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


TomJH
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But Burr WASN'T kidnapping Lizabeth Scott, VX, nor was he trying to take her by physical force.

 

He was trying to emotionally overwhelm her into becoming compliant and leave with him. That is hardly the same thing.

 

Morally, we know that Burr deserved what he got, but Scott is still going to need a good lawyer to avoid a long stay in prison or trip to the death house, depending upon the state (California?).

 

The woman shot a man in the back.

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Maybe Burr would have tried to physically force Scott and maybe he wouldn't have. We don't know. Scott's case of self defense would have been more clear cut if she had waited before pulling a gun out on him.

 

Quite frankly, two bullets in a man's back does not look good on the lady. That would be a problem for any jury, I suspect, no matter what the emotional circumstances of the shooting.

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I checked with my brother-in-law who is the DA here and he said he would have to charge her.

 

As you noted "I don't doubt for a minute he would physically force her"

 

Everyone here agrees with that, BUT, until he uses force or implies that he will use force she was not justified in just shooting him in the back (or side).

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Well I would hope it would be convenient but around 8 years ago the state attorney's office had the DA under investigation for helping rich people. The state couldn't prove anything but my brother-in-law made it clear to me (over Turkey at Thanksgiving no less!), that he couldn't do any me any favors (not that I need any). So the only benefit is that I don't have to do Jury duty!

 

Oh, and he told the younger brother in the family to move out of the county. His brother is the black sheep and the DA wanted to avoid any appearance of conflict of interest.

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finance wrote:

>Have you researched this issue? I am going from my recollections from my Criminal Law class in law school, which admittedly was quite a while ago. I never practiced Criminal Law.

 

I'm a news junkie, and read about cases in the news all the time. That's the basis of my non-professional knowledge. I haven't researched state-by-state laws. It seems to me, generally, that in most places, one is allowed to use deadly force to protect one's life, liberty, and property. In most cases, one cannot use deadly force on someone who has been a threat, but is leaving. But I've read newspaper accounts where some have even gotten away with shooting people in the back, when they were leaving.

 

I vaguely recall a few cases over the years where people had been robbed repeatedly, and set up a booby trap, such as a shotgun tied to a door, to shoot a burglar opening it. IIRC, none of those people got off, but it wasn't because they got the burglar, but because they were endangering the general public. I have also read of robbers bringing civil suits against people who shot them, and winning. Outcomes of self defense cases are all over the map. You don't have to be a lawyer to know that.

 

Jamesjg, I didn't say she wouldn't be indicted, I would expect her to be indicted, unless her family was wealthy, and had pull. But, she had a history with Burr, and knew what to expect from him. I still think a good lawyer could get her off with self defense, but the film doesn't want us to consider such a happy ending. It was a dramatic choice, and could have been played the other way, not that I think it needed to be.

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Again that final scene with Scott and Burr was 'played that way' because this is noir. I really don't think it could of been play 'the other way' and still been effective.

 

i.e. it was played in such a way to show that Burr would still have a negative impact on Scott's life even after death (or even if he lived). i.e. Scott being charged, having to sit in jail (or post a very high bond), and having to endure a trial (regardless of the outcome).

 

So the intent was to leave the viewer thinking 'what happens now' as it relates to Scott and that Scott is still in a PITFALL.

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Lizabeth Scott is primarily associated today with film noir. Yet the lady had a relatively small output of films, with, arguably, The Strange Love of Martha Ivers her most famous (and that's really a Stanwyck film).

 

Pitfall, good as it is, is a little known film. I can only think of two films in which Scott was that favourite of film noir expressions, a femme fatale, Dead Reckoning and Too Late For Tears. I thought she was particularly effective in the latter film.

 

Martha Ivers and Pitfall both have her playing decent sorts. Can anyone think of another film in which Scott was a "bad girl", and, if so, would you recommend the movie. It would appear to me that Scott's femme fatale reputation hinges on only a couple of films. I guess it's a tribute to how good she is in them, though I suspect that most viewers have even yet to see Too Late for Tears. I think she was limited as an actress but that performance really worked for me.

 

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Too Late for Tears - Scott teamed with another film noir icon, Dan Duryea. These two were really excellent in their scenes together. I hope that a decent print of this film surfaces some day.

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It is interesting that you being this topic up of Scott as the femme fatale because my gut reaction would be that she was mostly that, when the actual facts are different.

 

In movies like Pitfall and I Walk Alone, Scott is involved with criminals (both of her boyfriends are crooks), but she wasn't one. I wouldn't classify her as your typical ganster moll either since she appeared unaware (or unterested?), in what her boyfriends were doing. In Pitfall I didn't believe she didn't know where an average Joe got the money to get her all those gifts, but than we are lead to believe that she really was clueless.

 

In Ivers Scott is a gal down on her luck but not a bad egg.

 

As for her acting; I view her like I view George Raft. There is a certain style and look that really fits the movies they are in, but their acting ability is limited. But they could be effective when the director understood their limitations.

