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Pitfall Reviews

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May 19, 2014
Pitfall (1948)

I'm a big fan of the non-musical Dick Powell movies. But Pitfall isn't one of my favorites, but maybe you'll like it. This one is those typical film noirs where the protagonist is caught in a trap (usually of his own making). This one features a very young Raymond Burr (from Perry Mason) and Jane Wyatt (from Father Knows Best).

John Forbes (Powell) is a bored suburbanite. He feels that he's in a rut, despite being an insurance adjuster/investigator in Los Angeles, and married to a very hot wife, Sue (Wyatt). Then one of his private detectives, MacDonald (Burr) brings a report about a model, Mona Stevens (Lizabeth Scott) who is the fiancée of the guy, Bill Smiley (Byron Barr) who stole from the insurance company and is doing time in jail.

Mac isn't hiding the fact that he has the hots for Mona and that he's very serious about her. John tells him to pursue her on his own time. John heads over to Mona's apartment to collect any money or gifts that Smiley may have given her. Mona doesn't take to John's taking her valuables, including her engagement ring.

Mona gives John hell for his callousness and John takes it to heart. Even tries, to let her keep her beloved speed boat, until Mac turns this item in also. There is even a "Fade to Black" moment between John and Mona.

Mac is obsessed with Mona, stalking both of them as well as egging on poor Smiley from jail. Things will come to a head with all of them.
August 25, 2014
Burr truly menacing, a stalker before stalker movies. Liz Scott very sympathetic ---not the Stanwick femme fatale.
September 25, 2013
I would have given this film at least 4 1/2 stars if it weren't for all of the technical flaws. The screenplay wasn't bad and the acting was good. There was some great chemistry between Lizabeth Scott and Dick Powell. Really, though, I have to say that Raymond Burr made this a movie worth watching. He was excellent in the sinister role of McDonald; he was perfect as the creepy stalker. I think this obscure gem is worth your time if you can overlook the subpar mise en cine, the mediocre cinematography, and the poor special fx.
January 14, 2012
I've always enjoyed Dick Powell and he's pretty great as a bored-with-routine insurance salesman churning out the sarcasm. However, he makes some bad decisions in this domestic noir and risking his marriage for Lizabeth Scott is the primary one. Although he regrets it, this is noir and so he must pay the price and gets entangled with a pretty nasty character in the form of Raymond Burr (note that I didn't say "heavy" when I could have). Powell does look raked over the coals by the end and I wouldn't exactly call it happy. On the low budget side, in the noir scheme of things.
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