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Pittsburgh (1942)

aka Pittsburgh

Directed By: 
Written By:  Writer details not available
Details: 91 mins · English


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Small Charles 'Pittsburgh' Markham
Small Josie Winters
Small John 'Cash' Evans
Small J.M. 'Doc' Powers
Small Shannon Prentiss (Markham)
Small Shorty (the tailor)
Small Joe Malneck (miners union president)
Small Dr. Grazlich (Doc Powers' partner)
Small Morgan Prestiss (president, Prentiss Steel)
Small Burnside (mine operator)
No_movie_poster Johnny (miner)
No_movie_poster Mike (Markham's Butler)
Small Barney, Cafe Proprietor


No_movie_poster Lewis Seiler Director
No_movie_poster Charles K. Feldman Production
No_movie_poster Robert Fellows Production


Here John Wayne plays a coal miner with ambitions, Pittsburgh Markham. His self-confidence manifests itself in a lack of consideration for others. He's usually friendly but he makes use of people; to promote a loan, to con a new suit out of a tailor, to raise some money from a boxing match—pushing his best friend, Cash Evans (Randolph Scott) into the ring. When he meets Josie Winters (Marlene Dietrich), he starts calling her "Countess" because of the impression she makes on him, although she reveals that she comes from the same kind of humble coal-mining background as himself. Josie remains somewhat unimpressed by his big ideas but when she dares him to quit his job in the mine he does so—and tenders Cash's resignation as well.

He interests a steel mill owner in a supply of cut-price coke and, needing the steel mill owner's signature on a contract to persuade the mine-owner to supply the coke, he forges it himself. Flushed with success, he starts talking of helping to improve the lot of the men he used to work with, but his first taste of big business goes to his head. He marries the steel mill owner's daughter much to Josie's dismay but soon feels out of his depth at the wedding reception and other formal gatherings.

As Pittsburgh follows his lonely path to further heights of financial wizardry and big business success, his old ideals fall by the wayside. He puts his father-in-law out of the business and he betrays the men that he had promised to help. He even puts a stop to research into a new medicine to be developed from coal tar to relieve world suffering because it doesn't show any profit. Cash draws the line and demands to be let out of his partnership with Pittsburgh. When the men stage a revolt against Pittsburgh in the mine, he goes down to tackle them singlehanded, as bold and confident as ever, and Cash follows to intercede before trouble can break out, putting the dispute on a personal level between him and Pittsburgh and turning it into a fistfight.

This marks the turning point of Pittsburgh's career. His success goes sour, Cash abandons him, his wife walks out and Josie is badly hurt in a mine accident. He is all alone. He now goes in reverse gear and tries to win friends by putting right his past mistakes. Cash and Josie marry and Pittsburgh's business folds up under him. Only now does he feel genuinely repentant but it is too late. As World War II engages America, he goes to work for Cash's new company under an assumed name, starting at the bottom. Soon his ideas for improving output command Cash's attention and when the new employee comes to meet the boss only Josie prevents them from quarreling bitterly, giving the film a patriotic message that the important thing at this time of war is "devotion to our country." With the three united as friends again it remains for Pittsburgh to make one small assertion of his old arrogance. Given the job of production manager by Cash, he upgrades himself to being his partner.