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So, James, I gather that you don't know of any femme fatale parts for Scott other than the two I named.

 

I always assumed that Scott's brief time on top as a star in the late '40s was based on the similarity of her appearance to Lauren Bacall, including the husky voice.

 

I believe that Bogart wanted his wife to be co-starred with him in Dead Reckoning but, for whatever reason, it wound up being Scott instead. She's as close to a Bacall substitute as you could get.

 

Having said that, I believe that time proved Bacall to be the superior actress. Interestingly, though, Bacall, unlike Scott, never was a femme fatale.

 

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!

 

Scott and Bacall, or, is it Bacall and Scott?

 

w18vgg.jpg

 

They sure were photographed to have the same "look."

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It is interesting that you being this topic up of Scott as the femme fatale because my gut reaction would be that she was mostly that, when the actual facts are different.

 

I've often wondered the same thing about where Scott got the reputation of being nothing but a femme fatale. I can think of a few of her roles like that ( Too Late For Tears, Easy Living, Bad For Each Other ), but it seems as if more often she's playing either a "nice girl" or at worst a victim of circumstance.

 

As for her acting; I view her like I view George Raft. There is a certain style and look that really fits the movies they are in, but their acting ability is limited. But they could be effective when the director understood their limitations.

 

Spot on observation. Both Scott and Raft were as good or as pedestrian as the script permitted. Scott was very good in those femme fatale roles, but to watch her be the "good girl" alongside Jane Greer's "bad girl" in The Company She Keeps is almost embarrassing.

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To protect one's liberty? The legal term of art is "false imprisonment." I was once unwillingly detained, for quite a while, in the office of a supermarket because , though intending to pay for it, I had eaten a small salad bar purchase before I had paid for it. So I could have justifiably killed the supermarket manager?

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  • 11 months later...

Interesting discussions on Pitfall.

 

Justifiable homicide for Scott, or not?

 

Scott goes to jail, Powell does not. Why?

 

I still think a good lawyer could get her off with self defense, but the film doesn't want us to consider such a happy ending.(ValentineXavier at the time of the movie's showing in 2013)

 

Nope, it doesn't. Hays still around at that point? The bad dame had to be punished, the guy who premeditated a killing did not.

 

Wow.

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Interesting discussions on Pitfall.

 

Justifiable homicide for Scott, or not?

 

Scott goes to jail, Powell does not. Why?

 

I still think a good lawyer could get her off with self defense, but the film doesn't want us to consider such a happy ending.(ValentineXavier at the time of the movie's showing in 2013)

 

Nope, it doesn't. Hays still around at that point? The bad dame had to be punished, the guy who premeditated a killing did not.

 

Wow.

 

Scott shot the gun and admits to the shooting so of course she is the one that is arrested.   

 

To me that has nothing to do with the Production Code.    Also, as I noted before the film is called Pitfall.    Powell's character makes the necessary right choices to get out of his Pitfall.   Scott's character doesn't (she didn't have to shot Burr).    She is still in a pitfall at the end of the movie with Burr's character (especially if he is dead),   still causing her troubles.     That is classic noir.

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Scott shot the gun and admits to the shooting so of course she is the one that is arrested.   

 

To me that has nothing to do with the Production Code.    Also, as I noted before the film is called Pitfall.    Powell's character makes the necessary right choices to get out of his Pitfall.   Scott's character doesn't (she didn't have to shot Burr).    She is still in a pitfall at the end of the movie with Burr's character (especially if he is dead),   still causing her troubles.     That is classic noir.

james, do you think Scott would have gotten out of that apartment alive? True, she left her door unlocked all the time but the very slimy and evil Burr would have broken down the door, I'm sure. Does clear and present danger count for anything?

 

I think the code wanted the family man, only a teeny bit unfaithful, to come out well in the end, while the oh-so-bad dame had to go. The picture painted her as the victim from the beginning, no way she was going to be allowed to start over.

 

I for one was glad she did it.

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Interesting discussions on Pitfall.

 

Justifiable homicide for Scott, or not?

 

Scott goes to jail, Powell does not. Why?

 

I still think a good lawyer could get her off with self defense, but the film doesn't want us to consider such a happy ending.(ValentineXavier at the time of the movie's showing in 2013)

 

Nope, it doesn't. Hays still around at that point? The bad dame had to be punished, the guy who premeditated a killing did not.

 

Wow.

 

She shoots Burr for no legal reason. He was packing a bag and had his side and back turned to her, and she shot him. He did not break in and he was not threatening her. So her shooting of him was illegal.

 

Powell shot a burglar who was breaking into his home. We all heard window glass breaking as the guy broke in. Powell was defending his home, his family, and himself, so that shooting was legal.

 

If Burr was breaking into Scott's apartment and she shot him, then that would have been a legal shooting.

 

The "code" part of the film was Powell telling the full story to the police, instead of not telling them all the background information. However, he broke no law, so he was not arrested. He broke a "moral code" with his affair with Scott, thus, according to the code, he had to tell all about himself and the dame to the police and his wife.

