Movie Review: Pitfall (1948)

Synopsis: Insurance adjustor John Forbes feels his life is in a rut and talks about running away to South America with his wife, Sue, and son, Tommy. When his investigator, MacDonald, discovers imprisoned embezzler Bill Smiley spent the stolen money on presents for his girlfriend, Mona Stevens, Forbes visits Mona to collect and ends up having an affair with her. She calls it off when she learns he is married but a jealous MacDonald, who knows about the affair and wants Mona for himself, attempts to leverage Mona's desire to protect Forbes' family life to his advantage.

Who's in it? The movie stars Dick Powell, Raymond Burr, Lizabeth Scott, Jane Wyatt, Ann Doran and Byron Barr.

Review: My wife had martial arts until 8 last night and since a steady rain meant I didn't need to water the garden or do any yardwork; I used my free time to watch a movie. This was one I had saved a few days ago and it turned out to be a good choice.

At first, I wasn't really sure what to expect from this movie. Films about married men having affairs can go a number of different directions and not all of them are entertaining. This movie, however, wound up being both unpredictable and kept me on the edge of my seat.

I think the thing I liked most about this is the fact the movie doesn't make any effort to convince the viewer Forbes (Powell) is a good guy. He wasn't some naive husband led astray by a temptress. If anything, he took advantage of Mona's (Scott) vulnerability and made her think there was a future with him by not revealing he was already married and had a child. As a result, everything that happened to him afterwards was well deserved, at least in my opinion, and the only reason anyone would hope he wasn't caught was so his devoted wife (Wyatt) doesn't get hurt.

Speaking of Mona and Sue, I loved how the movie made them strong, independent women but still gave them believable flaws. Mona, as I said, wasn't some femme fatale, she was just a woman who had a tendency to fall for men who were nice to her. Sue was a devoted wife who could tell when her husband was lying to her but still carried just enough of a blind spot to not realize he had cheated on her. As a result of this, while it was hard to feel bad for Forbes, it did feel like the two women were getting the raw end of the deal.

I'm also going to comment on the solid performance by Burr as the main antagonist, MacDonald. As I said, Forbes wasn't a good guy and that meant MacDonald had to be quite a bit worse to be considered the villain. Burr did that to perfection and, whenever he was in a room, especially when he was alone with Mona, it just lifted the tension in the scene. You can't have a good movie without a good villain, and he was one of the main reasons I enjoyed this film so much.

Final Opinion: This is a solid drama/thriller that I enjoyed watching and would recommend.

My Grade: A


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