Bait (1954)

Bait (1954)

“Gold isn’t money — it’s a religion!”

A crazed prospector (Hugo Haas) uses his beautiful new wife (Cleo Moore) as “bait” in order to lure his partner (John Agar) into a compromising situation.

Genres, Themes, Actors, and Directors:

  • Gold Seekers
  • Greed
  • Hugo Haas Films
  • John Agar Films
  • Love Triangle

Czechoslovakian emigre Hugo Haas made a string of low-budget melodramas in the 1950s, usually telling tales of lust, greed, and romantic entanglements. Although Haas’s films are often cited as campily bad, they’re actually decent entertainment — here, Haas takes a traditional love triangle and turns it on his head, with the older husband (Haas) of sexy Cleo Moore encouraging her to get it on with Agar, who (surprisingly) resists as much as possible. Indeed, although we expect Moore to be a no-good femme fatale, it turns out she’s a “decent” woman simply hoping to do the right thing for herself and her baby. Unfortunately, Moore — who starred in no less than seven of Haas’s films in the 1950s — is a rather bland romantic lead and can’t hold a candle to sassy Beverly Michaels, star of Haas’s first American film, Pickup (1951); John Agar is equally insipid as her would-be lover. Haas is the most charismatic character by far, and it’s hard not to root for him despite his nefarious plans.

Redeeming Qualities and Moments:

  • An effective low-budget tale tale of greed and lust

Must See?
No, but it’s recommended for fans of Hugo Haas. It’s listed as a Camp Classic in the back of Peary’s book, but I don’t think it’s all that campy.


One thought on “Bait (1954)

  1. First – and most likely last – viewing.

    Not that films by Hugs Haas are really ‘must see’ movies, anyway (well, outside of ‘Lizzie’, from what I can tell) – but this is one of his weakest. The ‘looking for lost gold’ story is not all that compelling, and Agar and Moore’s performances are rather listless and uninteresting.

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