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Joseph Losey: Pictures of Provocation

Friday, April 16, 2010
9:10 p.m. The Prowler
Joseph Losey (U.S., 1951)

Restored Archival Print

The noir policier formula gets turned on its head in this delicious tale of a frustrated bad lieutenant, Webb Garwood (Van Heflin), who answers a prowler call in a tony L.A. suburb and can’t resist cozying up to the lonely and wealthy housewife he finds there. Evelyn Keyes’s Susan Gilvray is the childless wife, yearning for something the oily Garwood is all too happy to supply, even as he morphs effortlessly from protector to predator, all the while obsessed with the upward mobility just out of his working-stiff grasp. Susan’s radio DJ husband may be physically absent, but he is a constant presence on the living-room radio as Garwood schemes his way towards a life of plenty. Blacklisted Dalton Trumbo cowrote the script without screen credit, but he and Losey got the last laugh by casting Trumbo as the Big Brother–esque radio voice of Mr. Gilvray.

—Peter Conheim

• Written by Hugo Butler, Dalton Trumbo, from a story by Robert Thoeren and Hans Wilhelm. Photographed by Arthur Miller. With Van Heflin, Evelyn Keyes, John Maxwell, Katharine Warren. (92 mins, From UCLA Film and Television Archive)

Preceded by short:
A Gun in His Hand (Joseph Losey, U.S., 1945). This Oscar-nominated short from MGM’s “Crime Does Not Pay” series knuckles up to a crooked cop who uses leaks from the precinct to guide his robbery ring. (19 mins, Courtesy Academy Film Archive)

• (Total running time: 111 mins, B&W, 35mm)