Staging and Performance in Sidney Lumet's "Deathtrap"

Bettinson, Gary (2021) Staging and Performance in Sidney Lumet's "Deathtrap". Projections: The Journal for Movies and Mind, 15 (2): 2. pp. 30-55. ISSN 1934-9688

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This article provides a stylistic examination of Sidney Lumet’s thriller Deathtrap (1982), analyzing how its strategies of staging and performance generate narrational effects of suspense and surprise. It argues that Lumet anchors these performative strategies to a broad authorial program grounded in expressive subtlety; as such, Lumet’s film reminds us of a waning tradition of US filmmaking in which stylistic ingenuity resides at the denotative and expressive (rather than the decorative or parametric) levels of stylistic discourse. The article treats Lumet’s stylistic choices as creative solutions to a distinctive set of aesthetic problems. It canvasses—and identifies the functions of—the motivic staging schemas patterned throughout Deathtrap; and it illuminates how these schemas, actuated by star players, shape the viewer’s cognitive uptake in substantive ways.

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Journal Article
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Projections: The Journal for Movies and Mind
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19 Jul 2021 13:25
Last Modified:
28 Jun 2024 01:57