The Money Trap

The Money Trap
Directed by Burt Kennedy
Produced by David Karr
Max E. Youngstein
Written by Lionel White (novel)
Walter Bernstein
Starring Glenn Ford
Elke Sommer
Rita Hayworth
Joseph Cotten
Cinematography Paul Vogel
Distributed by Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer (MGM)
Release dates
  • 1965 (1965)
Running time
91 mins.

The Money Trap is a 1965 drama film directed by Burt Kennedy, written by Walter Bernstein based on the novel of the same name by Lionel White, and starring Glenn Ford, Elke Sommer and Rita Hayworth.[1] The supporting cast features Ricardo Montalban, Joseph Cotten and James Mitchum.


Joe Baron (Glenn Ford) is an under-appreciated, under paid cop who lives a life of luxury because of his very wealthy, beautiful and much younger wife, Lisa Baron (Elke Sommer), and the stock that her father left behind. Unfortunately for the happy couple, when their stock's dividends stop coming in, Joe finds himself in some serious need of cash to continue his life style. To further heighten Joe's concerns, Lisa intimates she is unwilling to lower her standard of living.

Soon after Joe realizes he has a cash flow problem, he and his partner Pete Delanos (Ricardo Montalban) are ordered to perform a routine investigation whereby a rich and well connected doctor, Horace Van Tilden (Joseph Cotten) has shot an intruder, Phil Kenny, in his home. When the duo visit the crime scene, they find an opened wall safe and the intruder laying on the floor, but still breathing. Joe rides in the ambulance and during the trip to the hospital, Kenny reveals that he was after two bags of cash containing $500,000. He also gives Joe a piece of paper with the combination of the safe on it, after which, Kenny expires. Joe decides to keep this to himself and continues his own personal research on the case to find more information.

During his intense search for more clues about the bags of cash and the intruder, Joe visits Phil Kenny's Wife, Rosalie Kenny (Rita Hayworth), who is now working in a bar as a waitress. When Joe sees Kenny's wife he realizes that she is none other than his former friend and lover from the old neighborhood. They have a brief and awkward conversation, ending with Rosalie asking Joe to leave her alone. Joe leaves the bar, not knowing that his partner, Pete, has followed him there.

Later that night, when Joe arrives home he finds Lisa and one of his neighbors having a drink. Lisa explains the neighbor is there because he wants to meet with Joe. It turns out the neighbor wants Joe to fix a traffic ticket. Believing instead, that his neighbor was there to make a move on Lisa, Joe orders his neighbor to leave. Lisa and Joe argue. Joe storms out of his house and ends up meeting up with Rosalie. By now, Rosalie's mood has softened. They reminisce about their past relationship and it becomes clear that Rosalie still has feelings for Joe. Joe's intentions are clear - he wants Rosalie to divulge how much she knew regarding Kenny's plan to rob Van Tilden. Rosalie claims she knew very little. Suddenly, Rosalie hears a sound from the street below and she appears alarmed and frightened. Joe calms her down, but realizes that she could be in danger if Van Tilden suspects she knows too much. That night Joe and Rosalie make love. In the morning as Joe is about to leave, Rosalie tells him that the Doctor has a business dealing in drugs and that Kenny was an employee and an addict who was looking for a way to get some more drugs. She validates Kenny's claim that he was after $500,000. Joe gives Rosalie some money and tells her to leave town. That morning, Joe returns home and Lisa apologizes for the night before.

Later, in the police gymnasium as Joe and Pete work out, Pete reveals to Joe that he knows Joe is up to something and that he "wants in". Joe reluctantly agrees and shares with Pete his idea to go after Van Tilden's ill-gotten loot. They both work together and organize a plan to steal the bags of cash.

To their surprise, Van Tilden requests to see them. When they meet with Van Tilden he inquires if they know the whereabouts of Phil Kenny's widow. Van Tilden explains he wants to give her money. Joe feigns ignorance. Before the meeting ends, Van Tilden matter-of-factly mentions he will in Acapulco for the week, leaving that day. Joe is very suspicious of Van Tilden, but decides to move forward with the planned heist. That night Joe receives a late night call from Rosalie. She has not left town and is calling from the bar where she works. She leaves the bar and walks back to her apartment, not realizing she is being followed by Van Tilden's henchman, Matthews. When Rosalie enters her apartment, she pours herself a drink and then walks up to the rooftop of her apartment to view the skyline and contemplate her lot in life. Later, Joe and Pete are ordered to a potential crime scene - a woman has fallen or been pushed from a rooftop. The arrive to find Rosalie, sprawled on the ground. They are informed by another police officer that the finger marks on the ledge indicate she was pushed. Pete tells Joe that they should call off the heist because Rosalie most likely told her killer what she had told Joe. Joe refuses, believing that Rosalie wouldn't say anything. The next day, Pete checks to make sure that Van Tilden has left for Acapulco.

That night, Joe and Pete enter Van Tilden's house where they encounter and knock unconscious, Matthews. They drill the safe and use nitroglycerin to blow open the safe door. As Pete and Joe are grabbing the bags of loot, Van Tilden and Matthews surprise them. A gunfight ensues and Pete is shot. Joe is able to incapacitate both Van Tilden and Matthews and help Pete to the car for a quick getaway. Joe drives Pete to his house where he is forced to tell Lisa what happened. As Pete lies on the bed, he asks to see the money which is when they discover that one of the bags contains heroin. Joe realizes that Pete's gunshot wound is life-threatening and decides to offer Van Tilden the bag of drugs in exchange for medical attention for Pete. Van Tilden arrives at Joe's house, alone, per Joe's demand. Unbeknownst to Joe, Mattews has followed Van Tilden. During his treatment, Pete accuses Joe of selling him out. He grabs the money and attempts to leave, but the strain is too much and he succumbs to his wound. As Joe's part of the bargain, he now must deliver the drugs to the Van Tilden. He and Van Tilden leave in Van Tilden's car, closely followed by Matthews. They arrive at a closed drugstore and Joe instructs Van Tilden to wait in the car while he retrieves the bag of heroin. Joe knocks on the door and an elderly gentlemen opens the door. Joe asks for the bag he left earlier. It's clear the drugstore is in Joe's old neighborhood and the drugstore owner has known Joe since he was a young man. As the drugstore owner is about to hand Joe the bag, Matthews and Van Tilden enter with drawn guns. Van Tilden orders Matthews to kill both Joe and the drugstore owner as he leaves with the heroin. Joe draws his gun and shots are exchanged. Matthews is killed by Joe. As Joe steps outside, he sees Van Tilden driving off in his limousine. Joe fires several shots hitting Van Tilden and causing his car to crash into a nearby storefront. As Van Tilden stumbles from the car, he and Joe exchange gunfire, hitting each other. Joe grabs his stomach and fires one final round into the prone Van Tilden.

Injured, Joe makes his way back home in Van Tilden's battered limousine. When Lisa attempts to call an ambulance, Joe orders her to call the police, instead. He then turns on the lights to his rear yard, illuminating his spacious swimming pool and well maintained patio. As sirens are heard in the background, Joe leans against the wall and awaits his fate in the arms of his wife. [2]


The 1965 film The Money Trap portrays elements of the classic film making style known as noir. The black and white film uses the theme of a simple man (Joe Baron) drawn into crime and corruption for materialistic needs.

The Money Trap was one of the last noir films made after the style had first erupted in the 1940s. Not only does the main plot showcase a common noir film theme but the subplot that exists in the movie portrays a theme that proves The Money Trap to qualify as a noir film.

The subplot starts off with Joe Baron and his partner heading to the crime scene of a woman being hung by her husband for participating in sexual relationships for money (Prostitution). They later show that she has a daughter that her husband loved very much. On the day of their daughter’s birthday the girl’s father chooses to meet up and spend the day with her. At the end of the day Joe Baron arrests the man whilst the young girl is left to question about the actions that took place on her birthday. This small yet crucial storyline displays the theme of the happiness in a filmic perspective being never lasting.

Another example of the noir film technique being implemented is in the last scene where injured Joe Baron (Glenn Ford) turns all the lights on and looks over his large garden, swimming pool and beautiful house symbolizing all the materialistic objects that he chose to act unethically for.[3]


See also


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