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The Prowler

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Editorial Reviews

Product Description

AVAILABLE AT LAST ON DVD! Famed director Joseph Losey's long neglected masterpiece, scripted by legendary blacklisted screenwriter Dalton Trumbo, has been restored to its original bleak splendor by the Film Noir Foundation and the UCLA Film & Television Archive. A nefarious cop stalks a lonely, repressed Los Angeles housewife and decides to win her in the traditional film noir fashion - by knocking off her husband! Bonus Features: Documentary featurette "The Cost of Living: Creating The Prowler," with James Ellroy, Christopher Trumbo, Denise Hamilton and Alan K. Rode, "Masterpiece in the Margins": Bertrand Tavernier on The Prowler, On the Prowl: Restoring The Prowler. The Film Noir Foundation and UCLA Film & Television Archive Partnership, Photo Gallery, Audio Commentary by Film Noir Expert Eddie Muller, Original Theatrical Trailer Product Specs: DVD9; Dolby Digital 2.0; RT - 92 minutes; B&W; Aspect Ratio - 1.37:1 - 4x3; Year - 1951; SRP - $19.99

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Joseph Losey's The Prowler is one of the darkest and most daring entries in the film noir pantheon, a thriller that challenges the accepted notions of not only screen morals but the very fabric of America in its gritty story of a rogue cop who brings disaster to a Los Angeles housewife. Van Heflin is the patrolman who becomes fixated on Evelyn Keyes (wife of producer Sam Spiegel's partner, John Huston) after a run-in with a peeping Tom. Greed, lust, and loneliness bind the pair together, with only Keyes's radio-personality husband (Emerson Treacy) standing in the way of their unholy union. Heflin's plot to eliminate this roadblock leads The Prowler into very unsavory territory, including sexual obsession, pregnancy out of wedlock, psychological terrorism, and finally, an inexorable dalliance with mental instability. Though The Prowler's flirtations with taboo breaking have made it a favorite among noir cognoscenti (including James Ellroy, whose hot-blooded comments are featured throughout the disc), the film's most subversive element is its looking-glass take on society as a whole; the intense pressures that come with the pursuit of the American dream produce not winners in Losey's eyes, but sociopaths who tear down everyone around them as they attempt to claw their way towards the promised Good Life. It's heady stuff, delivered in flinty visuals by blacklist victims Losey and screenwriter Dalton Trumbo, billed here as Hugo Butler, and most definitely required viewing for those with a taste for the seamier side of crime cinema. The wealth of extras on VCI's disc follow the film's resurrection from "lost" status to restoration by the UCLA Film Archive and The Film Noir Foundation; the picture's production history, which was marked by financial clashes between Trumbo and Spiegel, is also discussed by Ellroy and Trumbo's son, Christopher, among others, while director Bertrand Tavernier (The Princess of Montpensier) gives a thoughtful, largely academic take on the picture. An original trailer and glimpses of the film's racy pressbook round out the superlative presentation. --Paul Gaita


Special Features

"The Cost of Living: Creating The Prowler," with James Ellroy, Christopher Trumbo, Denise Hamilton and Alan K. Rode
"Masterpiece in the Margins": Bertrand Tavernier on The Prowler
On the Prowl: Restoring The Prowler
The Film Noir Foundation and UCLA Film & Television Archive Partnership
Photo Gallery
Audio Commentary by Film Noir Expert Eddie Muller
Original Theatrical Trailer

Product Details

  • Actors: Van Heflin, Evelyn Keyes, John Maxwell, Katherine Warren, Emerson Treacy
  • Directors: Joseph Losey
  • Format: Multiple Formats, Black & White, Dolby, Full Screen, NTSC
  • Language: English
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: NR (Not Rated)
  • Studio: VCI Entertainment
  • DVD Release Date: February 1, 2011
  • Run Time: 92 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (61 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B004C2523M
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #23,604 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

133 of 139 people found the following review helpful By Laurence Tuccori on November 16, 2010
Format: DVD
THE PROWLER is one of the best film noir you've probably never seen.
I first discovered it more than 25 years ago on late night tv in the UK (those were the days when the BBC still screened old movies) and it hooked me right away. The story of illicit passion and murder exuded an incredibly compelling sense of suffocating claustrophobia and barely suppressed tension, and that memory's stuck with me for the ensuing quarter century.
So when I was finally able to get my hands on a VHS copy my concern was that the reality wouldn't live up to the memory, and I'd be left wondering what on earth is was I ever saw in the film.
I watched THE PROWLER again last night all my worries were put to rest. This 1951 film is a five star classic.
Van Heflin stars as Webb Garwood, a police patrolman in an upscale neighborhood in Los Angeles. One night he and his dull as ditchwater partner, Bud Crocker, are called to investigate a prowler at one of the big houses on their beat. They find an attractive young woman, Susan Gilvray, home alone and Webb takes an instant liking to her. Even though she's married and initially resists his advances, Webb determines to seduce her and use her to get what he wants out of life.
Heflin's masterful performance is a major factor in this film's effectiveness. As an actor he often played characters who exuded a certain vulnerability borne of physical or moral weakness, but here he turns it into a strength. Garwood's moral compass has been so eroded by the acidic bitterness of failed dreams that he's no longer restrained by any sense of right and wrong. He targets Susan like a tiger stalking its prey. His cynical and unscrupulous manipulation of her undermines everything that his police uniform represents.
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41 of 41 people found the following review helpful By J. Lovins HALL OF FAMEVINE VOICE on January 18, 2011
Format: DVD
United Artists presents "THE PROWLER" (1951) (92 min/B&W) (Fully Restored/Dolby Digitally Remastered) -- Joseph Losey's Bourgeois noir 'The Prowler' lingers long in the memory - and remains one of the genre's most emotionally powerful installments --- As harsh and gut-wrenching as it is bold and satisfying --- With great direction and an outstanding cast that brings realism with the label of "noir".

