Man Bait

1952 book store thriller

Rating: 12/20

Plot: A frequently tardy book store employee makes a date with a guy trying to shoplift a book. On their first date, they come up with a half-assed plan to blackmail her boss. It doesn't work out so well.

First off, here's an example of a movie with not only a misleading poster but a misleading title. Man Bait is a great title because it can be about a gorgeous woman who lures men to their doom in a noirish thriller or a tale about a demented fisherman who poisons homeless people to use pieces of their flesh as shark bait. Unfortunately, this is about as exciting as you'd expect from a movie that takes place almost entirely inside a dusty used book store. The first scene is actually a bunch of employees, far too many employees for this book store, arriving and getting ready to work. I spent the first ten minutes of the movie trying to figure out who the main characters were going to be. And those leads--the boss, the girl, the new boyfriend--are such boring characters that I actually began to long for more scenes of the others working in the book store. The blackmail scheme is not only uninspired and dull, but it's completely far-fetched. Trying to get money from the manager of a small book store that has way too many employees? It doesn't make sense, and the way things conveniently fall into place (actually, out of place would be more accurate since it's a blackmail scheme gone awry) is forced and silly. These people just aren't acting like people are supposed to act. Things pick up a bit after a key death, and there are a few nearly suspenseful moments in the final third of the movie, but by then, it's not salvageable.

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