Burglar, The (1957)

“You think that’s hot? It’s hotter out there — boiling hot!”

Synopsis:
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.

Genres:

Review:
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
    Burglar Duryea
  • Jayne Mansfield as Gladden: “Look at me — I’m a woman! I’m flesh and blood, and I got feelings!”
    Burglar Mansfield
  • Peter Capell as Baylock, the gang’s enthusiastic jewelry expert
    Burglar Capell
  • The tense opening heist sequence
    Burglar Heist
  • Atmospheric direction and editing by Wendkos
    Burglar Direction

Must See?
No, but it’s recommended, particularly for noir fans.

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One Response to “Burglar, The (1957)”

  1. First viewing. I heartily agree this is not a must; can’t at all say it’s recommended.

    This is one bad movie. B-a-d.

    And not fun bad (as one might think, with Jayne Mansfield on board, who is simply wretched) but dull; as dull as dull comes.

    When great, classic heist movies exist – ‘The Asphalt Jungle’, ‘The Killing’, ‘Gun Crazy’ – and are still being made – ‘Bound’, ‘Reservoir Dogs’, ‘The Grifters’ – why mess with this low-rent wanna-be?

    There have even been better movies made from the work of writer Goodis – ‘Dark Passage’, ‘Nightfall’, ‘Shoot the Piano Player’.

    ‘The Burglar’ is best left forgotten. Poor Duryea actually looks bored (no more so than in his scenes with Mansfield – jeez, she stinks!). Martha Vickers’ performance (from her first entrance, through her endless, godawful, backstory monologue and beyond) borders on ludicrous (and, no, is still not fun). The rest of the cast…aww, skip it; my head hurts.

    Why?; this movie comes complete with the endurance test of an intrusive, almost non-stop music score that often drowns out dialogue and seems intent on driving the spectator insane.

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