The Prowler (1951)

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When Susan Gilvray reports a prowler outside her house police officer Webb Garwood investigates and sparks fly. If only her husband wasn't in the way.



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Complete credited cast:
John Maxwell ...
Katherine Warren ...
Grace Crocker (as Katharine Warren)
Emerson Treacy ...
Madge Blake ...
Wheaton Chambers ...
Dr. William R. James
Robert Osterloh ...
Sherry Hall ...
Louise Lorimer ...
Motel Manager


In a fancy suburb in California, the gorgeous housewife Susan Gilvray finds a prowler outside her house late one night and she calls the police. Officer Webb Garwood and his partner answer the call but do not find anyone. Later Webb returns to Susan's house with the pretext of checking if everything is OK. Susan invites him in to have coffee with her. Webb soon learns that Susan is married to John Gilvray, a middle-aged broadcaster of a late night radio show. They also discover that they are from the same hometown. Webb makes a pass at Susan and even though she tries to put him off they soon start a love affair. When John becomes suspicious Susan ends her relationship with Webb. Though difficult Webb stays away from Susan. Without Susan's knowledge Webb plots a scheme to get rid of John; he simulates a scenario where John is "accidently" shot dead. There is an inquest and it is ruled that John Gilvray's death was not intentional. Webb quits the police-force a job he was never happy ... Written by Claudio Carvalho, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


She had to keep THE PROWLER from telling... See more »


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Release Date:

3 December 1951 (Sweden)  »

Also Known As:

Cost of Living  »

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Technical Specs

Sound Mix:

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
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Did You Know?


Webb's partner speculates that Susan's house would cost "35 or 40 grand in this market". That would equate to about $320,000 to $366,000 in 2015. See more »


When Webb returns to his car after peeking in the window of the second building in the ghost town he walks across an existing set of tire tracks. How can there be other tire tracks if no one else has been there for many months? See more »


Webb Garwood: I didn't do it Susan. I ll swear that by the only thing I ever really loved, and that's you.
See more »


Referenced in Maltin on Movies: Unknown & Cedar Rapids (2011) See more »


Lyrics by Dick Mack
Music by Lyn Murray
Sung by Robert Carroll (as Bob Carroll)
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User Reviews

This gris world is pure noir
9 May 2008 | by (NYC suburbs) – See all my reviews

Patrolman Webb Garwood (Van Heflin), called to the upscale home of a late night radio DJ to investigate a reported prowler, covets the man's wife (Evelyn Keyes) and lifestyle and proceeds, through seduction, manipulation, and murder, to attain them with ironic results...

Alain Silver, in his "Film Noir: An Encyclopedic Reference To The American Style", notes that "like most of Losey's American films, THE PROWLER is concerned with complex social issues, which make it marginal to the film noir series." I couldn't agree more that using Film Noir to enlighten dilutes the dark universe the cycle represents but in this case that's a moot point. THE PROWLER doesn't examine social issues, complex or otherwise, and isn't an indictment of America in the mid-twentieth century as much as it is an expose of modern life itself with all its banality and dull aspiration. Better yet, there are no explanations, causes, or, thankfully, remedies offered for the ultimately empty American Dream. Existentially, there's no escape for the outwardly normal anti-hero who is, ironically, a psychopath sworn to "protect and serve" the very ideals he doesn't share. Lonely housewives in unhappy marriages, failed dreams of stardom and college scholarships, soulless ambition for mediocre achievement hidden beneath deceptive outward appearances, and hopes for a future (linked to a motor court) that isn't much better than the past or present all serve to point up the futility of upward mobility. In a bitter irony, Garwood has perverted the American dream but, once attained, that very dream becomes inverted and its ultimate reward (creating a family) proves his undoing. That the birth takes place in a desert ghost town perfectly illustrates a wasteland where everyone is either unfeeling, unsuspecting or dull-witted ...and everything's nothing, really. In its depiction of a monotonous, gray world, THE PROWLER is pure Film Noir and Joseph Losey skillfully conveyed the often pervasive sense of dissatisfaction and ennui with bourgeoisie life but, because of his off screen politics, the film was unfairly tarred with the same brush that derailed the director's career in Hollywood.

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