Stranger on the Prowl (1952) Poster

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A disappointing film from a great director and great actor.
brucethylacine9 March 2003
Despite a few effective moments, Muni unaccountably overplays in this film & Losey's direction is without his usual control and taste. The story, of a drifter in Italy, is incoherent and the characterisation, especially Muni's role, so scanty that it's difficult to understand motivation.
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Underrated Joseph Losey Gem
david-54616 April 2016
Warning: Spoilers
Underrated gem from blacklisted director Joseph Losey (M, The Prowler both 1951) and blacklisted writer Ben Barzman. This little seen film stars Paul Muni best known for winning an Oscar in the 1937 film The Good Earth and Tony in the original Scarface (1932).

Here Muni plays a homeless stranger looking to escape and start a new life by boarding a ship but he doesn't have the money. He tries to raise money by selling his only possession, a gun. Hungry he steals some food from a confectionery and when confronted by the shop owner accidentally kills her.

It was here that he crossed paths with a young boy Giacomo played fabulously by a young Italian lad by the name of Vittorio Manunta who only did 3 films. Giacomo had been sent by his mother to buy milk and return laundry but on the way he lost the money in a marbles game. Unable to buy the milk he steals it just before the Stranger came into the same confectionery.

The two are now on the lam and join forces with young Giacomo thinking the police are looking for him for stealing the milk. Beautifully filmed in b&w in post war Italy with gritty neo-realism amongst the bombed out ruins of a coastal Italian town in Tuscany the story is tender yet contained classic film noir elements with the accidental murder, the innocent theft and the chase. Joan Loring (The Gangster, The Verdict, The Big Night) in a bit part as a lonely woman. Worth the find. Wonderful little seen film.
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Getting darker
RNQ30 June 2014
Warning: Spoilers
The Italian title, Imbarco a mezzanotte / Shipping Out at Midnight, suggests a plot moving increasingly into the noir. Right at the beginning one learns that the character called the Stranger is unwanted in a town he has been shoved into off a boat and that he is expected to get back out of quick and pay for the privilege. Early on, we learn he has a good gun that he wants to sell. "On the Prowl" says the English title, and we might imagine a character shady from the start. But there is a noble error in casting, having Paul Muni as the actor--Pasteur, Jaurez, beacon of progressive aspiration. He limps, he shambles, bad things may happen, but we have no way of supposing this character is bad. As the film shambles toward a conclusion, yes (spoiler if you like) there is the dangerous involvement of a child. It could be like Hemingway's stories of a somewhat older Nick Adams faced with criminals. But for Muni's Stranger it is out of character.

Meanwhile, this is a brilliantly filmed take on Italian Neorealism in a town still ruined from wartime bombing.
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