“Look! I don’t like to get pushed around! I don’t like people I like to be pushed around! I don’t like anybody to get pushed around!”
That was Sam Masterson, played by Van Heflin at his peak, in the noir classic The Strange Love of Martha Ivers (1946).
It’s a startling, electrifying line for a film noir, it rings out amid the corruption and murder and adultery and beatings and strong armed cops like something out of the Grapes of Wrath. You can hear Henry Fonda’s Tom Joad saying it, explaining why he has to brain the goons. You can’t here Bogie’s Rick saying it in Casablanca, not at all, not even after he shoots the Nazi. But then Heflin’s character is no hard boiled anti-hero, he’s the real thing, and he exposes the rotten heart of capitalism in Iverstown and brings it crashing down, if only because he doesn’t like anybody to get pushed around.
Saw the 1949 film noir Too Late For Tears last nite. Great LA location shots, money is the root of all evil, Dan Duryea was a drunken bum with a yellow streak down his back wide as Wilshire Boulevard, you used to be able to rent motor boats in MacArthur Park (then still Westlake Park as MacArthur was hadn’t yet faded away) and that dame Lizbeth Scott is up to no good. Also way less trees in town back then. You wonder what they did for shade. Much harder to lurk in all that sunshine. And in film noir, one lurks.
Also saw Strange Love of Martha Ivers (1946) for the zillionth time. I had a dream, a scene stealing Kirk Douglas (even more cowardly than Dan Duryea, with a yellow streak wide as the San Fernando Valley) says to quintessential everyman he man Van Heflin, and you were in it. You did not make a handsome corpse. Van Heflin was too cool to care, and Barbara Stanwyk slithered into the room, the most beautiful snake ever. No anklet tho’.