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Pitfall


26 replies to this topic

#1 jamesjazzguitar

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Posted 10 October 2015 - 12:58 PM

Mac is not dead at the end of Pitfall.

 

Correct.  I should have said attempted homicide.  



#2 Marianne

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Posted 10 October 2015 - 12:11 PM

The question of if the DA would charge Mona for some form of unjustifiable homicide makes for a nice ending and is a more faithful noir ending than one that makes it clear Mona isn't in trouble with the law.   Even in death that creep Mack is messing with her.    Unfair, you bet, but life in the noir universe is anything but fair.  

 

Mac is not dead at the end of Pitfall.



#3 TopBilled

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Posted 04 October 2015 - 03:48 PM

I hope Mona gets a good lawyer!

Marianne,

 

I can't tell reading over some of your comments if you are a fan of Lizabeth Scott, or if you are more a fan of the character she plays in this movie? I'm just wondering is all. Trying to understand what you like or identify with in terms of this particular portrayal.


"The truth? What good is the truth if it destroys us all..?" -- Mady Christians in ALL MY SONS (1948).


#4 Marianne

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Posted 04 October 2015 - 03:46 PM

The question of if the DA would charge Mona for some form of unjustifiable homicide makes for a nice ending and is a more faithful noir ending than one that makes it clear Mona isn't in trouble with the law.   Even in death that creep Mack is messing with her.    Unfair, you bet, but life in the noir universe is anything but fair.  

 

The DA actually has sympathy for Mona and none for Johnny. Here's what the DA says to Johnny toward the end of Pitfall:

 

“I’d like to hold you [Johnny] all right. Personally I think we have the wrong person [Mona] in the cell upstairs. There’s nothing I can do about it. It so happens the homicide you committed was justifiable. Bill Smiley was coming to kill you. Just a little call to the police, and you could have avoided all this mess. But no . . . you kill a man. And that’ not a pleasant thing to live with for the rest of your life. Or don’t things like that bother you? Go on. Get out of here.”

 

I hope Mona gets a good lawyer!



#5 jamesjazzguitar

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Posted 04 October 2015 - 03:32 PM

Mac was trying to take Mona away against her will (i.e., kidnap her). He stalked her throughout the movie and then ends up at her place, packing her clothes for her, so he can kidnap her.

 

The question of if the DA would charge Mona for some form of unjustifiable homicide makes for a nice ending and is a more faithful noir ending than one that makes it clear Mona isn't in trouble with the law.   Even in death that creep Mack is messing with her.    Unfair, you bet, but life in the noir universe is anything but fair.  


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#6 Marianne

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Posted 04 October 2015 - 02:15 PM

Yes,  she even ends up in jail for killing that creep Mack!    How unfair is that.       

 

Mac was trying to take Mona away against her will (i.e., kidnap her). He stalked her throughout the movie and then ends up at her place, packing her clothes for her, so he can kidnap her.



#7 jamesjazzguitar

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Posted 04 October 2015 - 01:53 PM

Poor Lizabeth Scott can't catch a break in Pitfall or with some of her viewers. What is unwholesome about stopping an affair with Johnny when she finds out he's married, warning Johnny that her boyfriend Smiley is heading to Johnny's place with a gun, wishing her stalker Mac would disappear? What's a lead actress gotta do?!?!

 

Yes,  she even ends up in jail for killing that creep Mack!    How unfair is that.    (PS: I like the fact the movie ends without letting us know what happens to her).   But just like the husband,   Mona's life is in a Pitfall due to her bad decisions;

 

e.g.  having a boyfriend like Smiley.    Accepting expensive gifts that she knew Smiley couldn't afford from any legal job or profession (did Smiley even pretend to have job when the two were seeing each other?).    Not returning the stolen goods once Smiley goes to jail.        This is a classic noir theme;  a basically decent person gets tangled in a downward spiral by making some bad choices.       


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#8 TopBilled

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Posted 03 October 2015 - 08:56 PM

Poor Lizabeth Scott can't catch a break in Pitfall or with some of her viewers. What is unwholesome about stopping an affair with Johnny when she finds out he's married, warning Johnny that her boyfriend Smiley is heading to Johnny's place with a gun, wishing her stalker Mac would disappear? What's a lead actress gotta do?!?!

But Scott's character is morally compromised in the story...Wyatt's is not. Scott is still the 'other woman.'

 

Anyway, I was trying to contrast the two types of female characters (as archetypes). One can break up a family; and the other can keep it together.


"The truth? What good is the truth if it destroys us all..?" -- Mady Christians in ALL MY SONS (1948).


#9 Marianne

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Posted 03 October 2015 - 06:28 PM

Wyatt's character has to forgive Powell's character, in a way, or else she runs the risk of seeming as unwholesome as Scott. Wyatt is playing the antithesis of the homewrecker. 

 

Poor Lizabeth Scott can't catch a break in Pitfall or with some of her viewers. What is unwholesome about stopping an affair with Johnny when she finds out he's married, warning Johnny that her boyfriend Smiley is heading to Johnny's place with a gun, wishing her stalker Mac would disappear? What's a lead actress gotta do?!?!



#10 TopBilled

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Posted 01 October 2015 - 09:29 PM

Wyatt's character has to forgive Powell's character, in a way, or else she runs the risk of seeming as unwholesome as Scott. Wyatt is playing the antithesis of the homewrecker. 


"The truth? What good is the truth if it destroys us all..?" -- Mady Christians in ALL MY SONS (1948).


#11 jamesjazzguitar

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Posted 01 October 2015 - 06:45 PM

I agree with this. Also, putting Dick Powell in this part is significant, because the way the cheating husband is cast, it is with an actor that seems like someone a wife (and the audience) can forgive. He doesn't seem as evil as Raymond Burr does. LOL

 

Well of course the Powell character isn't evil,  especially compared to Mack,  the Burr character,  but the husband is still a jerk.   This is a necessary component to a noir film in that he isn't a completely innocent man that due to circumstances finds himself in a pitfall (e.g. the Fonda character in The Wrong Man),  but instead a selfish individual that is in a pitfall because he wanted to play with fire.  

 

While I agree the ending implies the wife will not be divorcing him (especially given the times as well as the child),   she isn't a sappy character that allows her husband or anyone to take advantage of her.    How the wife's part is written and also played by Wyatt is one of the things I love about this film.     



#12 TopBilled

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Posted 01 October 2015 - 05:51 PM

Johnny is going to have to make due with second place (Tommy's first) and he's going to have to prove his love all over again. That doesn't make Sue a dutiful wife exactly, but it does make her a woman in love who has been cheated on and not quite willing to give up on her child's father. 

I agree with this. Also, putting Dick Powell in this part is significant, because the way the cheating husband is cast, it is with an actor that seems like someone a wife (and the audience) can forgive. He doesn't seem as evil as Raymond Burr does. LOL


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"The truth? What good is the truth if it destroys us all..?" -- Mady Christians in ALL MY SONS (1948).


#13 Marianne

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Posted 01 October 2015 - 05:42 PM

I think it's implied the marriage will survive. She is not exactly giving him the cold shoulder at the end. Plus, it conforms with the societal belief at the time that a dutiful wife should forgive the philandering husband and remain by her man's side no matter what.

 

I thought the continuation of the marriage was even a little bit more than implied at the end of Pitfall. Sue goes to the police station to pick up Johnny. She protested his going to the police and confessing, but there she is, waiting for him. But I don't think she's simply a dutiful wife either. She tells him that she's not sure that they'll ever be the same. Right after Johnny kills Smiley, Sue does get angry with Johnny (I think she suspected his infidelity but had no proof), and she is determined to keep the family together for the sake of their son. Johnny is going to have to make due with second place (Tommy's first) and he's going to have to prove his love all over again. That doesn't make Sue a dutiful wife exactly, but it does make her a woman in love who has been cheated on and not quite willing to give up on her child's father. Johnny did make a mistake, but he does impress me as a man who is well aware that he has made a mistake and is willing to deal now (meaning at the end of the movie) with the consequences.

 

Did I mention that I really enjoyed Pitfall?! I think it's a great movie. I still think it stands up pretty well after several decades.


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#14 TopBilled

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Posted 01 October 2015 - 02:04 PM

In fact we don't know if the marriage will continue or not.   

I think it's implied the marriage will survive. She is not exactly giving him the cold shoulder at the end. Plus, it conforms with the societal belief at the time that a dutiful wife should forgive the philandering husband and remain by her man's side no matter what.


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"The truth? What good is the truth if it destroys us all..?" -- Mady Christians in ALL MY SONS (1948).


#15 jamesjazzguitar

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Posted 01 October 2015 - 01:47 PM

Good points. But Bill Smiley was intent on killing Johnny. Mona warned Johnny about Smiley's intentions, so it could be argued that Johnny acted in self-defense. And I think shooting Smiley did bug Johnny. He admits this to Sue ("You better call the police. I just killed a man") with his head in his hand. I like Dick Powell (he's one of my favorites), but the character isn't sympathetic only because of the way Powell portrayed him. And he did finally grow a conscience, which is more than I can say for Mac.

