A theatre group has rented a beach house for some rehearsals and a
little bit of vacationing - but it looks as if it's going to be anything
but a few peaceful days, because Marcia (Anne Nagel), the leading lady, is
a scheming bitch - and also the show's impresario Cole King (Howard
Negley) girlfriend -, and she soon blackmails one of the other girls, Lois
(Jan Bryant), into stealing her a box full of compromising letters for
blackmailing purposes. Then though, Lois is found dead, strangled, and the
box has gone missing. And Marcia has disappeared ... and evetnually, she
will turn up dead.
Master detective Charlie Chan (Sidney Toler) arrives
on the scene, and he's quick to figure out everyone's secrets even without
the box of letters, and finds out that the box of letters actually is at
the center of the case, but what he lacks is a smoking gun and an actual
murder suspect, not helped by the fact that everyone's mighty secretive
once it comes to his or her own dirty secrets, and everybody is a bit too
quick to accuse everyone else.
Eventually, the box of letters is found,
but it isn't much help because it contains pretty much everybody's dirty
secrets, making everybody as much a suspect as before. So with the help of
a Chinese chowgirl (Barbara Jean Wong), Chan puts up a trap, and the
killer falls for it, too, but is somehow chased away by Chan's Number Two
Son (Victor Sen Yung) and his driver (Mantan Moreland), so everything
culminates in a carchase which ends in the killer having a horrible
accident. The killer turns out to be the show's wardrobe mistress (Lois
Austin), who was once the imrpesario's lover, but now he didn't recognize
her anymore, but she didn't want anyone to find out her true identity
because ... I have to admit I have no idea.
The Trap is
pretty much your typical late entry into a whodunnit-series: Not too much
effort is put into either screenplay or direction anymore, and it's
tightly budgeted even though it didn't demand too big a budget to begin
with, but since the lead characters are likeable and the supporting cast
is competent, and because while the plot might lack originality, it at
least flows along nicley, you might find yourself liking this film.