The Rabbit Trap (1959) – A Review


A review of the 1959 drama The Rabbit Trap starring Ernest Borgnine, Bethel Leslie, Kevin Corcoran and Don Rickles

Ernest Borgnine The Rabbit Trap 1959 drama

Eddie Colt (Ernest Borgnine) has been working himself non-stop. His hope is after constantly working long hours and running whenever his workaholic boss calls he’ll finally get a much deserved promotion. He feels he’s more than earned it.

Eddie is currently on a long overdue vacation in the country with his wife Abby (Bethel Leslie) and son Duncan (Kevin Corcoran). He and Duncan set up a rabbit trap in the woods and it finally looks like Eddie will get some quality time to spend with his neglected family. That is until, once again, Eddie’s boss interrupts his vacation and demands he return back to work.

Eddie begrudgingly complies. His wife is unhappy and his son is now very worried. The rabbit trap he and his father set up in the woods is still there. He becomes haunted with what will happen to a rabbit if it gets caught in it and no one is there to free him? Duncan begs his father to take him back to the trap, but Eddie refuses.

It’s that rabbit trap, Duncan’s concerns and the lengths he’s willing to go to save a potentially trapped rabbit that gets Eddie to rethink his priorities and what’s truly important in his life.

Rabbit Trap 1959 family drama Ernest BorgnineThis was a small charming movie. I wasn’t at all familiar with it going in and was surprised at how enjoyable I found it.

It’s a story about the guilt Eddie feels and the neglect his son deals with from his absent father. It’s equal parts a tale of both a son and father and their relationship between each other. The film is only a little more than an hour, but the moral is conveyed quite effectively in its short runtime with some fine performances by the cast.

It’s hard not to think about Borgnine’s performance from Marty while watching this. Here, he’s playing another average joe guy learning a valuable lesson in life. He was just as good at playing smaller, quiet characters as he was as more loud, bombastic, villainous ones. He was a real talent.

The sentimentality in the film worked on me. I didn’t feel like it was overdone or that it got to the annoying, sappy degree it could have easily reached. The metaphor of what this rabbit trap represents is effective without being so blatantly symbolic it’s eyerolling. It almost plays like a little fable kids would read in school.

There is a bit of a simplistic view to the whole perspective of the story. I mean, one of the things you must do to take care of a family is to have a job. You have to provide for them, and unfortunately it’s not always an easy task, but you should also not lose sight of where life’s real values lie.

Rabbit Trap 1959 Ernest Borgnine Kevin Corcoran movieThere’s nothing truly outstanding about the production of it. If someone told me this was a made-for-TV production I would easily have believed it. It has a very straight forward, rudimentary look to it that I could envision it being a special Sunday night movie that was broadcast by one of the television networks back in the day or even it being an episode of an anthology television drama.

Perhaps this story didn’t need any polished telling to make it work. It’s not a ‘Must See’, but it is a sweet little movie, that you’ll enjoy if you stumble onto it. It was nice to see Borgnine playing another decent working class guy. Also there’s a young Don Rickles who pops up as one of his neighbors. That was interesting to see.

Someone posted the movie on Youtube. I’ve only stumbled onto it only that one time during an airing on TCM. As I said, it’s not something I think you have to go out and rush to see, so this is an easy way to check it out if you have an hour to spare and are curious.


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