Pitfall is one of those rare movies that’s both of its time and timeless. Dick Powell plays Johnny Forbes an insurance investigator. He’s having a mid-life crisis. He complains to his wife, played by Jane Wyatt about how stale their lives are. He’s restless and ready for a change. He gets it.
Powell is assigned to investigate Mona Stevens played by Lizbeth Scott. Her boyfriend went to jail for stealing fancy items in an effort to buy her love. Powell doesn’t make the initial contact. Instead, he dispatches sleazy private eye JB MacDonald played by Raymond Burr in full noir villain mode. The rest of the movie revolves around this weird triangle with Burr making everyone’s life miserable. Perry Mason and Robert Ironside weep.
That’s enough plot summary. I don’t want to spoil it for those of you who haven’t seen the movie.
Pitfall is an excellent follow-up to last week’s PFT, Nora Prentiss, because Mona Stevens is NOT a femme fatale until the movie takes a turn to tragedy in the last reel. She’s a woman who finds herself in the middle of a mess caused by men, especially her shamus stalker.
This picture captures the creepy feel of the film.
Pitfall is based on this novel by Jay Dratler:
Pitfall was directed by veteran director Andre de Toth and shot by Harry Wild whose cinematography captured the creepy claustrophobia of the story.
Grading Time: I give Pitfall 3 1/2 stars and an Adrastos Grade of B+ What’s not to love about a film noir with Dick Powell and Raymond Burr?
It’s time to get all arty and shit.
We begin with the 3 sheet aka long poster:
Pitfall is a movie with many taglines as you can see from the quad posters:
What time is it? It’s time to second line to the refreshment stand:
Now that we’ve scored some Sno-Caps, let’s check out the lobby cards:
I don’t always mention character names in this feature, but I dig the name Mona. Every time Lizbeth Scott comes onscreen in Pitfall, I get this earworm:
Now that we’ve rocked with Bo Diddley, it’s trailer time.
The last word goes to Eddie Muller with his Noir Alley commentary on this fine film noir: