Rupert Pupkin Speaks: Kino Lorber Studio Classics - PITFALL on Blu-ray ""

Thursday, January 28, 2016

Kino Lorber Studio Classics - PITFALL on Blu-ray

PITFALL (1948; Andre De Toth)
"That's the trouble with the whole world today - nobody appreciates what they have."
Sometimes I forget about Dick Powell. Not completely mind you, but just enough to be pleasantly reminded of his existence when I catch him in some old movie I've never seen before. Or even in movie I have seen, like say MURDER, MY SWEET, where he kills it as Philip Marlowe in one of the great detective movies ever. Powell just has this lovely deadpan sarcasm that he can dig out and slouch into when the opportunity arises. He can play cool enui with a similar grace and splendor. He comes off sharp and quick with the dialogue when given the right role.
By the way, whatever happened to the insurance business and all the intrigue surrounded it during the 1940s and 50s? Watching movies like PITFALL and DOUBLE INDEMNITY makes insurance men look like daredevils whereas the job itself basically became a punchline in movies a few decades later. If a characters was supposed to be boring, he was given the job of insurance salesman. PITFALL even plays on the idea that the gig is dull when it opens with Dick Powell's character (an everyman named John Forbes) complaining about being a rut with his job. Little does he know that rut is about to break wide open when he meets Ms. Mona Stevens (Lisabeth Scott). Mona Stevens is unexpectedly charming and makes a quick crush for old John Forbes. Two problems. First, Forbes is married and second, the sleazy private detective (played by Raymond Burr) he uses for insurance investigation has a bit of thing for Mona Stevens as well. As you might imagine, in the world of film noir, it's not the best situation to be in to get between a scumbag and the object of his affection. Scumbags can make things complicated and they usually do in film noir. This noir is more of an "ordinary man in an extraordinary mess" kinda things though and Dick Powell is by no means re-doing his Marlowe character here. He's just a family man who get's caught up with another woman and gets in over his head. Lisabeth Scott's character is also not the femme fatale we might expect though, she's a girl who attracts less than reputable dude's but she is a kind and sensitive person at her core. Lisabeth Scott is no stranger to film noir though. She's started in some classics of the genre - TOO LATE FOR TEARS, I WALK ALONE, DARK CITY and DEAD RECKONING to name just a few. She resembles Lauren Bacall a little bit and she can really turn on the smolder when she wants to. PITFALL is a much more grounded drama with noir elements mixed in and that is kinda neat. The whole affair is helmed by the great Andre De Toth who has made several other cool noirs likeCRIME WAVE and HIDDEN FEAR as well as a ton of great westerns. 
The transfer on this new Blu-ray looks pretty nice and I totally recommend that noir fans grab this disc. If my praise isn't effusive enough to convince you, check out Glenn Erickson's coverage which is sure to win you over.

Special Features:
This Blu-ray includes an commentary track from film noir guru extraordinaire Eddie Muller and it is excellent (as are all of Eddie's commentaries). Muller is a self professed "Noirchaelogist" and he earns that title every time I hear him speak. He's just one of those guys whose obsession with noir cinema is completely infectious and invigorating. I love his commentaries. They are Criterion-level stuff and Criterion should use him more than they do (though he did do an interview on Criterion's latest Blu-ray of GILDA).

You can purchase this Blu-ray from Amazon here:

No comments: