Pitfall (1948)

Youtube streaming, black & white, fullscreen 4:3

A for me unheard of Film Noir, and this until i read a novel by one of my favourite writers of crime - the Detroit based Loren D. Estleman,
The Raymond Chandler of today, famous for mainly his fantastic Amos Walker P.I. series but he also writes other series, historical crime
from Detroit and one about the UCLA film archivist Valentino. Estleman is a film LOVER and there are references to film spread around in
most of his novels and stories. It's a pity that Estleman seems to be totally unknown in my home-country Sweden, and along with the
genius Elmore Leonard (R.I.P.) he's my favourite modern writer of crime literature.

In one of Estleman's books private investigator Amos Walker is hired to find a missing husband. A man that escaped the harsh realities
of life, and in Detroit probably extra harsh, by watching old Film Noir movies in his cellar cinema. He supposedly believes that he's inside
a Film Noir movie and has lost the grip of reality, and the last film he watched before vanishing into smoke was the 1948 Pitfall, also
one of Amos Waker's favourite movies, so naturally i had to see this film too. I watched it on Youtube streaming video in OK quality.

The 19th in the Great Amos Walker Series, the 2006 Nicotine Kiss


Johnny Forbes (Dick Powell) has a lovely sweet wife, Sue (Jane Wyatt) and a little son and they live in a semi-detached house in LA,
and he has a good work as a loss adjuster at an insurance company. He's bored and fed up with his life, just a lot of routines and
his wife teases him that he is The Average American, he's the embodiment of the Invisible Man. No Fun.

One day at his work, Olympia Mutual Insurance Co., a private detective, MacDonald (Raymond Burr) is waiting for him with a report
about an insurance case. The Case of Bill Smiley (Byron Barr), a man doing jailtime due to embezzlement, money stolen for buying
presents to his mistress Mona Stevens (Lizabeth Scott). The insurance company is now trying to regain as much as possible of the
embezzled money, and it's Johnny's job to visit Mona and make her compile a list of everything Bill Smiley has given her.

Johnny and Mona drives to the harbour to look at the boat Bill has given her, and surprise .... Johnny falls in love with her, Big
Time. They start seing each other a lot and the problem isn't just that he's married to sweet Sue, but also that MacDonald, the
detective also has fallen in love with her. Even worse is, that the big, rough looking detective has a distinctly psychopathic mind
and that he begins to follow them around. Could it be any more troublesome for Johnny?
Yes it can, because soon Smiley will be released from prison and he's crazed out due to jealousy and also armed and dangerous.
Poor Johnny. Will he tell his wife about the mess he's in, caught between 2 violence proned maniacs?

Aaah, yes, a very fine film noir crime drama Pitfall is indeed, and it has the genre iconic actress Lizabeth Scott in it. The actress
with the lovely eyebrows and unique looks who was made to act in the films that was to be called Film Noir later.
Maybe not a masterpiece though as Loren D. Estleman and others claim it to be, but very good, very good.


Back to Film Noir page