Released 5/09/22 by Universal/Jewel; Director: Robert Thornby; Screenplay: George C. Hull, from a story by Lon Chaney, Irving Thalberg, and Lucian Hubbard; Cinematography: Virgil Miller; 6 reels (5,481'); Print Source: See notes below
CAST: Lon Chaney (Gaspard), Alan Hale (Benson), Dagmar Godowsky (Thalie), Stanley Goethals (The Boy), Irene Rich (The Teacher), Spottiswoode Aitken (The Factor), Herbert Standing (The Priest), Frank Campeau (Police Sergeant)
SYNOPSIS: Gaspard is a kindly French-Canadian trapper who is in love with Thalie, a local girl. Benson, a crooked adventurer, comes into town and steals Thalie away from Gaspard and, through legal trickery, steals his mine claim as well. Seven years pass before Gaspard is able to obtain his revenge. Thalie dies, but leaves behind a small child, Benson's son. Benson takes up drinking when his mine is ruined by a landslide, and Gaspard goads him into a fight with Pierre, the town bully. Pierre is killed, and Gaspard testifies against Benson, sending him to prison. Gaspard takes in the man's son and sends him to the local school. Through the influence of the kindly schoolteacher and the boy himself, Gaspard comes to regret his treachery and soon loves the boy as his own son. When Benson is released from prison, Gaspard fears that he will take the boy away with him, so he plans a trap with a fierce wolf locked in a cabin Benson will enter. The plan backfires when the boy wanders into the cabin, Gaspard rushes in to rescue the boy and wrestles the wolf into submission. Gaspard realizes he cannot keep the boy from his real father, and sends the two off to a new life together.
"Too much star in closeups every few feet makes this feature a very draggy affair...The picture gives Chaney a chance to hog footage right along in close-ups. This becomes rather tiresome, as all the emoting he does not carry the story forward at all." ---Variety
"Without the masterful performance by Lon Chaney, THE TRAP would hardly be able to lift itself out of the slough of triteness." ---Moving Picture World
"A fair offering, but not what is to be expected from a Jewel. Mr. Chaney does some great acting, however." "An excellent picture of French-Canadian life. The scenery is great. Only fault the picture has, if any, is too many lengthy close-ups of Lon Chaney. They overdo Chaney's excellent character work." ---comments of two exhibitors from Oklahoma and Kansas, published in Moving Picture World
NOTES: Seen today, THE TRAP is a dismal entry in Chaney's career. The dialogue titles are done in a phony French accent (e.g., "An dat leetle papaire tak' w'at was my fathaire's?"), and the overly melodramatic story probably seemed dated even in 1922. Chaney would soon go on to much better productions. This was also his last work for Universal until THE HUNCHBACK OF NOTRE DAME.
THE TRAP was released to the 16mm home collector's market in the 1920's in a very slightly abridged format, and some these prints exist today. No 35mm print of THE TRAP is known to survive.
The film is often referred to under an alternate title, HEART OF A WOLF, but there is no indication that this was ever the working title of the film, or that it was released or rereleased under this title.
Also, check out this lobby card in my Poster Gallery.
© 1997,2008 Jon C. Mirsalis
Return to Filmography