The Prowler (Cost of Living )


The Prowler (Cost of Living ) (1951)


Critic Consensus: No consensus yet.


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Movie Info

Webb Garwood (Van Heflin) is a cynical policeman who believes that success comes from lucky breaks. Responding to a prowler complaint at the home of Susan Gilvray (Evelyn Keyes), he is immediately attracted to her and her wealth. He returns to "check up" on Susan, and they begin an affair, conducted while listening to her husband John (Sherry Hall)'s all-night radio program. Feeling guilty, Susan ends the relationship, but Garwood remains obsessed. He pretends to be a prowler on the Gilvray property so he can respond to another police call. Drawing William outside, he shoots him and makes it appear accidental. When Garwood manipulates Susan's confusion about the shooting, she buys his story, and the lovers marry. However, upon discovering that Susan is pregnant "too soon," they flee to give birth in secret, but eventually Susan learns the devastating truth.

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Van Heflin
as Webb Garwood
Evelyn Keyes
as Susan Gilvray
Katherine Warren
as Grace Crocker
John Maxwell
as Charles 'Bud' Crocker
Emerson Treacy
as William Gilvray
Madge Blake
as Martha Gilvray
Sherry Hall
as John Gilvray
Louise Lorimer
as Motel Manager
George Nader
as Photographer
Benny Burt
as Journalist
Louise M. Bates
as Doctor's Wife
Steve Carruthers
as Mr. Talbot
Betty Jane Howarth
as Mrs. Talbot
Fred Hoose
as Foreman
Tiny Jones
as Airline Passenger
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Critic Reviews for The Prowler (Cost of Living )

All Critics (17) | Top Critics (6)

It's really a quick, deft analysis of a kind of world where corruption and easy answers are on the advance.

Jun 24, 2013 | Full Review…

The Prowler may be the creepiest of classic noirs.

Mar 16, 2010 | Full Review…

This hallucinatory film noir is still, for me, Joseph Losey's best film.

Mar 16, 2010 | Full Review…

A bawdy, daring story.

Mar 26, 2009 | Full Review…
Top Critic

Losey rises magnificently to the occasion in his use of the Mojave Desert ghost town location.

Feb 9, 2006
Time Out
Top Critic

The Prowler becomes a twisted vision of American entrepreneurship, with the two leads forming a grotesque nuclear family.

Jul 24, 2012 | Rating: 78/100 | Full Review…

Audience Reviews for The Prowler (Cost of Living )


a crazy film with van heflin in the lead, playing a creepy power abusing cop who takes advantage of a lonely married woman. he's great here and it seems a shame he was usually relegated to second banana roles. the film was made very cheaply and it's paranoid atmosphere is highly effective, ending with a big meltdown in the nevada desert

Stella Dallas
Stella Dallas

Super Reviewer


This is why Losey is one of my favorite directors.

Stefanie C
Stefanie C

Super Reviewer

Good Noir about a cop abusing his power to get what he wants. Good story and probably one of the first to deal with the "Unlawful Entry" plot that we have seen annually for the last 20 years. The story is at a good pace and very believable. It has a modern view on basketball, unhappiness with your career, and pre-marital sex. Van Heflin is great and his character is very realistic, he is bad, but not cartoonish. He does everything for love, he just approaches it all wrong. The very end is a little melodramatic, but overall a solid film. Not great, but worth a watch if you can find it.

cody franklin
cody franklin

Super Reviewer


In "The Prowler," police officers Webb Garwood(Van Heflin) and Bud Crocker(John Maxwell) respond to a call about a prowler that has been menacing Susan Gilvray(Evelyn Keyes). After being satisfied that she is safe, they leave. Later that night, Webb returns and the two find a common ground in both being from the same part of Indiana where he was a high school basketball star. Susan came west to become an actress but eventually married John Gilvray(Sherry Hall) who hosts a late night radio show, keeping her company on her sleepless nights. At first, she is resistant to Webb's rough charms but eventually agrees to meet him in Las Vegas. Director by Joseph Losey, "The Prowler" is a nifty noir film that is ahead of its time in its brief pre-credits sequence and in insinuating life beyond twin beds. In shifting gears from night to day, the movie is about two amongst many who come to Los Angeles to live a dream and end up having it unfulfilled, staying on to live a modest life. For Susan, it is life in a loveless marriage to an older man. The film looks down on Webb for hating being a policeman(This is a job you would have to love with all of its attendant hardships including long hours, low pay and the constant threat of violence.) which is a profession that provides a public service. He has larger dreams like owning his own motel on the way to Las Vegas. Like all plans, it all comes down to the details.

Walter M.
Walter M.

Super Reviewer

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