Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Pitfall (1948)

Dir: Andre De Toth
SIFF Theater

The first film shown this year at the Noir City Film Fest and the first of four that featured the writing of Bill Bowers, the revelation of the experience for me. While Bowers' name wasn't credited on every film or it was a shared credit, there was no mistaking his witty, rapid dialog. Not only was it some of the most memorable writing I have seen in a long time, it just wasn't clever for it's own sake, all the dialog was character specific. The story of Pitfall follows an insurance man (played by Dick Powell who also produced in a successful attempt to change his image) that is bored with his routine. He meets Lizabeth Scott's Mona Stevens and is smitten. He decides to break the rules of his job and also withholds some key information from her, like that he's married to Sue (Jane Wyatt) and has a son. To complicate matters even further, Raymond Burr plays a private eye that is obsessed with Mona and is a violent goon with a sadistic streak. What set this apart from alot of others in the genre, was the fact that Lizabeth Scotts' character would normally be portrayed as the femme fatale that gets Dick Powell into all kinds of trouble, but here it is the opposite. Once Mona Stevens finds out Powell's insurance man is married, she immediately ends the relationship, it is Powell's bad decisions that forces the action. If I had any complaints, it's that De Toth tells the story almost exclusively in medium close-ups and a lot of the conversations look like a tennis match of back and forth editing.
The print looked great and the whole presentation was excellent with Eddie Muller introducing the movie with tons of great info.


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