Review: The Prowler


The Prowler from 1951 is a classic film noir from director Joseph Losey. This was one of Losey’s last Hollywood productions before fleeing to Britain due to being accused of Communist activity. I touched on this a bit more in my review of Time Without Pity here:

Dalton Trumbo was one of the writers on this film as well. Trumbo had his own problems with The Special Committee on Un-American Activities. This is the subject of a new film starring Bryan Cranston, a film I look forward to seeing as soon as I can.

The Prowler stars Van Heflin as a beat cop and Evelyn Keyes as a bored housewife. The movie starts with a prowler spooking Keyes’ Susan. Heflin’s Webb and his partner answer the call to investigate. Both Susan and Webb are from Indiana and have a common history, but neither seems to know the other. This is the start of, us as the audience, not trusting one or both of our characters. I have to say both actors play their roles well, we cannot get a read on either of these characters at first. Is Susan using Webb to get away from her husband? Does she know who Webb is and has always been in love with him, going all the way back to growing up in Indiana? Is she a calculating femme fatale? Webb is a cop that wishes he had Susan and her husband’s money and lifestyle. He hates being a cop and wants to get out of the job to make his mark somehow. Is he using Susan for her money? How far will he go to get it?


This film will take you on a roller coaster ride of good luck to bad timing to our character’s just digging a deeper hole all the way to the end.

James Ellroy loves this film and introduced it at screening like this”In 1951, Joseph Losey and Dalton Trumbo struck a masterpiece of sexual creepiness, institutional corruption and suffocating, ugly passion. You will need antidepressants, booze, drugs and bleak anonymous sex after you see this movie and—believe me—you are in the perfect city to find that! The great Dalton Trumbo wrote it, the great Joseph Losey directed it, Evelyn Keyes and Van Heflin in The Prowler.” I seen this on TCM and in the opening credits Ellroy was thanked for his help in getting this film restored.

This is a very good noir that every film noir fan should see. Enjoy the ride all the way to the bitter end.


Favorite Tidbit: Even though Dalton Trumbo was already on the Blacklist at this point, he wrote the story under the pseudonym, Hugo Butler. He is also the voice on the radio (Susan’s Husband) through out the film.

Review: 99 River Street

99 River Street is a classic film noir for 1953 and is directed by Phil Karlson. This is the story of a taxi driver having one pretty bad day. We get adultery, jewel theft, and murder in this single night of noir. Lets not forget our main character gets punk’d before Ashton Kutcher was a glimmer in his dad’s eye.

John Payne plays Ernie Driscoll our taxi driver, but he isn’t our average taxi driver. Driscoll was also a pretty good boxer. He damaged his eye in the ring and had to give up his boxing career. Peggie Castle plays Driscoll’s wife and was used to the high life when her husband was a boxer. Now that he is just a cab driver, her eye begins to wander. Our couple has a bit of an argument before Driscoll goes out to work for the night. He goes to his local hang out where he meets up with broadway actress Linda James played by Evelyn Keyes. She has a shot at a big acting job and is very excited. You can see Driscoll is happy for her, but at the same time sad he missed his opportunities as a boxer. He takes her to the audition and goes to get his wife a gift to make up. At this point he see’s his wife kissing another man and drives off in a hurry. Soon Linda James comes back to the hangout looking for Driscoll for help. She has murdered the director of the play and is asking for Driscoll’s help. Our story continues from there as we find out who our hero’s wife is having an affair with. A bunch of stolen jewels go missing, more than a few people are looking for our hero for a variety of reasons.

This is a great film noir in many ways. The acting is amazing, especially Evelyn Keyes’ performance. This film seems to have not been seen by many, but really should be. If you are a noir fan, go seek this one out, you won’t be disappointed.