The Prowler (1951) Voyeuristic Creepy Sexual Tension Noir Drama

The Prowler (1951) Evelyn Keyes Van Heflin Joseph Losey noir poster

The Prowler has been sat, patiently waiting for me to get on with it. Nearly started it a few times but knew I was really going to enjoy this one, so I was happy to wait till it was the perfect time. Knowing it was directed by Joseph Losey, who hits more times than not and being even more psyched by the two stars, Evelyn Keyes and Van Heflin.

Evelyn Keyes helped push 99 River Street to top of the class for me, with her stellar performance as cabbie John Payne’s thespian friend. And Van Heflin’s talent, delivered a vulnerable former army officer being chased down by terminator like, Robert Ryan, in the superb Act Of Violence. Yep it’s an understatement to say I was very excited to watch The Prowler.

The Prowler (1951) Evelyn Keyes be seeing you susan radio

Evelyn plays Susan Gilvray a young lonely housewife, living alone as her husband works the nightshift, spinning tunes and chatting the late hours away on the airwaves of the local radio station. Susan is pretty carefree, quite happy to bathe with the curtains open, so the breeze will cool her down in the summer night. Her actions unfortunately bring some undesirable attention in the form of a peeping tom, a prowler in the back garden, seeking a free, voyeuristic look.

Tagline – Watch out for THE PROWLER

The Prowler (1951) Evelyn Keyes peeping tom voyeur bathroom window

With a scream, the weirdo makes a run for it and a phone call later, the police are searching the property. One older, getting ready for retirement, officer Bud Crocker (John Maxwell) and his younger partner, officer Webb Garwood (Van Heflin). Both aren’t practically pleased with Susan actions, where they basically accuse her of bringing the unwanted admirer on herself.

Bud Crocker – “From now on if I was you I’d keep the curtain closed! You ever notice in a bank they always keep the counting room out of sight, so the customers won’t get tempted!”

The Prowler (1951) Evelyn Keyes Van Heflin John Maxwell police officersThe Prowler (1951) Van Heflin John Maxwell police officers in court

After the two policemen leave, officer Webb decides to return to check up on the pretty lady, besides he thinks he knows her from school days. Webb comes across pushy and quite rude, where Susan can filp between feisty, then innocent, before feeling guilty as her husband talks away in the background as the radio plays. Nothing is quite the passion killer, as his voice always signs of with “I Will Be Seeing You, Susan” before he makes his way home.

The Prowler (1951) Evelyn Keyes Van Heflin investigating peeping tom 2

With a title like The Prowler and the nature of most noir dramas, you know things aren’t going to go as easy as they could. The pleasure of these old films is working out how far they will take the story, which way will they turn as the mystery of the thriller starts to pan out.

Well I kept second guessing this one but it didn’t go as imagined. I had three possible twists in mind for where I had expected they would take the story but none came. One of them even started but fizzled out, maybe a red herring. Now don’t get me wrong, this is a brilliant little film but dare I say I was little let down by it. The story just didn’t have that kick I had hoped for, though I do blame myself for getting way overhyped.

This is still a dark story with excellent performances. It’s just, I felt a few plot holes took the sting out of it’s tail and the darker twists I was trying to second guess in the plot might of worked better! Laugh at me trying to punch up Hugo Butler’s and Dalton Trumbo’s screenplay from 67 years ago hehe. (Happy to chat about the possible twists that could of been in the comments section if you have seen the film).

The Prowler (1951) Evelyn Keyes Van Heflin John Maxwell police officers cop carThe Prowler (1951) Evelyn Keyes Van Heflin investigating peeping tom

Still an outstanding film, filled with oncoming dread and tons of sexual creepiness that gets right under the skin. It’s scandalous and disturbing nature must of been noted and talked about at the time.

Have you seen this one before? If you wish to let me know what you thought, feel free to comment away. Not sure what film I will post next, if you interested, pop on back in a few days. Wishing you all the best, thanks for reading my ramblings…… Mikey Wolf

8 thoughts on “The Prowler (1951) Voyeuristic Creepy Sexual Tension Noir Drama

  1. I haven’t seen this one, but will definitely keep my eye out for it! I’m already trying to imagine what the twist was myself and I haven’t even seen it yet!

    Liked by 1 person

    • hehe yeah it can add some extra fun trying to preempt some of these old thrillers. They never stop surprising me how far they can sometimes go! A lot are still shocking even when they are over 60/70 plus years old!!!!. Amazing…. Hope you enjoy this one if you get to see it. All the best… Mikey

      Liked by 1 person

    • Spoiler alert if people reading haven’t seen it!!
      Don’t get me wrong, I really loved it, a strong 8/10 from me but I had visions of something a tad different in mind.
      I didn’t completely dig the desert bit at the end and the court bit didn’t run true to me but damn fine performances and edge of seat flirty sleaze.
      The ideas of twists my mind was ticking away with consisted of 1) Van starts prowling over other women, they do hint at this whilst in the hotel as he eyes up the lady guest and goes through the login book, red herring maybe or change of script! 2) my early thoughts were Evelyn turning the tables on the prowler, teasing him until he kills her husband so she can get the will. 3) Another thought was the radio DJ wasn’t real and she was just a psycho listening to his old recordings and Van soons realises she’s madder than him lol. Even a 4th ran through my head, that there actually was a prowler and it wasn’t Van, you just think it’s him, maybe his partner!

      I don’t normally try and second guess too much but I did find it fun trying to preempt it. I think I was hoping for a more feisty Evelyn, as she sure showed a lot of different quirks at the beginning and ended up being a victim. After seeing the strong lady she was in 99 River Street.
      That’s the beauty of film which makes it’s so fascinating and exciting 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  2. It’s been quite a few years since I last watched this one, so I don’t remember much about the story, but I do remember feeling the same way about it that you did: there was a ‘kick’ I was expecting that wasn’t there. With a noir titled ‘The Prowler’, maybe I over-hyped it to myself beforehand as well. I’ll have to give it another try sometime, especially since I own it!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Glad I wasn’t the only one, though it was still an amazing suspenseful picture with two superb leads. Dare I say it felt like it lost itself at the end. But jezz there was some mighty fine tension and performances, I really liked the film a helluva lot, just didn’t smash that sledgehammer down on the pad to ring the bell. Cheers Todd.


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