Sunday, June 16, 2013

Tonight's Movie: Pushover (1954)

It's been a weekend of highly enjoyable '50s Columbia noir, starting with NIGHTFALL (1957) and then moving on to 5 AGAINST THE HOUSE (1955) and THE BROTHERS RICO (1957).

Tonight I watched PUSHOVER, a very entertaining film with brand-new star Kim Novak, billed as "Introducing..." Novak plays a femme fatale who entices a cop (Fred MacMurray) to go bad.

Novak plays Lona, a bank robber's girlfriend. She's initially contacted by Detective Paul Sheridan (MacMurray) while the police are looking for the robber, but Sheridan soon finds himself falling for Lona, hard. (Shortly after they meet he asks "Your place or mine?" and she purrs "Surprise me.") Lona suggests that when her boyfriend turns up, maybe she and Paul could take off with his bag of money themselves instead of turning it over to the police. Paul tries to put the idea out of his mind but can't resist other words, he's a PUSHOVER.

MacMurray is back in DOUBLE INDEMNITY (1944) territory as a fatalistic sap who falls so hard for a woman that he's willing to do the wrong thing, no matter how bad things get, and they get pretty bad, with a body count starting to pile up.

Things go from bad to worse for Paul when the cute nurse, Ann (Dorothy Malone), who lives next door to Lona sees Paul in the wrong place at the wrong time, endangering his entire plan.

MacMurray is convincing as the increasingly desperate and sweaty Paul, who's in deeper and deeper, as his colleagues, including Police Lt. Eckstrom (E.G. Marshall), start to grow a bit suspicious of his odd behavior. Novak is likewise perfect as the woman luring Paul to his doom.

With Lona and Paul apparently headed for the slammer, or worse, the viewer instead roots for Ann and the tall, handsome police detective Rick McAllister (Phil Carey), who comes to her rescue when she's hit on by a masher (Paul Picerni) who won't go home. Rick announces early on in the film that he'd like to get married if he can find an honest woman, and as he stakes out Lona he also can't help repeatedly noticing Ann. Rick and Ann are a cute couple; if I were Ann, I'd fall for Rick too! He gets a chance to be Ann's knight in shining armor again at film's end.

The good screenplay was by Roy Huggins of MAVERICK and THE ROCKFORD FILES fame. The movie was directed by actor-turned-director Richard Quine, with black and white cinematography by Lester White. The film runs 88 minutes.

PUSHOVER is available on DVD in the Columbia Pictures Film Noir Classics II Collection.

It also had a release on VHS.

PUSHOVER was another enjoyable movie in a very good movie viewing weekend. Recommended as solid entertainment.


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