My second tribute to Joseph Losey, following hot on the heels of M (which was actually shot afterwards) is the director's own favorite among his Hollywood work and also crime novelist James (L.A. CONFIDENTIAL) Ellroy's all-time favorite film! Van Heflin has one of his best-ever roles as the embittered cop who forces himself onto lonely housewife Evelyn Keyes and eventually contrives to shoot her night-time radio personality husband in self-defense. As a matter of fact, for its first half, THE PROWLER (a clever misnomer of a title and decidedly no relation to the 1981 Joseph Zito exploitation flick) plays almost like a role-reversal rehash of DOUBLE INDEMNITY (1944) but Losey admirably turns the whole thing on its head with the climactic ghost town section. Indeed, the surfeit of chatter and intermittently disjointed editing of the film's first half hardly prepare one for that extraordinary high-pitched finale which already serves to crystallize Losey's uniquely nihilistic world-view so early in his career. Being another film of the director's that is very hard to come by, I guess one has to feel glad that, following a very hazy start, the copy I got my hands on settled nicely into a much more satisfactory viewing experience than M. Similar to that later film, the crew of THE PROWLER is made up of some notable names: Robert Aldrich and Don Weis are once again employed in the same capacities of assistant director and script supervisor respectively – but also producer Sam Spiegel (billed, as was his current custom, under the pseudonym of S. P. Eagle) and, as screenwriters, an uncredited Dalton Trumbo and Hugo Butler – soon-to-be exiled (like Losey himself after all) for their past Communist affiliations – both of whom would go on to work with my all-time favorite film-maker Luis Bunuel on, respectively, Trumbo's own JOHNNY GOT HIS GUN (1971) and ROBINSON CRUSOE (1952) and THE YOUNG ONE (1960)
not to mention Losey's later, ambitious but ill-fated art-house venture EVA (1962)!