The Deadly Trap

The Deadly Trap (French: La Maison sous les arbres) is a 1971 French suspense drama film directed by René Clément. It was screened at the 1971 Cannes Film Festival, but was not entered into the main competition.[1]

The Deadly Trap
French-language poster for The Deadly Trap
Directed byRené Clément
Produced byGeorges Casati
Robert Dorfmann
Bertrand Javal
Written byDaniel Boulanger
Sidney Buchman
René Clément
Ring Lardner, Jr. (uncredited)
Based onThe Children are Gone by Arthur Cavanaugh
StarringFaye Dunaway
Frank Langella
Music byGilbert Bécaud
CinematographyGeorges Pastier
Andréas Winding
Edited byFrançoise Javet
Release date
  • 9 June 1971 (1971-06-09)
Running time
96 minutes


Jill and her husband Philip are an American couple living in Paris together with their two small children. Philip is currently an office worker, but he used to be involved with some shady organization which now wants him to do one more job for them. Meanwhile, Jill and Philip are having marital problems, which are exacerbated by Jill’s mental instability—she has memory lapses and paranoid suspicions of Philip being unfaithful. The couple also has a neighbor, Cynthia, who shows an unusual interest in their affairs. One day, when Jill is out for a walk with the children, they go missing. The couple contacts the police but Inspector Chameille, who leads the investigation, is unsure whether the children were actually kidnapped or harmed by their erratic mother.



The film received mixed reviews upon release. Vincent Canby in The New York Times called it an "arbitrarily muddled" suspense melodrama where "nothing works", and that it "means to demonstrate...the limits of human patience."[2] Time Out praised "Clément's nice Hitchcockian-flavoured style and deft use of menacingly 'ordinary' locations" but said that "the ending has an impact similar to the punchline of a shaggy dog story."[3]


  1. "Festival de Cannes: The Deadly Trap". Retrieved 13 April 2009.
  2. Canby, Vincent (26 October 1972). "Screen: Clement's 'The Deadly Trap'". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2 September 2019.
  3. "The Deadly Trap | Film review". Time Out London. Retrieved 2 September 2019.
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