Prowler, The (1951)

“If you were just a dame, Susan, it’d be different. But you’re special.”

Synopsis:
A cynical cop (Van Heflin) falls for a wealthy woman (Evelyn Keyes) he meets on a house call, and concocts a plan to “accidentally” shoot her husband so they can get married. After Heflin is declared innocent in court, he and Keyes are married, with nobody suspecting that they previously had an affair — but things become more complicated when Keyes reveals that she’s four months pregnant, and clearly not with her first husband’s child…

Genres:

Review:
This punchy thriller by director Joseph Losey offers an enjoyable twist on the traditional noir storyline, with Heflin perfectly cast as a deviously womanizing scoundrel (an “homme fatale”) who nonetheless isn’t all bad inside, and Evelyn Keyes equally effective as a lonely wife who allows herself to be taken in (against her better judgment) by Heflin’s advances. The plot takes several satisfying twists, with Keyes’ “predicament” particularly unexpected and shocking — the fact that this “sin” is named out loud in an early-’50s film tells us that someone will be paying for their transgression against society — though it’s not clear who, or how.

Redeeming Qualities and Moments:

  • Van Heflin as Webb Garwood
    Prowler Heflin
  • Evelyn Keyes as Susan Gilvray
    Prowler Keyes
  • Arthur Miller’s cinematography
    Prowler Cinematography
  • A satisfying “homme fatale” storyline
    Prowler Tale

Must See?
Yes, as an all-around good show by Losey.

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One Response to “Prowler, The (1951)”

  1. First viewing. A must. One wacky flick!

    And ‘comfortably’ in the company of the-less-you-know-about-it-the-better films.

    I love the expression ‘homme fatale’ – had never heard that before, and that sums up just how unique ‘The Prowler’ (a great title) is.

    A few things, though:

    The film does sneak up on you. It may, at first, seem somewhat pedestrian in its first few sequences – filmed in a rather flat manner, almost like an early tv drama.

    But you may soon notice something about the male and female leads: you may wonder which one exactly has toys in the attic.

    At that point, though, it hardly matters – cause then we’re on to larger issues: where will this possibly go, and how will it possibly end?

    The mechanics of the story will leave few clues.

    Bravo, Heflin (perfectly named ‘Webb’); Brava, Keyes; and good show, (writers, including Dalton Trumbo, and) Losey!

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