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james, do you think Scott would have gotten out of that apartment alive? True, she left her door unlocked all the time but the very slimy and evil Burr would have broken down the door, I'm sure. Does clear and present danger count for anything?

 

I think the code wanted the family man, only a teeny bit unfaithful, to come out well in the end, while the oh-so-bad dame had to go. The picture painted her as the victim from the beginning, no way she was going to be allowed to start over.

 

I for one was glad she did it.

 

Based on how the scene was shot,   to me she had options other than shooting him.    Either way,  the director's intent was to make it unclear.    To me that was good direction and unrelated to enforcing the code.      Noir calls for unclean endings and so I still believe the director shot the scene due to how post WWII movies were being made at the time more so than because the Code forced his hand.

 

I also don't agree that the intent of the screenplay or the director was to paint Scott as the 'oh-so-bad dame'.    Instead Scott is just a classic noir figure;  not bad,  not good,  but one who ran around with bad people (her ex-boyfriend was indeed a criminal),  and one just clueless enough to not make a clean break.    Again,  just classic noir not sexist type direction  (well anymore sexist than your average 40's film).

 

Scott played some really bad gal in the noir genre.   Her role in Pitfall wasn't one of them,  but instead just a tragic noir figure. 

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She shoots Burr for no legal reason. He was packing a bag and had his side and back turned to her, and she shot him. He did not break in and he was not threatening her. So her shooting of him was illegal.

 

Powell shot a burglar who was breaking into his home. We all heard window glass breaking as the guy broke in. Powell was defending his home, his family, and himself, so that shooting was legal.

 

If Burr was breaking into Scott's apartment and she shot him, then that would have been a legal shooting.

 

The "code" part of the film was Powell telling the full story to the police, instead of not telling them all the background information. However, he broke no law, so he was not arrested. He broke a "moral code" with his affair with Scott, thus, according to the code, he had to tell all about himself and the dame to the police and his wife.

He wasn't stalking her? He wasn't harassing her? Did she have a chance of putting a restraining order on him with his pals the cops? Think Scott could have gotten away from Burr if she tried? Think she could have made it to the door if he was coming towards her?

 

No, she couldn't have.

Clear and present danger.

 

Not guilty, justifiable homicide.

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Based on how the scene was shot,   to me she had options other than shooting him.    Either way,  the director's intent was to make it unclear.    To me that was good direction and unrelated to enforcing the code.      Noir calls for unclean endings and so I still believe the director shot the scene due to how post WWII movies were being made at the time more so than because the Code forced his hand.

 

I also don't agree that the intent of the screenplay or the director was to paint Scott as the 'oh-so-bad dame'.    Instead Scott is just a classic noir figure;  not bad,  not good,  but one who ran around with bad people (her ex-boyfriend was indeed a criminal),  and one just clueless enough to not make a clean break.    Again,  just classic noir not sexist type direction  (well anymore sexist than your average 40's film).

 

Scott played some really bad gal in the noir genre.   Her role in Pitfall wasn't one of them,  but instead just a tragic noir figure. 

In all seriousness, james, what exactly were her options at that point? I understand there would have been no movie had she not (stupid move) sat down on her step and asked him for a cigarette when she came home to find him stalking her, but at that point she should have packed and gone to Bermuda.

 

Oh, and could Burr BE any oilier and more evil than he was in so many movies? I guess when the producers thought slimy and hateful, they thought: Raymond Burr! And there he was, the guy I liked in Godzilla.

 

I've seen lots more movies with lots more stupid dames and unfortunately in real life things are not that different, but for some reason Scott's character hit me. Perhaps it was the juxtaposition with Powell's squeaky clean tarnished family life in Perfectville.

 

Next time, Scott should wait until Burr starts towards her.

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In all seriousness, james, what exactly were her options at that point? I understand there would have been no movie had she not (stupid move) sat down on her step and asked him for a cigarette when she came home to find him stalking her, but at that point she should have packed and gone to Bermuda.

 

Oh, and could Burr BE any oilier and more evil than he was in so many movies? I guess when the producers thought slimy and hateful, they thought: Raymond Burr! And there he was, the guy I liked in Godzilla.

 

I've seen lots more movies with lots more stupid dames and unfortunately in real life things are not that different, but for some reason Scott's character hit me. Perhaps it was the juxtaposition with Powell's squeaky clean tarnished family life in Perfectville.

 

Next time, Scott should wait until Burr starts towards her.

 

Don't get me wrong;  I'm A-OK that she shot the slimy Burr.   I yelled 'yea,  finally' when she shot him.    My point is that this being noir the film couldn't end with a happy ending for all.    But I do see you're point;  the screenwriter had to chose between the  Husband who cheats or the single gal he cheated with and of course it is the gal.  But note that even Powell's ending isn't rosy.   His wife take him back but with reservations.      The fact that the ending doesn't say what happens to Scott does provide hope for those rooting for Scott's character.     Just assume she uses her talents on a jury and beats the rap!

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