Cornel Wilde/THE BIG COMBO, Dick Powell/Lizabeth Scott/PITFALL: Million Dollar Theater Film Noir Double Bill

Dick Powell, Pitfall, Andre De TothJoseph H. Lewis' The Big Combo (1955) and André De Toth's Pitfall (1948, right, with Dick Powell) will be screened as a film noir double bill at 7:30 p.m. on Wednesday, Feb. 8, at downtown Los Angeles' historic Million Dollar Theater.

I haven't watched either movie, but the Los Angeles Times' Kenneth Turan's warns: The Big Combo's “big, dark shadows … will eat you alive.” Sounds like a must-see. Cornel Wilde stars as a cop in pursuit of crime boss Richard Conte; all the while, both cop and criminal vie for the attention of curvaceous blonde Jean Wallace, Wilde's then real-life wife. (The couple were married 1951-1981.) Also in the Big Combo cast: Robert Middleton, Brian Donlevy, Lee Van Cleef, Helen Walker, and Earl Holliman. Screenplay by Philip Yordan (House of Strangers, Detective Story, Johnny Guitar).

In Pitfall, former Warner Bros. crooner Dick Powell plays an insurance salesman who falls for sultry Lizabeth Scott, whose criminal boyfriend is behind bars. The problems are: a) private detective Raymond Burr wants Scott for himself b) Lost Horizon and Father Knows Best's Jane Wyatt is the insurance man's wife.

I remember once chatting with André De Toth at a party. He didn't say anything about Pitfall, but he did in no way uncertain terms express his disdain for Alfred Hitchcock. In the video below, he does talk about Powell's character in the film: a cheating weakling who destroys the lives of those around him. De Toth's take on the character: “The majority of people are like that. So, I just depicted it as I saw it in the life happening.” (De Toth was Hungarian.)

This film series is presented in collaboration with the UCLA Film & Television Archive and is partly supported by funds from the Hugh M. Hefner Classic American Film Program. Here's wondering when Hefner will get an Honorary Oscar for his contributions to film preservation.

Cornel Wilde/THE BIG COMBO, Dick Powell/Lizabeth Scott/PITFALL: Million Dollar Theater Film Noir Double Bill © 2004–2018 Alt Film Guide and/or author(s).
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