Sunday, November 03, 2019

Tonight's Movie: Pittsburgh (1942) - A Kino Lorber Blu-ray Review

PITTSBURGH (1942) is a Universal Pictures film starring Randolph Scott, Marlene Dietrich, and John Wayne. It was recently released on Blu-ray by Kino Lorber.

PITTSURGH was released in December 1942. It was a reteaming of Scott, Dietrich, and Wayne after their success in THE SPOILERS (1942), released in June 1942. I recently reviewed THE SPOILERS, which is also available from Kino Lorber.

Any film with this trio of leads is worth checking out at least once, but it must be admitted that PITTSBURGH is not of the same caliber as their earlier film. While THE SPOILERS is a rollicking good time, PITTSBURGH is a drawn-out and somewhat depressing melodrama, with Wayne's character acting like a jerk for the majority of the film's running time.

Scott and Wayne play Cash and Pittsburgh ("Pitt"), coal miners who are inspired to make something more of their lives by Josie (Dietrich), a coal miner's daughter who aspires to a better life.

The men come up with an idea for a coal business which proves successful, but Pitt quickly loses his way; despite his love for Josie, he marries Shannon Prentiss (Louise Allbritton), daughter of a wealthy man (Samuel S. Hinds) who has a big contract with his company.

Pitt is arrogant enough to think Josie will entertain having a relationship with him despite his marriage, but she's over and done with him and starts realizing the virtues of straight arrow Cash -- especially as Pitt continues to demonstrate a lack of loyalty to the friends and business contacts who helped make him a success.

As was the case with THE SPOILERS, Wayne is billed third but is the center of the movie; if only his character were as likeable in this film! The story's saving grace is that thanks to an introduction in which the contributions of Cash and Pitt's business to the war effort are celebrated, we know that Cash will eventually get his head back on straight, but it's simply not very pleasant watching him mistreat people for a majority of the film's 92-minute running time, and it's a poor use of such an appealing actor.

Whereas Scott was the villain of THE SPOILERS, here he's the honest guy who gets the girl -- and also takes on Wayne in a whale of a fistfight. Dietrich's Josie is pleasant but it's a less memorable character than her role in THE SPOILERS.

I did like the way the war effort was used as a dramatic device late in the film to move the story and Pitt's redemption forward, but prior to that the film is close to being sunk by its tiresome story. The movie is worth seeing for Wayne and Scott completists -- I consider myself one -- but of this cast's two films together in 1942, it's THE SPOILERS which will draw me for repeat visits.

PITTSBURGH was directed by Lewis Seiler and filmed in black and white by Robert De Grasse. Several writers worked on the script, including Tom Reed, who cowrote THE SPOILERS (1942).

The supporting cast includes Thomas Gomez, Frank Craven, Shemp Howard, Paul Fix, and Nestor Paiva.

The Kino Lorber Blu-ray is a good-looking print, as always, with a strong soundtrack. The extras on this Blu-ray are the movie's trailer and a gallery of seven additional films available from Kino Lorber starring Wayne, Scott, or Dietrich.

Thanks to Kino Lorber for providing a review copy of this Blu-ray.


Blogger Margot Shelby said...

Can't agree with you on this one. I loved it. It was probably one of Wayne's nastiest roles, but I actually liked that he played against type.
I also liked the way the war effort was used and the scenes in the coal mines. Very well done.

6:05 AM  
Blogger Laura said...

I'm glad you enjoyed it more than I did, Margot! I liked some of the elements you mention and wish I could have liked it better overall. Would be interested how this one strikes others! A rather different film for Wayne, for sure.

Thanks for sharing your thoughts on it!

Best wishes,

7:57 AM  
Blogger barrylane said...

I love Pittsburgh, but Wayne's character never quite becomes a good guy -- in fact, he is nearly a narcissistic psychotic, even after the reunion with Cash. A genuine jerk, although with courage and energy. The film was not as well received as The Spoilers and apparently the two guys did not care for one another, but when Seven Men From Now came along, and Wayne set to be both star and producer was called by John Ford for The Searchers, you know who replaced him. So, there is a lot of fun stuff to this.

8:15 AM  
Blogger Laura said...

Very much enjoyed your take on PITTSBURGH, Barrylane. Great analysis of Wayne's character.

That is a great point mentioning that Wayne later produced one of Scott's best Westerns.

Best wishes,

2:13 PM  

Post a Comment

<< Home

Newer›  ‹Older