Created by Dwight V. Babcock and George Bricker
This time out, he’s GUS SLAVIN, an LA-based investigator for a bonding service, who’s putting the screws on war hero turned nice guy bank teller Mike Donovan (Barry Sullivan, the star of the show, playing the classic noir bonehead/doofus to perfection). Gus is convinced Donovan had something to do with a almost-fifty grand shortfall at the Hollywood bank.
And so does almost everyone else.
Donovan loses his job and his home in the burbs, but fortunately his long-suffering (and equally squeaky clean) wife Ruth (Dorothy Malone) stands by her man. Doesn’t matter though, nor does a mounting array of evidence that Mike isn’t the guy. Gus, coming on like a two-bit Javert, is convinced Mike is guilty, and is determined to take Mike down.
All the way down.
With his gruff, up yours surliness and bully-boy tactics, McGraw’s part-stalker and part-avenging angel. Self-righteous, arrogant and just plain mean, he’s one of the all-time unpleasant dicks of the genre, a circling shark determined to make Mike’s life hell until he gets a confession and the money back before his bonding company has to pay up (Eddie Muller in Dark City notes that the film was made “at the tail end of the McCarthy witch hunts”). Jammed into a tight spot, the straight-arrow sap has no choice but to find the real culprits. And just to give things a little sizzle, Mary Beth Hughes is on hand as hard-edged blonde chippie–ultimately the one who’s really pulling the strings.
We’re talking low budget B-film here, of course, and a minor noir to be sure, marred by a portentous and ill-fitting voice-over narration that wanders in and out of the film. It never quite cuts deep enough, and the la-la-la ending feels tacked on, possibly swiped from another movie, but the on-location SoCal shoot (with a surprising number of daytime shots for a noir) gives the flick a ground level rawness that really cooks.
- LOOPHOLE | Buy this DVD
(1954, Allied Artists)
80 minutes, black & white
Based on a story by Dwight V. Babcock and George Bricker
Screenplay by Warren Douglas
Directed by Harold D. Schuster
Cinematography by William Sickner
Art Direction by Dave Milton
Original music by Paul Dunlap
Associate producer: Warren Douglas
Producer: Lindsley Parsons
Starring Barry Sullivan as Mike Donovan
with Charles McGraw as GUS SLAVIN
Also starring Dorothy Malone, Don Haggerty, Don Beddoe, Joanne Jordan, Richard Reeves
- These Eyes Keep Themselves in Trouble
Bad, Bad Eyes
THE DICK OF THE DAY
- July 12, 2021
THE BOTTOM LINE: In 1954 B-noir LOOPHOLE, Charles McGraw’s a circling shark determined to bring down a nice guy bank teller accused of theft. All the way down. Even if the sap’s innocent.
Respectfully submitted by Kevin Burton Smith.