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Saturday, January 18, 2014

Loophole (1954)

At the end of his Friday workday, a bank teller (Barry Sullivan) finds himself short almost 50,000 dollars. An error in judgment causes him not to report the shortage until the following Monday morning. That error in judgment makes him a prime suspect in embezzling the money and when the bonding company refuses to bond him, he is fired. Convinced he stole the money, an insurance investigator (Charles McGraw) begins stalking and harassing him. Though the plot may sound like an updating of LES MISERABLES, this "B" crime film is more akin to Chandler than Victor Hugo. Its story of an innocent man who finds his life turned upside down because of a lapse in judgment is strong enough to keep one engrossed though the protagonist's own stupidity renders him somewhat unsympathetic in the end. Thankfully, bank security is now sophisticated enough to prevent such an occurrence today. Its low budget B&W, shot on location look gives it a raw realism it would have lacked with a more polished studio finish. Sadly, the final 20 minutes are rather messy and deflate the tension that the film's first hour carefully built up. Directed by Harold D. Schuster. With Dorothy Malone, wasted as Sullivan's wife, but Mary Beth Hughes makes for an excellent hard as nails femme fatale and Don Haggerty, Don Beddoe, Joanne Jordan and Richard Reeves.

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