Pushover (1954)


After a particularly nasty bank heist, the thief manages to evade authorities. The cops have a pretty good idea who perpetrated the robbery, but they have a hard time locating the suspect. Angry and frustrated, the Police Chief (E. G. Marshall, 12 Angry Men) assembles a surveillance team to tail the elusive criminal’s girlfriend (Kim Novak, Vertigo). The cop (Fred MacMurray, The Apartment) assigned to follow the sexy gun moll makes a huge mistake — he falls in love with the woman in question.

Reaction & Thoughts:

Directed by Richard Quine (Sex and the Single Girl) from a script written by Roy Huggins based upon two novels, The Night Watch by Thomas Walsh, and Rafferty by William S. Ballinger, Pushover is an entertaining, but derivative crime drama that somehow fails to generate much excitement. This rather obscure Columbia production plays like a poor man’s Double Indemnity (1944), with Fred MacMurray practically reprising his famous role from Billy Wilder’s 1944 masterpiece.

Huggins’s (creator of such classic TV shows as 77 Sunset Strip, The Fugitive, and The Rockford Files) screenplay doesn’t give us anything that we haven’t seen before. The film is never boring, but I’m sure most viewers will be able to predict every twist.

Pushover is also too polished and bright for my taste. Director Quine’s style is better suited for a light comedy, not a murder mystery. Lester White’s (the man responsible for shooting most of MGM’s Andy Hardy films) crispy cinematography is at odds with the grim subject matter (I like my noir grungy and dark).

Kim Novak is, however, radiant in her first starring role — you cannot take your eyes off her. It’s a passive role made interesting by Novak’s obvious star quality. E. G. Marshall is also effective as MacMurray’s “all-business” boss. Dorothy Malone (Written on the Wind) has a small, but pivotal role as Novak’s unsuspecting next door neighbor.

The cast also includes Philip Carey (Mister Roberts), and Phil Chambers (Rage at Dawn). Film debut of Allen Nourse (Odds Against Tomorrow).

Conclusions & Final Thoughts:

Pushover is not bad — it just didn’t engage me in the least. The movie is mostly for noir completists and/or Novak fans. B&W, 88 minutes, Not Rated.


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