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Pitfall Movie Review

mona forbes toth john

Pitfall is the second of three noir films Andre de Toth directed between 1944 and 1954. Only four years after Murder My Sweet, Dick Powell isn't Philip Marlowe anymore, he's insurance agent John Forbes, Sue's (Jane Wyatt) husband and Tommy's (Jimmy Hunt) father. Forbes once nurtured an adolescent fantasy that his life would be more interesting and more rewarding, but now the years of domestic rituals and insurance claims stretch ahead of him in all their yawning dullness. Forbes and a private investigator named Mack MacDonald (Raymond Burr) are trying to recover goods purchased with robbery loot. They meet model Mona Stevens (Lizabeth Scott), the robber's girlfriend, retrieve the goods, and the credits roll. Whoa, rewind! Well, what do you THINK happens? Frustrated agent and frustrated detective meet gorgeous blonde Mona, they all become pals (Sue and Tommy, too), and the credits roll. NOPE, this is Noirville. If John and Mona have an affair, all hell will break loose and it does. Remember: Mack is frustrated, too. Mona has a boyfriend in jail (Byron Barr as Bill Smiley). Sue doesn't know about Mona, which means she'll HAVE to know about Mona, and life will never be the same. The moral? Don't choke on your adolescent fantasies! We're practically in the 1950s, boys and girls, domestic rituals and insurance claims are GOOD for you, sex with the cool blonde who hates the detective who wants to have sex with the cool blonde instead of you is BAD for you. Again, wife and work: GOOD; affair with Mona: BAD. De Toth shows how the crushing weight of the familiar would drive a guy like John Forbes to go wild. He also shows that the familiar is equally crushing to Sue Forbes, and only her faith in a faithless partner makes it any more bearable for her. And de Toth gets a really sick and twisted performance out of Burr, who's aces as Mack! Look for de Toth's Dark Waters and Crime Wave, also on video. Based on the novel by Jay Dratler.

1948 85m/B Dick Powell, Jane Wyatt, Lizabeth Scott, Raymond Burr, John Litel, Byron Barr, Ann Doran, Jimmy Hunt, Selmer Jackson, Margaret Wells, Dick Wassel; D: Andre de Toth; W: Karl Kamb; C: Harry Wild; M: Louis Forbes. VHS, LV

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