The story goes something like this, when officer Webb Garwood (Van Heflin) investigates a wee-hours peeping-Tom call with his veteran partner Bud (John Maxwell), he finds himself drawn to the victim - attractive and vulnerable housewife Susan Gilvray (Evelyn Keyes) --- Dutiful and quietly desperate, Mrs. Gilvray spends evenings listening to her DJ husband John's late-night radio show - which he ends every night by cooing "I'll be seeing you Susan..." ---

Tense and taunt dialogue with one of his best performances by somestimes overlooked veteran actor Van Heflin.

The radio announcer heard throughout the film is actually the voice of blacklisted screenwriter Dalton Trumbo, who wrote the film under the pseudonym, Hugo Butler.

Under the production staff of:
Joseph Losey [Director]
Robert Thoeren [Story]
Hans Wilhelm [Story]
Dalton Trumbo [Screenplay]
Hugo Butler [Screenplay]
Sam Spiegel [Producer] (as S.P. Eagle)
John Huston [Producer]
Lyn Murray [Original Film Score]
Arthur C. Miller [Cinematographer]
Paul Weatherwax [Film Editor]

BIOS:
1. Joseph Losey [Director]
Date of Birth: 14 January 1909 - La Crosse, Wisconsin
Date of Death: 22 June 1984 - London, England, UK

2. Van Heflin [aka: Emmett Evan Heflin Jr.
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34 of 37 people found the following review helpful By Phillip on February 12, 2011
Format: DVD Verified Purchase
I received the DVD of The Prowler from Amazon yesterday and watched it immediately. I was blown away. This ranks in the very top tier of noirs along with Double Indemnity, Out of the Past, The Narrow Margin, and a very few others. Heflin shows again he is THE most under appreciated actor of the golden age.....his performance as a sociopathic cop is subtle and chilling.

Many thanks to the Film Noir Foundation and UCLA for recovering and restroring this lost orphan. The movie looks great, the sound is clear, and the special features are informative and interesting. The commentary by Eddie Mueller is the highlight as it is every time he does one of these.

Not to be missed.............highest praise possible.
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22 of 24 people found the following review helpful By Aldo L. Parisot on November 23, 2008
Format: DVD
I've only seen The Prowler once on tv in England, a late night screening, but I was absolutely stunned by this brilliantly crafted story of the corruption of a Los Angeles police officer. The screenplay and Losey's direction combine to retain a crucial ambiguity in the character played by Van Heflin - is he motivated by love or by money? His ultimate demise is the fulfillment of a tragic irony and embodies Trumbo and Losey's view of the destructive effect of the capitalist system on the individual caught in its entrails. This movie is critical to any serious study of Losey's career and should be available on DVD.
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Format: DVD
"The Prowler" was a film noir made in 1951, just after the peak of the style in the late 1940s, while the taste for cynical, Freudian crime films was still strong, but a 1950s sensibility was beginning to creep in. The screenplay was written by Dalton Trumbo, whose name was removed from the credits for decades due to his blacklisting for refusing to testify before the House Un-American Activities Committee about communism in Hollywood. He was one of the "Hollywood Ten". "The Prowler" may be unique among film noirs for its reversal of iconic male and female roles. It features an homme fatal and his willing victim who, in falling for his enticements, falls prey to her own foibles.

Police officers Webb Garwood (Van Heflin) and Bud Crocker (John Maxwell) investigate a report of a prowler at the home of Susan Gilvray (Evelyn Keyes), a comely housewife who stays up nights to listen to her husband's radio program. Webb thinks Susan is "quite a dish" and decides to return at the end of his shift to check up on her. The pair discover they have a connection in their youth. They become friendly. Susan's marriage is unhappy, and Webb keeps appearing on her doorstep. He's manipulative and a bit boorish. But she can't resist. Webb has bigger plans than a fling with a frustrated housewife, though. He wants her comfortable bourgeois lifestyle too.

The crime writer James Ellroy has called "The Prowler" "perv noir". Psychosexual deviance is a common theme in film noir. "The Prowler" is not the most sophisticated in that respect. Rather, it is in-your-face creepy. Webb Garwood is outrightly predatory. His motives are thinly veiled, if at all. They are the motives of a femme fatale: sex as a means to money. His name is suggestive of the Black Widow.
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