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Written by / 7/18/2016 / No comments / , , , , , ,

DAN DURYEA AND JAYNE MANSFIELD STEAL 'THE BURGLAR'

Dan Duryea breaks in in THE BURGLAR Year: 1957
Dan Duryea is Nat Harbin, a man with a mission… but first there’s inspiration. The film begins with a vignette of newsreels (which, taking up the entire screen, doesn't seem as such), including a piece about a rich woman/charlatan spiritualist holed up in a plush mansion. And what's this have to do with crime? Well eventually we see our title character watching from his theater seat. The only thing missing is the lightbulb flashing over his head... but his expression says it all.

The initial heist inside the mansion is right out of THE ASPHALT JUNGLE but there are fewer people involved. Nat’s partners wait outside as he does the real work, about to lift diamonds from the safe. Yet the real suspense occurs after the heist is nearly finished: Two curious policemen are standing outside Nat’s vehicle, parked across the street from the mansion. Instead of taking off, like his partners suggest, the intrepid thief strolls right up to the policeman and acts like the car had broken down. After the cops leave, Nat goes right back in to finish the job. A coolheaded pro at work.

Captures the Loneliness of Being Crooked
Describing the first part of THE BURGLAR is important to summarize the rest of the film. A mysterious person is tailing Nat and his girlfriend Gladden, played by voluptuous blonde Jayne Mansfield, the team's mansion-casing dame with a backstory with Nat, and who ain't too crazy about being holed up with his partners, one in particular...

Of the two edgy thugs bookending the coolheaded leader, Mickey Shaughnessy’s square-jawed bully Dohmer is the real treat for the genre, igniting Noir into Gangster just a bit and through all the pathos, reminding us we’re watching a bonafide crime flick: He's is as no-nonsense and ultimately lethal as this group gets, yet the quiet Nat Harbin is still in charge. Duryea, who usually played antsy characters, is remarkably subtle here – this isn’t a powerhouse performance but a foundational one.

Jayne Mansfield enters sexy in THE BURGLAR
Deep pockets of downtime occur within the mid-section, especially when Nat finds a new lady love in BIG SLEEP blonde beauty Martha Vickers and Gladden takes up with a stranger who might have something to hide, and a lethal agenda. Meanwhile Dohmer, our token wild card, holed up in the tiny house and just about ready to explode, has to weather the most annoying character...

MOVIE SCORE: ***1/2
Peter Capell's Baylock, repeating like a scratched record how much he loathes prison, does tends to overact, and yet he successfully provides an edgy third fiddle in the tight yet completely mismatched band of thieves.

As a whole, THE BURGLAR stands out from THE ASPHALT JUNGLE, THE KILLING, ARMORED CAR ROBBERY and other Heist-Noirs by use of surreal flashbacks and creative camera angles. And while the robberies are pivotal or climactic in those films, it's the springboard for this one: All leading to an inevitable showdown inside a fun house, kind of a mellow version of the famous Orson Welles LADY FROM SHANGHAI climax: Yet there are no mirrors or tricks, only Duryea, diamonds, two beautiful ladies, and a determined, desperate killer.
Mickey Shaughnessy should have done more since he's great in this, making the bad guys bad
Great Opening Credit Sequence featuring our leading crook walking outside a theater about to...
Light up a cigarette while the title, his character, is read in a cool lower case font
Jayne Mansfield as Gladden on the beach with a mysterious stranger
Martha Vickers as Della with Dan Duryea in THE BURGLAR
Though hard to find, and a bit pricey now, THE BURGLAR is terrific viewing, right Dan? 
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