Day 22 of Noirvember: The Lesser Knowns — Pushover (1954)
Some may call Pushover a “poor man’s Double Indemnity” — and the label is understandable. Like Double Indemnity, Pushover stars Fred MacMurray as a respected professional man pulled into a web of deception and murder at the urging of a beautiful blonde. But that’s where the similarities end. In Pushover, MacMurray’s character, Paul Sheridan, is an undercover cop assigned to keep an eye on Lona McLane (don’t you love that name?), a bank robber’s galpal portrayed by Kim Novak, in her first credited role. While maintaining a round-the-clock surveillance of Lona’s actions from an apartment across the street, Paul blurs the line between his professional and personal life, and before long he’s head over heels. When his lover proposes that they kill her boyfriend and abscond with his stolen bankroll, it doesn’t take Paul long to sign on. Like many best-laid plans, though, this scheme doesn’t turn out quite as intended.
The character I like best is not one of the principals; it’s Rick McAllister (Phil Carey), Paul’s partner on the surveillance job. When we first meet him, Rick is stony and cynical — not exactly a woman-hater, but certainly not a cheerleader for the female side. In his business, he’s seen ’em all: “B-girls, hustlers, blackmailers, shoplifters, drunks. You know, I think I’d still get married if I could find a half-honest woman,” Rick says. “There must be a few around.”
As it turns out, there’s one who lives right next door to Lona — a hard-working nurse named Ann (Dorothy Malone) — and Rick can’t keep his eyes off her. Before long, Rick admits: “I wait for her to come home. I worry about her, wonder what she’s doing.” He finally comes face-to-face with Ann in a memorable meet-cute in which he plays Sir Galahad, rescuing her from the attentions of an overly amorous date. Played by the handsome and beefy Phil Carey, Rick is a hard-nosed cop on the outside, but a big ol’ teddy bear on the inside. Juxtaposed against the rather seedy goings-on involving Paul and Lona, Rick’s schoolboy crush on Ann is a sweet and welcome diversion.
In an early scene, Kim Novak emerges from a movie theater showing the 1953 western, The Nebraskan. Released by Columbia Pictures, the film stars none other than Phil Carey.
“Money isn’t dirty. Just people.” — Lona McLane
One more thing:
Check out this great post by Robby Cress over at Dear Old Hollywood, all about the L.A. locations in the film. It’s good stuff.
And join me tomorrow for Day 23 of Noirvember!