The Burglar

Not rated yet!
Director
Paul Wendkos
Runtime
1 h 30 min
Release Date
1 June 1957
Genres
Crime, Drama
Overview
Burglar Nat Harbin (Dan Duryea) and his two associates set their sights on wealthy spiritualist Sister Sarah, who has inherited a fortune -- including a renowned emerald necklace -- from a Philadelphia financier. Using Nat's female ward, Gladden (Jayne Mansfield), to pose as an admirer and case the mansion where the woman lives, they set up a perfect break-in. Things get complicated afterwards.
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Conservative Film Buff2
Letterboxd



(Reviewers' Site/Bio)
  • The Burglar, 1957 - ★★½

    An attempt at an artsy late-period noir à la The Asphalt Jungle, but without the maturity or restraint.

    It starts strong with a newsreel that leads into a riveting burglary scene by a talented group of thieves. Then the script doesn’t know what to do with the characters for most of the movie until they find themselves at an amusement park in Atlantic City for a Hitchcockian on-location ending. Throughout, director Paul Wendkos throws every artsy noir trick in the book at us—strange angles, hard cuts, montage, black shadows, and POV filming. It’s like he watched a bunch of Orson Welles films and took notes on everything he ever did, then tried to get it all in this one picture. And it’s not a particularly noteworthy film, with the so-so acting and average characters. So the addition of all the camera shenanigans seems excessive.

    Also excessive is Sol Kaplan’s score. The music on its own is interesting; as it’s used in the film, it is distractingly over the top. Every story reveal is met with dramatic bursts of high-pitched orchestra that sound like aural stabbings. 

    Then there’s the problem of the anti-police message. The film portrays the burglars as victims—the main character is an orphan, and his accomplices are mentally troubled. From the last line of the film, you definitely know you are supposed to sympathize with them. The police, on the other hand, are treated with suspicion from the beginning. In a classic Hitchockian scenario, you feel worried that the police will catch the burglars in the the early burglary scene. You actually root for the burglars. And later, we deal with a crooked cop who is treated as a villain to the movie’s thieving heroes. Those morals feel dubious. 

    I would recommend this as an example of late-period noir and very good on-location shots. I recommend it if you’re interested interested in how Atlantic City or Philadelphia looked in the Fifties. It’s also an early film in Jayne Mansfield’s career. But the plot and script aren’t great, and the moral is suspect.

    ...
    (Review Source)
  • Columbia Noir Collection
    (”The Burglar” is briefly mentioned in this.)

    A ranking and listing of the films included in the Criterion Channel’s “Columbia Noir” collection, which launched with the service in 2019. I was surprised by how rewarding it was to watch through this whole set. Every one of them is unique, speaks to the era in different ways, and is ultimately worth watching. 

    Original description included on the channel:

    “Film noir is a genre often enhanced by the shabby, disreputable trappings of the B movie, so it’s no surprise that some of the finest noirs of the studio era were produced at the notoriously budget-conscious Columbia Pictures, which made something of a specialty of the genre during the forties, fifties, and early sixties. It was there that Gloria Grahame and Glenn Ford rose to stardom and auteurs like Fritz Lang and Jacques Tourneur realized pulp-poetry perfection in classics like THE BIG HEAT, HUMAN DESIRE, and NIGHTFALL. And it was also where lesser-known filmmakers could overcome budgetary constraints through sinister, shadow-splashed atmosphere and directorial vision in genre gems like the gothic MY NAME IS JULIA ROSS and the brutally hard-edged crime procedural THE LINEUP.”

    1. In a Lonely Place
    2. The Big Heat
    3. The Lineup
    4. Nightfall
    5. Experiment in Terror
    6. Drive a Crooked Road
    7. My Name Is Julia Ross
    8. Pushover
    9. So Dark the Night
    10. Human Desire

    ...plus 2 more. View the full list on Letterboxd.

    ...
    (Review Source)

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