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Pitfall (1948)

Not Rated | | Crime, Film-Noir, Thriller | 24 August 1948 (USA)
1:47 | Trailer
Married insurance adjuster John Forbes falls for femme fatale Mona Stevens while her boyfriend is in jail and all suffer serious consequences as a result.


André De Toth (as Andre de Toth)


Jay Dratler (novel), Karl Kamb (screen play)





Complete credited cast:
Dick Powell ... John Forbes
Lizabeth Scott ... Mona Stevens
Jane Wyatt ... Sue Forbes
Raymond Burr ... J.B. MacDonald
John Litel ... District Attorney
Byron Barr ... Bill Smiley
Jimmy Hunt ... Tommy Forbes
Ann Doran ... Maggie
Selmer Jackson ... Ed Brawley
Margaret Wells Margaret Wells ... Terry
Dick Wessel ... Desk Sergeant (as Dick Wassel)


John Forbes is a family man who's jaded with his life, routine and job as an insurance adjuster. Life gets a little more exciting for him when he calls upon femme fatale Mona Stevens whose boyfriend has embezzled from a store insured by Forbes' company and showered her with gifts. Forbes finds Mona through MacDonald, a private detective, who freelances for the insurance company. Forbes goes to collect the ill-gotten gifts with the boyfriend in jail and Forbes falls hard for Mona and begins an affair. The problem is that MacDonald has had his eyes on Mona first and is obsessed with her. MacDonald decides to use the soon-to-be-released boyfriend to deal with Forbes and clear the field for himself. Written by Martin Lewison <lewison+@pitt.edu>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


A man can be as strong as steel...but somewhere there's a woman who'll break him! See more »


Not Rated | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

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Did You Know?


This was independently produced by Regal Films and released through United Artists. For decades, the film was rarely seen. It can be seen today through the preservation efforts of the UCLA Film and Television Archives. See more »


When Forbes is at home in bed and nursing his wounds, he asks his son why isn't he at school today, and the son answers because it is Saturday. But Mona went to work, and she also called Forbes at his job on the same day; therefore, there is a conflict sine the work week is Monday through Friday. See more »


Mona Stevens: You're funny.
John Forbes: How?
Mona Stevens: You're not at all like the man who walked in here yesterday.
John Forbes: Well, from the way you described the man who walked in here yesterday, I'd say anything was an improvement.
Mona Stevens: Maybe that's what I meant.
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Referenced in The Crooked Way (1949) See more »


Träume (Dreams): Wesendonck Lieder No.5
Music by Richard Wagner
Arranged by Louis Forbes
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User Reviews

Magnificent Film-Noir
19 September 2016 | by claudio_carvalhoSee all my reviews

In Los Angeles, the insurance executive John Forbes (Dick Powell) is a family man bored with his routine suburban life with his wife Sue (Jane Wyatt) and their son Tommy (Jimmy Hunt). When a man called Bill Smiley (Byron Barr) is arrested for embezzlement, Forbes hires the private investigator J.B. MacDonald (Raymond Burr) to find where the money is. MacDonald discovers that Smiley spent part of the money giving gifts to his girlfriend Mona Stevens (Lizabeth Scott) and becomes obsessed with her. Forbes goes to Mona's apartment to collect the gifts and he does not tell that he is married. Soon they have a brief love affair until Mona learns that his married with child. Meanwhile MacDonald unsuccessfully tries to seduce Mona that becomes friend of Forbes. When Smiley is near to be released, MacDonald poisons him against Forbes and on the day that Smiley is discharge, he gives a gun to him. What will happen to Forbes and Smiley?

"Pitfall" is a magnificent film-noir with a realistic story and well- developed characters. The direction and performances are top-notch and the cast gives credibility to the plot with excellent lines. Dick Powell and Jane Wyatt perform a mature couple that expects to supersede their problem. The gorgeous and sexy Lizabeth Scott is perfect in the role of a seductive femme-fatale. But Raymond Burr steals the show in the role of a despicable and Machiavellian villain. The open end is another plus in this great film. My vote is eight.

Title (Brazil): "Caminho da Tentação" ("Way to Temptation")

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Frequently Asked Questions

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Release Date:

24 August 1948 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Pitfall See more »


Box Office


$1,000,000 (estimated)
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Company Credits

Production Co:

Regal Films See more »
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Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

Mono (Western Electric Sound System)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
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