Review: The Prowler

prowlercolor

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:

https://everythingnoir.com/2015/11/28/review-time-without-pity/

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?

vlcsnap645929

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.

1309280_original

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.

Advertisements

Article: ‘Thief’: lost Alain Delon/Ann-Margret film noir

Here is a film I have never heard of, but since it has recently been released on DVD I will be looking for a copy soon. This is Alain Delon’s first American film and also stars Ann-Margret making for an interesting duo. Here is a full review of the newly released DVD over at ctnews.com:

‘Thief’ lost Alain Dolon Ann-Margret Film Noir

After reading Joe Meyers’ review of the DVD, I did a little more research on this film and see it also stars noir greats Van Heflin and Jack Palance. Sounds like a film I need to see soon! Who has already seen this film? What are your thoughts?

Review: Johnny Eager

047-robert-taylor-theredlist

Johnny Eager is an early film noir from 1941 and is about a recent parole that is working as a taxi driver, so we think.  Johnny is played by Robert Taylor and catches the eye of Lisabeth, a student of sociology played by noir femme fatale legend Lana Turner.  Lisabeth is the step daughter of the prosecutor that knows Johnny isn’t on the level and wants to put him back in prison.  Johnny uses people more than violence to get what he wants and doesn’t mind doing it.

Though Turner is amazing as the jolted lover and Taylor plays the dapper hood well, the stand out in this film is Van Heflin.  Heflin plays Jeff, the right hand man of Eager, but he isn’t the usual muscle, he is quite original, and in 1941 there wasn’t many to compare him to yet. Jeff is a well-educated man who uses big words and quotes great literature, his one weakness is he has a problem with alcohol.  Jeff is Johnny’s conscience as well in this film, telling him when he is doing wrong by others or making the wrong decisions.  To bad Johnny never learns or listens to Jeff, Johnny always thinks he’s the smartest man in the room, but sometimes he isn’t.

ssheflin1

Van Heflin won best supporting actor for this portrayal and I can see why.  This classic film noir is not widely watched with only 1500 votes on IMDb and a good rating of 7.1 and no Rotten Tomatoes score.  This is a good film on its own, but if you’re a noir lover, I think you will really like the plot and Van Heflin and Lana Turner and worth the viewing.

johnny_eager_xlg