Friday, January 15, 2010

Pitfall (1948): Good Dreams Are Harder to Keep

"Life is a betrayal. And you know, sometimes you betray yourself too you know. Let’s have the guts to admit it. There isn’t anybody born here lately, who didn’t play dirty sometime somewhere in his life. So why do you hide it? Truth, honesty, that’s my key. " ~ André de Toth

I was intrigued to learn that the Film Noir Foundation had included André De Toth's Pitfall (1948) in their Noir City 8 event in San Francisco from Jan. 22nd to Jan. 31st, 2010. To pique your interest in this fascinating take on the frayed seams in the American Dream, I dug out of my files an appreciation of this film. If you can't get to the Noir City 8 festival you may find a DVD of this movie, which is scheduled to be released in May, 2011. It's worth a look for one of Dick Powell's more interesting dyspeptic performances as John Forbes, an insurance investigator who becomes intrigued with that sphinx-like Lizabeth Scott, an actress who evokes in this viewer a mixture of suspicion, sympathy, and grudging respect for her independent characterizations.

Noir City: Oh to be in San Francisco now that darkness is there again

Noir City 8 in San Francisco is scheduled for January 22nd-31st, 2010 at the Castro Theatre. The list below shows the scheduled films. I wish I could attend in more than spirit, but I hope that anyone who has the privilege of attending will share their impressions.

I'm delighted to see that the Film Noir Foundation will be presenting their Cry Danger (1951-Robert Parrish). This gritty little movie, about a guy who's just been sprung from several years in the pen for something he didn't do is one of my favorite Dick Powell performances. He's a man who revels in appearing cynical, though, of course he loses all his guile when around Rhonda Fleming, a woman who belongs to another, naturally.

Reminiscent in several ways of those medieval stories about a knight, long believed dead, who returns to a corrupt kingdom, the sometimes light-hearted approach of the director Robert Parrish to this story allows several good actors to shine, particularly Regis Toomey as a cop with a heart as soft and creased as his old felt hat and a malevolent William Conrad, who appears, at one point, rather like a turtle who has been turned on his back. Best of all are two smaller roles featuring the delightful Richard Erdman's as an alcoholic but verbally deft sidekick and the inimitable Jay Adler as a morose landlord who really needs to think about another way to make a living in postwar LA. The Los Angeles atmosphere is redolent of the post war period, when housing was at a premium, as was justice. The trailer for Cry Danger (1951) can be seen below:

Noir City 8 Schedule. More Information about this event can be seen here.:

*Denotes a rarity NOT available on DVD.
Check the Program Guide for times, tickets and program notes.

Friday, January 22
PITFALL (1948) Dir. André De Toth, archival 35mm print
LARCENY (1948) Dir. George Sherman, brand new 35mm print

Saturday, January 23, Matinée
FLY BY NIGHT (1942) Dir. Robert Siodmak*
DEPORTED (1950) Dir. Robert Siodmak*

Saturday, January 23, Evening
CRY DANGER (1951) Dir. Robert Parrish, newly restored*
THE MOB (1951) Dir. Robert Parish*

Sunday, January 24
NIAGARA (1953) Dir. Henry Hathaway
THE ASPHALT JUNGLE (1950) Dir. John Huston

Monday, January 25
SUSPENSE (1946) Dir. Frank Tuttle
THE GANGSTER (1947) Dir. Gordon Wiles*

Tuesday, January 26
HE RAN ALL THE WAY (1951) Dir. John Berry*

Wednesday, January 27
ONE GIRLS' CONFESSION (1953) Dir. Hugo Haas*
WOMEN'S PRISON (1955) Lewis Seiler*

Thursday, January 28
RED LIGHT (1949) Dir. Roy Del Ruth*
WALK A CROOKED MILE (1948) Dir. Gordon Douglas*

Friday, January 29
SLATTERY'S HURRICANE (1949) Dir. André de Toth*
PICKUP ON SOUTH STREET (1953) Dir. Samuel Fuller

Saturday January 30, Matinée
INSIDE JOB (1946) Dir. Jean Yarbrough*
ARMORED CAR ROBBERY (1950) Dir. Richard Fleischer*

Saturday, January 30.
HUMAN DESIRE (1954) Dir. Fritz Lang*
ODDS AGAINST TOMORROW (1959) Dir. Robert Wise

Sunday January 31
ESCAPE IN THE FOG (1945) Dir. Budd Boetticher*
A PLACE IN THE SUN (1951) Dir. George Stevens


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