Following THE SPOILERS (also 1942), PITTSBURGH marked the second teaming of Wayne, Dietrich and Scott--a trio which left the theater audience smiling regardless of the fact that the plot was strictly run-of-the-mill. Wayne and Scott are a pair of rugged, confident coal miners who are
content with occupying their rung in the social ladder. During a boxing match Wayne and Scott take notice of Dietrich. Seated at ringside, Dietrich is dressed in high-priced attire to hide the fact that she is really a "hunky"--a person raised in a coal town. Wayne quickly falls in love with
Dietrich and begins calling her "Countess." Scott, too, falls under her spell, but both men are taken aback when she confesses that she will never marry a miner. Hoping to improve his financial and social position, Wayne enters a deal with a steel company which soon turns a profit. Greater success
follows for Wayne, who rapidly loses sight of his initial interest--winning Dietrich's affections. Instead, Wayne courts Allbritton, a steel magnate's daughter, seeing her as providing entry into high society. He gradually loses touch with Dietrich and Scott, but on the night he is to wed
Allbritton, he chases after Dietrich, explaining, "It got a bit chilly uptown. I thought I'd come down here where it's warmer." It is too late, however, and Dietrich (who has loved Wayne all along) responds by slapping him in the face. Wayne continues his climb to the top, amassing great wealth
while at the same time becoming callous. Long sympathetic to the needs of laborers, Wayne begins to turn his back on his employees, breaking several promises he had made to them. When he refuses to allow company spokesman Gomez access to the firm's books (one of his promises), the workers strike.
This is the beginning of Wayne's downhill slide. Before long his company has failed, Allbritton has said farewell, and Scott and Dietrich have turned away. While Wayne was climbing to the top, Scott formed a business partnership with Craven, as well as a romantic one with Dietrich. Paralleling
Wayne's decline is the rise of the city which shares his name, Pittsburgh--documented with newsreel footage. Broke and humbled, Wayne uses a false name and takes a job as a laborer with Scott's company. His dedication prompts his supervisor to send him to Scott for an executive postion in the
company. What nearly erupts into a violent brawl is turned into a pleasant reunion by Dietrich. In a patriotic finale, Wayne is taken on as a partner and the firm hastens its production of materials for the war effort.
PITTSBURGH amounts to little more than a standard love triangle combined with class differences and one man's rise to power (a simple, though perfectly respectable, plot line), not unlike countless other films. What makes this picture work are the superb performances by the three leads (as well as
an excellent supporting cast). The casting which proved so effective in THE SPOILERS (and, to a degree, in SEVEN SINNERS, which paired Wayne and Dietrich) again works remarkably well, providing a thoroughly enjoyable film. Substituting oil wells for coal mines in 1940, the same basic plot was used
in BOOM TOWN with Spencer Tracy and Clark Gable vying for the affections of Claudette Colbert.
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- Rating: NR
- Review: Following THE SPOILERS (also 1942), PITTSBURGH marked the second teaming of Wayne, Dietrich and Scott--a trio which left the theater audience smiling regardless of the fact that the plot was strictly run-of-the-mill. Wayne and Scott are a pair of rugged, c… (more)