Pushover (film)

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Theatrical release poster
Directed by Richard Quine
Produced by Jules Schermer
Screenplay by Roy Huggins
Based on the novels The Night Watch and Rafferty 
by Thomas Walsh
Bill S. Ballinger
Starring Fred MacMurray
Philip Carey
Kim Novak
Music by Arthur Morton
Cinematography Lester White
Edited by Jerome Thoms
Distributed by Columbia Pictures
Release dates
  • July 30, 1954 (1954-07-30) (United States)
Running time
88 minutes
Country United States
Language English
Budget $400,000[1]

Pushover is a 1954 film noir. Directed by Richard Quine, the film features Fred MacMurray, Philip Carey, and Kim Novak in her first credited role. The motion picture was adapted from two novels, The Night Watch by Thomas Walsh and Rafferty by William S. Ballinger.[2]


Honest cop Paul Sheridan (Fred MacMurray) is tasked to recover $200,000 after a bank robbery. He and other officers maintain a 24-hour surveillance on Lona McLane (Kim Novak), a girlfriend of one of the robbers.

Sheridan quickly falls in love with Lona, who, when she finds out he's a policeman, tries to persuade him to kill Harry Wheeler (Paul Richards) so the two can take off with the cash. He initially resists, but eventually agrees.

After the killing, Sheridan finds that he also has to betray fellow detective Paddy Dolan and deceive partner Rick McAllister and their boss Lieutenant Eckstrom to cover his tracks. Almost all the action takes place at night in the U-shaped apartment building where Lona and a key eyewitness, neighbor Ann Stewart, both live.



The film was known during shooting as The Killer Wore a Badge. MacMurray's fee was $75,000.[1] The outdoor scenes were filmed on the streets of Burbank, California. Prominent, is the old Magnolia Theater, on Magnoila Street. This film has a lot of good classic car shots, for those who enjoy them.


Critical response[edit]

Most critics seemed to find the film's plot similar to other film noir, with some specifically comparing it to Double Indemnity. The New York Times review pointed out, "Fred MacMurray is going through the motions of his 'Double Indemnity' role in a mild facsimile."[3]

However, Kim Novak is usually singled out as a rising photogenic star. Chicago Reader film critic Jonathan Rosenbaum wrote, "An aging cop (Fred MacMurray) falls in love with a bank robber's girlfriend (Kim Novak in her first major role, and if you're as much of a pushover for her early work as I am, you can't afford to miss this)."[4]

Film critic Craig Butler wrote, "Aficionados will doubtlessly argue whether The Pushover should be classified as film noir or merely as a suspense film, but whichever its category, this overlooked movie deserves to be better known. Not that it's a great film, for it's not—the characters don't develop fully enough, remaining just film types rather than flesh and blood people, the themes of the film are not explored deeply enough to have resonance, and there's a late development that asks the audience to change its mind about the leading lady that just doesn't work. Still, it's immensely entertaining, skillfully directed by Richard Quine with the requisite suspense trappings (and a wonderfully unsettling sense of voyeurism), and covering a lot of territory in its 88 minutes."[5]

Critic Dennis Schwartz liked the film and wrote, "Pushover covers familiar film noir territory, but does a good job of showing how easy it is to lose control of one's life when one is so vulnerable, obsessed and emotionally weak. Novak does a fine job in her first starring role as a heartless femme fatale who does have a heart after all."[6]


  1. ^ a b Charles Tranberg, Fred MacMurray: A Biography, Bear Manor Media, 2014
  2. ^ "Screenplay Info for Pushover (1954)". Turner Classic Movies (tcm.com). Retrieved 2007-12-20. 
  3. ^ http://movies.nytimes.com/movie/106924/Pushover/overview
  4. ^ Rosenbaum, Jonathan. "Pushover capsule". chicagoreader.com. Retrieved 2007-12-20. 
  5. ^ Butler, Craig. Film review, Pushover at AllMovie.
  6. ^ Schwartz, Dennis. Ozus' World Movie Reviews, film review, February 4, 2003. Last accessed: April 23, 2008.

External links[edit]