4.2 Solid Film Noir by Andre De Toth (Crime Wave). The acting isn't great here, although Raymond Burr is suitably detestable and Lizabeth Scott is a dish and a half. And some of the Mid-Century Hollywood conventions...did the Hayes Code require that married couples have separate twin beds? So dumb. But whatever; this film's got momentum and never skips a beat.
Pitfall is a blast. What an unsung little gem. I always love catching a great noir I havent seen yet. Scott and Powell have both been in several top notch noirs, but this may be the best either were in (although Murder My Sweet is pretty damned perfect). Throw in Burr as a creepy stalker ex cop and you have a film thats a bit Double Indemnity meets...well Im not sure off hand. Oh well, great stuff. 4.5 stars
Vertically built frames, with lots of horizontal lines! De Toth's direction is economic, but the script is pretty bad, squandering themes of corrupted domesticity with poor dialogue and characterizations. Powell also turns in a pretty weak lead performance, makes me wish the flick was about Burr.
Pitfall is the reason I sit through any movie that even claims to have noir-like tendencies. For as many weak noir imitators as I've seen (after making it through the greats) I'll find one such as Pitfall that keeps me searching through the wreckage. Pitfall looks like a noir even if it doesn't entirely act it (sorry, despite the ending Lizabeth Scott was too kind to be a femme fatale) but is S O worth the watch.
This film needs a DVD release. The direction from de Toth and cinematography from Harry Wilds are far from groundbreaking. On the whole, de Toth’s direction has a detached feel to it. He puts the camera in the best place to take in the action and then just lets things unfold. It works though, because the three lead performances come close to being career bests. In my top 20 for all time noirs. It's that good.
PITFALL sets you up to expect it to slip nice and easy into pat noir categorization. But this, of course, is De Toth, and he has a habit of pulling rugs out from underneath you w/ a kind of cavalier lack of fanfare. This is another efficient De Toth masterpiece in which human beings with dimensions operate in a world of consequences. Lizabeth Scott plays the bombshell, but it's she who is destroyed by men's bullshit.