Monday, September 20, 2010

A Month of Noir Day 20 - Pushover

You have to love any film that starts fast out of the gate with an early morning bank robbery.  It's executed well, and in a nice change of pace from the modern day yelling and screaming, it's quiet.  No threats, no pleading, no playing dumb.  Just a show of a gun.  And when it looks like it's going to go over perfectly, a guard makes the mistake of trying to play hero and earns himself a bullet.

This will be a repeating motif.

From the blood to the beauty, we next meet Lona McLean, played by the lovely Kim Novak in her first film performance.  She's come out of a movie theater and attempts to go home, only her car won't start, the damsel in vehicular distress.  Enter the White Knight, Detective Paul Sheridan.  Played by lanterned jawed Fred MacMurray, he offers to help her with her vehicle.  When his efforts to start the car fail, he takes it upon himself to get the car to a mechanic, and Lona to his place.  He's a helpful man, only he's not to keen on sharing one important detail with her, that he is a cop, and that he's going to bring her boyfriend Wheeler in for the bank robbery.  If he manages to seduce her in the meantime, so be it.

But Lona's not so dumb.  She's onto his game, and has a few moves to play on  her own.  She doesn't love Wheeler, and she'd be more than happy to see him take a dirt nap, as long as they take the money.  It's Paul she wants to be with, and why shouldn't they have the money?  Paul's not so sure.

As the film progresses, the wheels in Paul's brain keep turning round and round, working out a plan, seeing all the options and angles, and before he's got a chance to reconsider, he declares he's in.  But there is one problem.  Paul and his boys are staking out Lona around the clock.  One in the window watching through binoculars, one on the phone in case it rings, and another on the streets.  Whatever she does, she'll be tailed.  And it certainly doesn't help that Paul's partner Rick McAllister (Phil Carey) has his eye on a sweet little nurse who lives next door to our blond haired bombshell.

So Paul and Lona work out a plan.  Through some deft maneuvering, Lona will get out of the apartment, Rick will follow her, and when Wheeler shows up, Paul will take care of him.

But with any good noir, problems arise, and arise often.  Suffice it to say, things go bad, and soon Paul is left feeling unsure of which side of the law he's going to fall on.  Some choices are made, and they are not always good.

Pushover is a excellent example of what a noir film is; dark, seductive, and morally ambiguous with a not so happy ending.  While it's not going to go on any top ten lists, it's an fine entry level film into the genre.  Highly enjoyable.

Rating: 4 stars out of 5

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