There were still a few surprises to come in the noir cycle (Kiss Me Deadly, The Big Combo, The Killing, Touch of Evil), but by 1954 just about every theme and plot point had already been used and recycled. Still, Pushover has its own distinctive cachet. Visually, it's a gloomy, almost Stygian piece of film, harking back to the lowest-budget releases of 1946 and 1947 like Fall Guy or The Guilty. And there's a mood of furtiveness of voyeurism that remains arresting.
For openers, we witness a bank robbery where deaths result, but the mastermind (Paul Richards) eludes the law. Next, we watch Kim Novak (in her movie debut) exiting a cinema where It Should Happen to You and The Nebraskan constitute the double bill. Deftly, she circumvents an opened ladder, but still her car won't start. Luckily Fred MacMurray happens by to proffer his assistance. Soon they're enjoying cocktails in a cozy bar and later at his place ("Suprise me," she tells him) while waiting for her auto to be delivered from an all-night shop.
Neither the pick-up nor the malfunction underneath the hood was, however, quite a matter of chance. MacMurray's a police detective, and Novak is Richards' moll. No fool she, Novak picks up on the truth but trumps his duplicity with her own: They can kill Richards and vamoose with the loot from the bank job. MacMurray, reprising the not-so-bright-as-he-thinks ladies' man from Double Indemnity, falls for the bait....
Pushover revels in its claustrophobia. Almost all the action takes place, at night, in the U-shaped apartment building where Novak lives. Across the way, the law stakes out a dark and abandoned suite where they spy on Novak through binoculars and monitor her phone calls. Another unwilling beneficiary of their surveillance, certainly without benefit of legal documents allowing it, is nurse Dorothy Malone, who's Novak's next-door neighbor and whose quest for more ice during a late-night party becomes a crucial juncture in the plot.
The well-laid plans that MacMurray and Novak follow meet, inevitably, some snags, as a result of which one of his colleagues, an honest if alcoholic cop (Allen Nourse) looking forward to his pension check, gets not-so-accidentally killed. But MacMurray, his options folding one by one, slogs along, desperately trying to play both sides of his duplicitous game....
Derivative it may be (corrupt cop, duplicitous blonde), but Pushover exemplifies the swift, hard-edged and unsentimental turn that film noir had taken during the Eisenhower Administration; it's still one of the better titles from the dwindling days of the cycle.
Crime / Drama / Film-Noir
Crime / Drama / Film-Noir
A bank heist yields $210,000. Soon, sultry Lona McLane, girlfriend of one of the robbers, meets Paul Sheridan and has a torrid affair. When she finds out Paul's a cop, to save herself she sets out to corrupt him. He's a pushover. But it won't be easy for Paul to get his hands on the money when he's part of a complex, peeping-tom stakeout. Soon, he's in much deeper than he'd planned, amid atmospheric night scenes. —Rod Crawford
Uploaded By: FREEMAN
October 05, 2021 at 12:44 AM