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Joseph Losey, 1951
USA | Format: 35mm | 92 minutes
Per Manny Farber, who picked it as one of the best films of 1951,The Prowler is “a tabloid melodrama of sex and avarice in suburbia, out of [James M.] Cain by Joe Losey, featuring almost perfect acting by Evelyn Keyes as a hot, dumb, average American babe who, finding the attentions of her disc-jockey husband beginning to pall, takes up with an amoral rookie cop (nicely hammed up by Van Heflin).” Factor in a generous life insurance policy on the husband and, well, you get the idea. All that's left to add is that Losey gets a visual lock on the world of the California bourgeoisie with the help of his cinematographer Arthur Miller. Partly ghostwritten by soon-to-be-blacklisted Dalton Trumbo, The Prowler is presented here in a beautiful new restoration by the UCLA Film and Television Archive and the Film Noir Foundation.
“I had just seen two early plays by Bertolt Brecht when I encountered another small B-noir, The Prowler by Joseph Losey, whose name at that time was obscure. I was fascinated by the rare complex psychology of the main character and its social and political implications, not to mention the clairvoyance of a sort of directorial science at work. It made me also feel the urgent necessity to fight for artists to be ranked by the level of their talent, not by trendy fake values.”—Pierre Rissient
Images courtesy of UNITED ARTISTS / THE KOBAL COLLECTION