Sunday, November 9, 2014

The Prowler (1951)
The Prowler (1951) Poster

**** out of 5

"I'll be seeing you, Susan!"

This film has a good rep in the world of Noir Fandom (it's a small world, sadly), and with good reason.  It's *very* noir. But simultaneously with its being very quintessential noir, it is very unique, in the ways it turns noir tropes on their head.  The Femme Fatale is an Homme Fatale.  The  entire last act takes place in outdoors, far from the city, mostly in daylight. And unlike many noirs, it doesn't glamorize marital infidelity, but shows it in all its unpleasant horror.
Van Heflin is one of the ultimate cinematic creeps (at least up to that time), and Evelyn Keyes the beautiful, neglected housewife he seduces and whose husband he kills to have her for himself.  
Blacklisted writer Dalton Trumbo created the script without credit, and it shows.  Not only is it very well-written but it is very red-leaning, as it seeks to subvert western ideals like the cop being the good guy, and arguing against the capitalist notion that, as one character repeatedly intones over the radio, "the cost of living is going down!"  Right or wrong, the attitudes of this film certainly reflect the disillusionment of its time, and continues to accurately depict the depravity of the human heart, and the deadly results of allowing that depravity to prevail.

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