director Joseph Losey
Written by blacklisted screenwriter Dalton Trumbo (though attributed to Hugo Butler), The Prowler (1951) is a solid film noir from director Joseph Losey. Losey himself would be himself blacklisted not long after. As would Butler, as well.
Van Heflin stars as a shifty cop called in to investigate a “peeping Tom” by unfulfilled housewife Evelyn Keyes. Heflin shows up as soon as his shift ends and tries to insinuate himself with the lonely former dancer, connecting over their shared origins in Indiana.
Van Heflin sparks and fans the flames that eventually lead to murder and beyond.
The stand-out of the film is the site of the finale, the ghost town of Calico where the couple hides out to give birth in secrecy. Ghost towns were in better shape in 1951 than they are today, I reckon. Actually, the set design is really evocative, the half destroyed home in an isolated valley where the couple attempts to set up house, the flawed and ruined attempt at the American dream.
Trumbo’s voice peeks out through the radio, the disembodied husband, who returns as specter in a dramatic moment.