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The Prowler

The Prowler(1951)

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FULL SYNOPSIS

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One evening policemen Bud Crocker and Webb Garwood arrive at 1918 Orchid, Los Angeles, to follow up on the report of a prowler. The older, friendly Bud advises house owner and beautiful blonde Susan Gilvray to be careful but later that evening his partner, the younger flirtatious Webb, returns for a check-up call. While Susan and Webb listen to the radio and visit over coffee, Susan explains that she is alone because her wealthy, middle-aged husband John is the late night-disc jockey on the radio. Susan recognizes Webb as a once-famous high school basketball player from Indiana, where she grew up. Webb bitterly recounts his bad breaks since high school, but shares his dream of owning a motel court. Webb returns another evening to visit, and when he asks for a cigarette, Susan explains that her husband keeps both the cigarettes and her locked up. When Webb jimmies the desk drawer lock to retrieve a pack of cigarettes, he spies John's will and surreptitiously reads it. Webb grills Susan about the marriage, and she reluctantly answers that though John provides for her, he has not provided what she really wanted, a baby. Webb makes aggressive advances toward Susan, then one evening, using more subtle moves, finally seduces her, and an affair begins. As the affair develops, Webb threatens to leave Susan if she does not join him on his two-week vacation to Las Vegas. The next evening in Las Vegas, when Susan does not arrive on the appointed flight, Webb returns to Susan's house, where she explains that her husband suspects her of being unfaithful and has threatened to kill her. Webb leaves and after days of pining for him, Susan finally arrives late one night at his hotel room and admits that she asked John for a divorce. Webb coldly cuts the relationship off, and Susan agrees "the quicker the cut the less it hurts" and leaves. Back on the job after his vacation, Webb pretends to be an intruder at Susan's house one night and then returns later to answer the report of a prowler. John comes out of the house with a gun drawn, and Webb, spying him from behind a bush, shoots him in cold blood. At the trial, both Webb and Susan testify that they have not met each other before. Webb claims the shooting was a grave mistake and is acquitted. Later Webb cunningly tries to restore his relationship with Susan by asking gullible William Gilvray, John's brother, to intercede on his behalf and give Webb's life savings of $700 to Susan to help her out. William assures Webb that the money is not needed, and adds that John was not the best husband as he could not provide Susan with a child. Later at Susan's, Webb tells her he has left the police force and given up his gun because of the accident. Vulnerable and confused, Susan is more upset about her adulterous behavior than her husband's death. Webb says he would have killed her husband if it was the only way for them to be together, but begs her to believe it was an accident. She agrees that it was and they embrace. Soon after, the two marry and leave for their new home, a successful Las Vegas motel court that they now own. On the eve of their arrival, Susan happily announces that she is four months pregnant, but Webb is visibly perturbed, as the child is not John's and will reveal that they had slept together long before the trial. To avoid the publicity Webb takes Susan to the ghost town of Calico to have the baby in the utmost secrecy. One evening, as her labor pains begin, Susan becomes despondent upon hearing a recording of her husband's program. Webb leaves with a gun and forces kind Dr. James from a neighboring town to accompany him to Calico. James delivers a healthy baby girl, but then flees with the baby. Susan viciously accuses Webb of murdering her husband and premeditating the murder of the doctor. Furious that his plans are crumbling, Webb blurts that "some do it for a million, some do it for $62,000," the exact amount of John's bequeathal. After Susan's fears are confirmed, Webb frantically drives away to kill the doctor. Police cars approach, however, and Webb speeds back to the house, ditches the car and clambers up a dirt incline in an effort to escape. Two officers shoot him dead and Webb falls, rolling to the bottom of the incline as Susan looks on through a house window.