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PITFALL (1948) - Monday, Sept 2 at 4:15 pm EST


TomJH
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Yeah, I know what you mean, Dargo. That lecture by John Litel does have a Production Code feel to it, doesn't it? Not at all dissimilar to those closing seconds at the end of the MGM "Crime Doesn't Pay" series, when an authority figure turns to the camera and warns the audience against the avoidable perils of whatever that short's subject had been about.

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Yeah, exactly!

 

And as I mentioned, it often seemed as if poor ol' John Litel was often the guy that Louis B, had doin' the speechifyin' TOO...though not in those particular shorts.

 

Remember those series of two-reelers where he played the father, Ann Doran(also in Pitfall as Powell's secretary) played the mother, and their kid with the dog, and how those flicks pretty much consisted of Litel doin' nothin' but dispensing one "life lesson" after another to the poor kid? LOL

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Someone on parole carrying a gun would get a lot of jail time back then so if the police would of stopped him before he shot anyone that might of avoided a killing. But as Dargo points out calling the police would of likely resulted in Smiley being killed anyhow (and likely Powell's house being shot up as well instead of just a broken window).

 

As for the speech by the DA; Yea, that was kind of phony. Can you imagine the speech this DA would of given George Zimmerman! (and GZ did call the police!).

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Yeah, I suppose that COULD have worked out that way in Los Angeles, California.

 

'Cause IF this whole thing would've taken place in Phoenix ARIZONA, you can almost BET poor ol' Smiley there would've ended up with a chalk mark around his body as fast as you could say "Don't shoot!"

 

(...not that I'm implying Arizona cops are trigger-happy here.....much) ;)

 

LOL

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  • 2 weeks later...

I just got back from vacation and watched *Pitfall*. What a treat! I had never seen it before. My take on the characters and personalities is in agreement with TomJH.

 

One thing no one has mentioned is that Scott's killing of Burr was clearly self defense. He was in the process of abducting her, against her will. He was packing her bags, and would have left prints. He was not wanted in her apartment, and entered illegally. I think that any decent criminal defense attorney could have gotten her off.

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VX, I'm glad you liked Pitfall. It's always great when you enjoy a good little film, particularly if it's one of which you have heard little.

 

I have to agree with James, however. While Burr was clearly trying to pressure Scott into leaving with him, he wasn't physically forcing her to do anything. And the fact remains that she shot him in the back - twice.

 

Of course, we sympathize with her, and possibly a good defense lawyer will make some kind of case so that she gets off with a lesser sentence. But she's still a murderess, in my opinion.

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I don't see how it could be any clearer that Burr was abducting her against her will. She had told him SO many times, to leave her alone. Did she have to tattoo it on her forehead? It was quite clear that Burr was planning on taking her forcibly, and that makes it self defense, even if he didn't plan to kill her. As to being shot in the back, well, I think it was more like in the side, given her angle to him, as he packed her suitcase. But, he was in her apartment, with illegal intentions. He wasn't trying to leave, so being shot in the back makes no difference.

 

I do think the filmmakers are contriving to make it look like she is guilty, but I think it's clear that she isn't. Burr was in a position to physically block the door, so announcing she was leaving would be a poor strategy. She could have pointed the gun at him, ordered him to leave, and shot him if he came toward her. I think she knew well that if she succeeded in making him leave this time, that NEXT time, he'd arrange it so that she hadn't a chance, and that's why she shot him. But, I still maintain that she was legally justified in what she did, and would most likely get off, if she had a good criminal lawyer.

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Sorry but I don't agree that the shooting was legally justified. But with a good lawyer she could get a fairly light sentence.

 

Note that this type of ending fits the noir world. Burr deserves to die but even in death Burr still has a negative influence over the 'good people' in this noir world. By getting Scott to do time for killing him, Burr's influence continues to dominate.

 

A legally justified killing would be too close to a happy ending. The last scene between husband and wife makes it clear no one is going to have a happy ending (at least in the short term). THAT is noir!

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finance wrote:

 

>Agreed. In most jurisdictions, you may only use deadly force if threatened with deadly force. Texas, I believe, not surprisingly, with its "six-gun" mentality, is an exception.

 

In most states, you can defend your property against thieves with deadly force. In some states, you can even defend your neighbor's property against thieves with deadly force. There was such a case much in the news, a year or so ago. There have also been numerous cases of home owners shooting and killing people approaching their doors, because they felt threatened. They usually get off. I remember one particularly egregious case, when an Asian teen in a Halloween costume drove up to a house, thinking it was the address of a Halloween party. The owner shot him before he got up to the door, and it was ruled justified.

 

I doubt that there is ONE state in the US that would not allow you to use deadly force to prevent yourself from being kidnapped, as Burr was clearly planning for Scott.

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