“You think that’s hot? It’s hotter out there — boiling hot!”
A trio of burglars — Dan Duryea, Peter Capell, and Mickey Shaughnessy — steal a valuable necklace from a mansion that’s been cased by Duryea’s sexy young ward, Gladden (Jayne Mansfield). But when a corrupt cop (Stewart Bradley) puts the moves on lovesick Gladden in an attempt to secure the jewels for himself, Duryea and his accomplices find themselves on the lam in Atlantic City.
Director Paul Wendkos’ feature debut was this gritty noir thriller, based on a novel by David Goodis. While The Burglar is primarily notable for featuring Jayne Mansfield in one of her first screen appearances (playing a love-starved young sexpot named, of all things, Gladden), the film stands on its own as an enjoyable, tautly directed crime flick. The expertly shot and edited opening heist sequence gets things off to a rollicking start, and while the narrative occasionally meanders (particularly during the awkward flashbacks to Duryea’s past), the story remains compelling throughout. The performances are all fine, with the always “durable” Dan Duryea effective in the lead, and Peter Capell as his eager accomplice providing a nice counterpoint to Duryea’s staunch stoicism.
Redeeming Qualities and Moments:
- Dan Duryea as Nat
- Jayne Mansfield as Gladden: “Look at me — I’m a woman! I’m flesh and blood, and I got feelings!”
- Peter Capell as Baylock, the gang’s enthusiastic jewelry expert
- The tense opening heist sequence
- Atmospheric direction and editing by Wendkos
No, but it’s recommended, particularly for noir fans.