Pitfall (1948)





Critic Consensus: No consensus yet.

Movie Info

The darker side of the American dream is explored in the fascinating film noir Pitfall. Dick Powell stars as John Forbes, a successful insurance man with a trophy wife named Sue (Jane Wyatt) and a model child named Tommy (Jimmy Hunt). Despite all that he's achieved in life, Forbes feels somehow unfulfilled. During an attempt to recollect illegally purchased goods by a convicted bank robber, Forbes falls for his glamorous client Mona Stevens (Lizabeth Scott). When she "comes on" to him, it sparks an affair between them. Forbes suffers the pangs of guilt, a fact immediately capitalized upon by the seedy private eye MacDonald (Raymond Burr), who is upset because Mona has rejected him. If adultery has been committed, can murder be far behind? Many individual scenes in Pitfall are standouts, notably a brief moment wherein Forbes' son Tommy suffers a horrible nightmare -- in almost exactly the same manner that child actor Jimmy Hunt would endure a similar bad dream in 1953's Invaders from Mars.
Drama , Mystery & Suspense
Directed By:
Written By:
In Theaters:
American Pop Classics


Dick Powell
as John Forbes
Lizabeth Scott
as Mona Stevens
Raymond Burr
as J.B. MacDonald
Jane Wyatt
as Sue Forbes
John Litel
as District Attorney
Gig Young
as Bill Smiley
Jimmy Hunt
as Tommy Forbes
Selmar Jackson
as Ed Brawley
Ann Doran
as Maggie
Selmer Jackson
as Ed Brawley
Dick Wessel
as Desk Sergeant
Byron Barr
as Bill Smiley
Show More Cast

Critic Reviews for Pitfall

All Critics (4)

De Toth's sensitive handing of Pitfall stalls out somewhere along the way.

Full Review… | July 27, 2012

One of the really great films about infidelity

June 10, 2005

A slight melodramatic story, but an efficiently made moral tale with noir overtures.

Full Review… | December 31, 1999
Ozus' World Movie Reviews

Quote not available.

June 30, 2005

Audience Reviews for Pitfall


Fairly good drama about the perils of infidelity. A bored, middle class, married man with a child falls for a jailed crook's girlfriend. Things get more complicated when the woman is stalked by another suitor who tries to frame her into dating him. Performances by the three leads are all excellent,Dick Powell as the adulterer, Lizabeth Scott as the femme fatale and Raymond Burr as the scorned man. Film's conclusion suffers from a didactic conclusion, no doubt influenced by the censor board at the time. Recommended for noir fans.

Aldo Gandia
Aldo Gandia

Super Reviewer

awesome noir with 1 of my fave gals of noir, lizabeth scott how this differs from most noirs as it is set in suburbia not some big city or other urban setting.

Greg Wood
Greg Wood

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.

Rick Rudge
Rick Rudge

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