PITFALL
1948, 86 min, USA, Dir: André de Toth

Insurance agent Dick Powell, facing a midlife crisis, falls for hard-luck model Lizabeth Scott - but brutish private eye Raymond Burr already has designs on her. The men wage war for her charms … and she already has her hands full with a convict lover about to be sprung from jail. Who'll survive this guilt-sodden affair? A downbeat, compelling classic.


FOOTLIGHT PARADE
1933, Warner Bros., 104 min, USA, Dir: Lloyd Bacon

When the Depression forces a director (James Cagney) off the stage, he tries the screen, creating musical “prologues” to be staged in movie theaters before films; to land a big contract, he must mount three massive production numbers in a single night. Cagney is magnetic in a performance arguably superior to his Oscar-winning YANKEE DOODLE DANDY turn, and Joan Blondell, Ruby Keeler and Dick Powell are equally entertaining in supporting roles. This fast-paced pre-Code dazzler was named to the National Film Registry, thanks at least in part to Busby Berkeley’s spectacular dance sequences.


CHRISTMAS IN JULY
1940, Universal, 67 min, USA, Dir: Preston Sturges

Preston Sturges’ second feature as director stars Dick Powell as a humble clerk who thinks he’s won a big contest and starts spending like it’s, well, you know. Big problem: He doesn’t know he’s the victim of a practical joke. Typical madcap mayhem with Ellen Drew, Raymond Walburn, William Demarest, Franklin Pangborn and the rest of the Sturges stock company.


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