Love this film festival. Tomorrow night, I'm joining friends to see Pitfall with Dick Powell, Lizabeth Scott, Jane Wyatt and Raymond Burr and Larceny with John Payne, Joan Caulfield, Dan Duryea and Shelley Winters. Both are written by Bill Bowers, although he's uncredited for Pitfall.
André de Toth, director of Pitfall was married to Veronica Lake, Oh... and six other women. Born in Hungary, he bummed out his dad, a former hussar, by refusing to serve in the military and instead displayed an interest in art, writing and film. He held his first art show when he was a teen and produced his first play at 18. Much later, he served as a consultant on Lawrence of Arabia!
This is interesting... in 1953, he directed House of Wax, a 3-D version of Mystery of the Wax Museum. But, he couldn't actually enjoy the 3-D aspect of the film as he had only one eye. Guess he lost it in some childhood shenanigans. Oh, those kids! Reminds me of riding our wagons down the hill at Gram's house. We were only allowed to go down the first hill; the second was forbidden, because, well... you'd end up in the middle of San Miguel Canyon Road. I mean, it wasn't a freeway or anything, but it was the busiest road around. You'd try to stop, but it was impossible; the hill was too steep. I only did it once and I actually flung myself out of the wagon to avoid hurtling into traffic. Of course, the wagon made it through just dandy. Figures, doesn't it? It was a red wagon, too. They're the worst. That crap never happened in the turquoise wagon. Turquoise. Who the hell paints a wagon turquoise?!
Got a little side-tracked there. Anyway, this is a wonderful description of de Toth's noir style: "De Toth had one of the bleakest and hardest of all noir styles and he's especially good with ambivalent heroes and psychopathic villains." -film critic Michael Wilmington.
Interesting quote from de Toth: "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."
He died in 2002. Find out more in this terrific obit from the Guardian, including some of his crazy adventures, like being mistaken for dead during a student riot in Vienna... damn, I hate it when I wake up in the morgue!
I must end on this hilarious comment he made in 1994 about younger directors: "I wouldn't let them direct the goddamn traffic."
Kinda weird that he was married to Veronica, who was famous for her peek-a-boo hairstyle.