Synopsis

Another in the long line of the Trials-and-Tribulations (compounded by Misery and Irony) offerings from Hugo Haas. This time out his character, Marko (Hugo Haas, is searching for a lost gold mine with his young partner Ray Brighton ('John Agar' )qv)) and, despite the fact that Haas appears no more at home playing a prospector than Raymond Hatton would playing a Bulgarian diplomat, they find the mine. But Marko decides he doesn't want to share with his partner and figures out a devious and complicated scheme to get rid of him. (Shooting him in the head and burying him in the desert is far too simple a solution in a Haas film.) So, Marko ups and marries buxom young Peggy (Cleo Moore) as a marriage of convenience, even though past experience would indicate any involvement with a character played by Cleo Moore would not be described as anything close to convenience. Rikor figures that after the three of them spend the winter together in a shack far from civilization, he will sooner or ...

Cast

Hugo Haas
as Marco
John Agar
as Ray Brighton
Jan Englund
as Waitress

Movie Reviews

Reviewed by HarlowMGM 6 /10

"The Door's Open - Come on In!"

The movie BAIT is remembered, if for anything, for Cleo Moore's "kissing" incident while on a promo tour for the film. While being interviewed on live television in Chicago, the host quizzed Cleo about movie kisses and the subject somehow got around to how short they usually are. The host (no fool he!!) then suggested to Cleo that they go for a record smooch over live television to which the always publicity savvy La Moore agreed and they enjoyed a fairly chaste smooch that ran for several minutes and made national headlines. Too bad the film Cleo was promoting was not as interesting. BAIT is definitely not one of the better Cleo Moore/Hugo Haas collaborations and undoubtedly quite a few fans of the blonde sex-bomb will not be pleased to see she spends quite a bit of the film with her hair up and wearing jeans and a non-tucked in flannel shirt, not exactly pinup glamour. The movie does have it's moments though, notably the intriguing introduction by Sir Cedric Hardwicke.

Cleo stars as a cashier in a little dump of a mom-and-pop store, despised because she is an apparently unwed mother. Nasty old gold prospector Hugo Haas looks on her as trash but his partner John Agar is clearly attracted to the luckless blonde. When the men actually discover gold, greedy Haas tries to think of a way to have it all for himself and decides to marry Cleo, certain that in their secluded corner of the world Agar won't be able to resist Cleo's sex appeal, thus allowing Haas to shoot and kill him and get away with it via "the unwritten law".

The best thing about the film is the natural chemistry between Cleo Moore and John Agar. Hugo Haas makes a much better villain than sympathetic leading man so he's well cast and gives a good performance although his direction is generally uninspired. This one used to play on late shows in the 1980's fairly often but is somewhat elusive in recent years, hopefully Sony will be releasing it in their custom line of "made to order" titles following their recent success of the boxed set of "bad girls" mostly starring Cleo Moore.

Reviewed by secragt 3 /10

Hugo Haas At His Worst

Renowned for frequently casting himself as aging innocents seduced and destroyed by conniving younger women, Haas slightly alters the formula here by casting himself as the aging schemer who uses a young tart as "bait" for his gold mining pardner in a decidedly convoluted scheme. Part TREASURE OF THE SIERRA MADRE, part romantic tragicomedy, and all cheese, BAIT has to be one of the weaker neo noir films in the canon.

Without delving too deeply, the nonsensical plot implodes early and often under the weight of illogical motivations, misguided interactions and a trio of miscast leads. Haas' unlikely sham quickie marriage to a girl his partner likes is the first in a series of unintentionally uproarious plot mis-steps. Does Haas really think he can manipulate his much younger, stronger partner into an affair, justifying Haas' shooting of him? Isn't it more likely his questionable partner will kill Haas and claim the girl (or take the girl and Haas' gold?) More to the point, by marrying the girl, isn't Haas adding another partner with a stake in the gold when his sole goal is to possess the gold all by himself?

The wacky ensuing close quarters love triangle interactions are painful to watch. Particularly poor is John Agar, who has a nice head of hair, but no discernible acting ability. Cleo Moore's one note performance matches the plot silliness (agreeing to marry a man and go live in a shack in the wilderness in the dead of winter for no other reason than to give her daughter a daddy (a man who hates her.) That Haas' acting is competent is high praise indeed for this film.

Suffice to say that from here things don't improve. Cheap set pieces (the cabin and wilderness are obviously a studio soundstage), weak dialogue and bad pacing all conspire to make this a colossal bore. Also, this isn't one of those "so bad that it's good" movies. Do yourself a favor and check out Haas' much better written, acted and produced PICKUP, which features a dynamite femme fatale and a much more coherent plot.

Reviewed by horn-5 N/A

Hugo and Cleo

Another in the long line of the Trials-and-Tribulations (compounded by Misery and Irony) offerings from Hugo Haas. This time out his character, Marko, is searching for a lost gold mine with his young partner Ray Brighton and, despite the fact that Haas appears no more at home playing a prospector than Raymond Hatton would playing a Bulgarian diplomat, they find the mine. But Marko decides he doesn't want to share with his partner and figures out a devious and complicated scheme to get rid of him. (Shooting him in the head and burying him in the desert is far too simple a solution in a Haas film.) So, Marko ups and marries buxom young Peggy as a marriage of convenience, even though past experience would indicate any involvement with a character played by Cleo Moore would not be described as anything close to convenience. Rikor figures that after the three of them spend the winter together in a shack far from civilization, he will sooner or later catch them in adultery, and he can use the "unwritten law" to kill Brighton and thus escape punishment from the law. But "Murphy's Law" rears its ugly head.

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