Cash McCall (1960): Joseph Pevney’s Romantic Business Melodrama, Starring James Garner and Natalie Wood (Family, Father-Daughter)

Joseph Pevney directed and Henry Blanke produced Cash McCall, a romantic business melodrama, starring James Garner and Natalie Wood.

Grade: C+ (*1/2* out of *****)

Cash McCall
Cash Mc Call - Film Poster.jpg

The screenplay by Lenore J. Coffee and Marion Hargrove is based upon Cameron Hawley’s novel of the same name.

The film’s story concerns a wealthy entrepreneur who buys moribund businesses in order to first refurbish and then sell them at a considerable profit.

During his latest acquisition, he’s attracted to the daughter of the company’s owner (Natalie Wood), which complicates his professional and private life.

Grant Austen, the head of Austen Plastics, yearns for retirement. So when Schofield Industries, his largest customer, threatens to take its business elsewhere, Austen hires consulting firm, which finds an interested potential buyer in the notorious businessman Cash McCall.

Cash meets with Austen and daughter Lory, who owns part of the company. Austen conceals the problem he has with Schofield Industries.

It turns out they met the previous summer and were attracted to each other. However, when Lory showed up at his cabin soaking wet from summer rainstorm, Cash, not ready for serious relationship, gently turned her away. Mortified by rejection, she fled back into the storm.

Unable to get Lory out of his mind, Cash realized he had made big mistake, and overpays for Austen Plastics just in order to reconnect with her.

Before the deal is finalized, Gil Clark, Cash’s assistant, discovers that Austen Plastics holds patents essential to Schofield Industries. The alarmed boss, retired Army General Danvers, tries to buy Austen Plastics himself. Cash then decides he could run Schofield profitably and starts secretly buying up controlling interest in the second company.

Cash proposes marriage to Lory, and she accepts. However, Maude Kennard, assistant manager of the hotel where Cash resides, wants Cash for herself and tricks Lory into believing she is Cash’s girlfriend.

Meanwhile, Austen’s business acquaintances Harvey Bannon convinces him that Cash swindled him, prompting Austen to sue Cash.

In the eventual happy ending, everything is cleared up, and Cash and Lory reconcile, while Gil talks Grant into going back to work.

This was one of 3 theatrical films produced with Garner when he was still playing the lead in Warner TV series Maverick (the other were Darby’s Rangers and Up Periscope). Garner subsequently left the studio upon winning contentious lawsuit and continued his successful movie career elsewhere.

Cash McCall writer and novel best seller Marion Hargrove had also written for Garner’s Maverick series.

Garner wrote in his memoirs that he felt it was “not much of a movie, but I liked Natalie.”

The film received mixed reviews from critics, who noted that the characters were “stock and foolish,” and the plot bordering ridicule in piling up multifarious enterprises in depicting amoral escapades in the financial jungle.

James Garner as Cash McCall
Natalie Wood as Lory Austen
Nina Foch as Maude Kennard
Dean Jagger as Grant Austen
E. G. Marshall as Winston Conway
Henry Jones as Gilmore Clark
Otto Kruger as Will Atherson
Roland Winters as General Danvers
Edward Platt as Harrison Glenn, Cash’s lawyer
Edgar Stehli as Mr. Pierce
Linda Watkins as Marie Austen, Grant’s wife
Parley Baer as Harvey Bannon


Directed by Joseph Pevney
Screenplay by Lenore J. Coffee, Marion Hargrove, based on
Cash McCall 1955 novel by Cameron Hawley

Produced by Henry Blanke
Cinematography George J. Folsey
Edited by Philip W. Anderson
Music by Max Steiner
Distributed by Warner Bros.

Release dates: Jan 20, 1960 (LA); Jan 23, 1960 (USA)

Running time: 102 minutes

Box office $1,750,000 (US)

Joseph Pevney Filmography

Shakedown (1950)Undercover Girl (1950)Iron Man (1951)Air Cadet (1951)The Lady from Texas (1951)The Strange Door (1951)Meet Danny Wilson (1952)Flesh and Fury (1952)Because of You (1952)Just Across the Street (1952)Back to God’s Country (1953)It Happens Every Thursday (1953)Desert Legion (1953)Yankee Pasha (1954)3 Ring Circus (1954)Six Bridges to Cross (1955)Foxfire (1955)Female on the Beach (1955)Congo Crossing (1956)Away All Boats (1956)Istanbul (1957)Tammy and the Bachelor (1957)The Midnight Story (1957)Man of a Thousand Faces (1957)Twilight for the Gods (1958)Torpedo Run (1958)The Crowded Sky (1960)Cash McCall (1960)The Plunderers (1960)Portrait of a Mobster (1961)The Night of the Grizzly (1966)