TCM Pick for August: Film Noir
Best thing about selecting The Prowler as my TCM film noir pick of the month? It nudged me into replacing my barely watchable VHS copy with a spanking brand-new DVD! Second best? It gave me an excuse to give a much-appreciated re-watch to this unique and first-rate example of the film noir era. Released in 1951 and starring Van Heflin and Evelyn Keyes, The Prowler airs August 6th, part of the Van Heflin spotlight during TCM’s month-long Summer Under the Stars extravaganza. (For some other excellent Heflin noir performances, I strongly urge you to catch Possessed and Act of Violence, as well as Johnny Eager, for which Heflin deservedly won an Academy Award. But I digress.)
Susan Gilvray (Evelyn Keyes), lonely wife of a nighttime radio personality, calls the cops after she spies a prowler outside of her window. One of the officers who answers the call is (love this name!) Webb Garwood (Van Heflin), who makes no secret of his instant attraction to the distressed damsel. Webb’s interest is piqued when he learns that said damsel just happens to be from the same area in Indiana from which he hails. (It’s a small world after all!) And the fact that she’s “happily” married doesn’t seem to matter – to either of them, as it turns out. But when Webb comes up with a foolproof plan to snag the girl of his dreams, it turns out to be a nightmare for all concerned – and that’s just the first half of the movie!
It’s brief, but it’s one of the steamiest scenes I can think of in all of film noir. After being rebuffed by Susan during a previous visit, Webb returns to her home to apologize for his brutish behavior. With little opposition, Webb is soon talking Susan into sharing a dance, during which he offers up a hypothetical, “what if” supposition, founded on the premise that they could have met at a school dance years earlier. Holding Susan in an embrace that is equally gentle, firm, and passion-filled, Webb murmurs in her ear what could have happened: “I’d have asked you your name and you’d have told me. I’d have told you how swell you danced. How pretty you were.” Before long, Webb is slowly, deliberately moving in for a kiss, and Susan is begging him – oh, so halfheartedly – to stop. And when the camera moves from the couple to the radio across the room – well, need I say more?
Offering up two faves again this month:
“If I was happily married to a girl like you, I wouldn’t leave you alone nights.” Webb Garwood (Van Heflin)
“You’re a real cop, aren’t you? You want everything free.” Susan Gilvray (Evelyn Keyes)
for the rest go here: