Pitfall (1948 film)

Pitfall (1948 film)

name = Pitfall

image_size =
caption = Theatrical Poster
director = André De Toth
producer = Samuel Bischoff
writer = Story: Jay Dratler
Screenplay: Karl Kamb André De Toth William Bowers
starring = Dick Powell,
Lizabeth Scott,
Jane Wyatt
music =
cinematography = Harry J. Wild
editing = Walter Thompson
distributor = United Artists
released = August 24 1948 (U.S.A.)
runtime = 86 minutes
country = United States
language = English
amg_id = 1:38247
imdb_id = 0040695|

"Pitfall" is a black-and-white 1948 film noir drama directed by André De Toth. The film was based on a novel of the same name by Jay Dratler. The drama features Dick Powell, Lizabeth Scott, Jane Wyatt, and Raymond Burr. [imdb title|id=0040695|title=Pitfall.]


This "noir," set in Los Angeles, tells the story of John Forbes (Powell), a bored man working for an insurance company. The middle-class married man craves excitement in his day-to-day life. He gets his wish when he begins investigating an embezzlement case and meets model Mona Stevens (Scott).

Forbes is tasked with getting hold of some expensive gifts given to a girlfriend by an embezzler who's serving time in prison. Insurance agent Forbes ends up spending the day on a boat with the sultry blonde, appropriately named "Tempest," and a romance begins brewing.

Forbes, attracted to the blonde, fudges the reports so he won't have to take the boat away from her. The couple finds themselves being stalked and threatened by a jealous, and suspicious, ex-cop (Burr). As the ex-police officer's sadistic obsession grows, and the day of the dangerous prisoner release from prison approaches, Mona fears for her safety and John longs for the days before he got involved in all this trouble. Things finally go too far when he turns to murder.


* Dick Powell as John Forbes
* Lizabeth Scott as Mona Stevens
* Jane Wyatt as Sue Forbes
* Raymond Burr as MacDonald
* John Litel as District Attorney
* Byron Barr as Bill Smiley
* Jimmy Hunt as Tommy Forbes
* Ann Doran as Maggie
* Selmer Jackson as Ed Brawley
* Margaret Wells as Terry
* Dick Wessel as Desk Sergeant

Critical reaction

Film critic Fernando F. Croce wrote about the screenplay and direction, "The title's abyss, pitilessly moral, sprawls horizontally rather than vertically, a lateral track following disheveled Dick Powell bottoming out, wandering the streets after confessing murder and adultery to wife Jane Wyatt. Fate may be at play, yet André de Toth's grip is less determinist than humanist, airtight but wounded, each pawn in the grid allowed trenchant space to deepen the fallout of their own actions." [ [http://www.cinepassion.org/Reviews/p/Pitfall.html Croce, Fernando F] . ""Cinepassion," film review, 2008. Last accessed: February 24 2008.]

Film critic Dennis Schwartz wrote of the film, "Powell is the archetypal average American man living out the American Dream in the suburbs, where his type is viewed as the backbone of the country. This film does a good job of poking holes at that dream, showing underneath the surface all is not well. The wayward husband has fallen from his perch of bourgeois respectability in the eyes of his wife, and the materialism needed to maintain such a middle-class lifestyle is shown to be just as superfluous in attaining love as the gifts Smiley tried to bribe his girlfriend with to get her to love him. There was also one scene where Tommy had a nightmare and Powell glibly explains this away because he read a comic book with an alien story before going to sleep. But the nightmare indicates more than that, as it indicates there is something troubling even the youngsters brought up in this so-called ideal materialistic environment." [ [http://www.sover.net/~ozus/pitfall.htm Schwartz, dennis] . "Ozus' World Movie Reviews," film review, January 26 2001. Last accessed: February 24, 2008.]


External links

* [http://noiroftheweek.blogspot.com/2007/03/pitfall-1948.html "Pitfall"] at Film Noir of the Week.
* [http://www.sensesofcinema.com/contents/03/25/de_toth_interview.html André De Toth] interview at "Senses of Cinema" by Alain Silver (discusses "Pitfall").

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