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Sunday, February 19, 2012

The Prowler (1951)

When a lonely housewife (Evelyn Keyes) reports a prowler, one (Van Heflin) of the two policemen attending the scene becomes obsessed with her. He calculatedly plays on her loneliness (her husband works nights) and eventually seduces her. But what the woman doesn't realize is that the cop is a sociopath and nothing will stop him in getting the wife ... not even her husband. This startling, effective noir has some very minor script problems but the combined artistry of Joseph Losey's intense direction, Dalton Trumbo's detailed screenplay and Arthur Miller's (an Oscar winner for HOW GREEN WAS MY VALLEY) atmospheric B&W cinematography as well as the potent central performances of Heflin and Keyes make this a minor gem in the film noir canon. Trumbo was persona non grata at this time because of the HUAC witch hunts so the script was credited to Hugo Butler and shortly after the director Losey also fell victim to HUAC and left for England where he became one of the major directors of 1960s English cinema. Definitely one to check out. The score is by Lyn Murray (TO CATCH A THIEF) and future auteur Robert Aldrich was Losey's assistant director. With George Nader, John Maxwell, Katherine Warren, Madge Blake and Emerson Treacy.

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