 

Well how his wife responds to him at the end of the film is telling (as well as a very mature \ realistic way to deal with the situation).

 

She doesn't just accept him and forgive him.   In fact we don't know if the marriage will continue or not.   While he appeared to grow a conscience by the end even his wife isn't sure it wasn't done out of convenience and therefore can't decide if she will continue being with him.



#16 Marianne

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Posted 30 September 2015 - 08:00 PM

Well the husband,  Powell's character,  is only somewhat sympathetic and that is due mainly to how Powell plays him NOT his actual actions.  Based on his actual actions the guy is a jerk.    e.g.  Scott's former boyfriend who is killed.   That death could have been prevented by Powell but he cared more about hiding his affair than anything else.   Shooting the guy didn't really bug him much.

 

Good points. But Bill Smiley was intent on killing Johnny. Mona warned Johnny about Smiley's intentions, so it could be argued that Johnny acted in self-defense. And I think shooting Smiley did bug Johnny. He admits this to Sue ("You better call the police. I just killed a man") with his head in his hand. I like Dick Powell (he's one of my favorites), but the character isn't sympathetic only because of the way Powell portrayed him. And he did finally grow a conscience, which is more than I can say for Mac.



#17 Marianne

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Posted 30 September 2015 - 07:55 PM

I think you meant Jane Wyatt, not Wyman. I agree they are all very good in this film. Excellent cast.

 

Thanks for the clarification. I knew I should've checked before I clicked on "Post"!


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#18 TopBilled

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Posted 30 September 2015 - 03:25 PM

I finally saw Pitfall and loved it. Dick Powell, Lizabeth Scott, Jane Wyman, and Raymond Burr are all fantastic in this film. It's completely noir--and the funny thing is that all the characters are completely sympathetic, except for Mac. And all of them are believable. The story holds up pretty well considering it was made in 1948.

I think you meant Jane Wyatt, not Wyman. I agree they are all very good in this film. Excellent cast.


"The truth? What good is the truth if it destroys us all..?" -- Mady Christians in ALL MY SONS (1948).


#19 jamesjazzguitar

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Posted 30 September 2015 - 03:10 PM

I finally saw Pitfall and loved it. Dick Powell, Lizabeth Scott, Jane Wyman, and Raymond Burr are all fantastic in this film. It's completely noir--and the funny thing is that all the characters are completely sympathetic, except for Mac. And all of them are believable. The story holds up pretty well considering it was made in 1948.

 

Well the husband,  Powell's character,  is only somewhat sympathetic and that is due mainly to how Powell plays him NOT his actual actions.  Based on his actual actions the guy is a jerk.    e.g.  Scott's former boyfriend who is killed.   That death could have been prevented by Powell but he cared more about hiding his affair than anything else.   Shooting the guy didn't really bug him much.



#20 Marianne

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Posted 30 September 2015 - 02:56 PM

 PITFALL 1948 is a film noir that I enjoyed watching tonight. Dick Powell portrays John Forbes a insurance man who is living the American Dream. Jane Wyatt plays his dutiful wife, and with their young son they live in suburban Los Angeles. John feels that his life has become routine, and he voices his complaints to his wife and boss. John`s firm has paid off for a robbery, and he wants to recover the items that were purchased with the stolen money. John is aided in the recovery by a private detective MacDonald creepily played by Raymond Burr. The robber was caught, and he is now in jail. MacDonald traced the items to  to Mona Stevens (Lizbeth Scott) the robber`s model girlfriend. MacDonald wants to collect the items personally since he has fallen in love with Mona. John seeking an adventure decideds to collect the expensive items himself. When John and Mona meet complications arise, and life is never the same for everybody involved. The more film noirs that I see Dick Powell and Lizbeth Scott  in, I am entertained. The role of Mona Stevens in Pitfall is a sharp contrast to her portrayal of Jane Palmer in TOO LATE FOR TEARS. PITFALL is also available on you tube.

 

I finally saw Pitfall and loved it. Dick Powell, Lizabeth Scott, Jane Wyman, and Raymond Burr are all fantastic in this film. It's completely noir--and the funny thing is that all the characters are completely sympathetic, except for Mac. And all of them are believable. The story holds up pretty well considering it was made in 1948.





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