Nora Prentiss (1947)

Genres - Drama  |   Sub-Genres - Film Noir, Melodrama  |   Release Date - Feb 21, 1947 (USA - Unknown)  |   Run Time - 111 min.  |   Countries - United States  |   MPAA Rating - NR
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Review by Craig Butler

Nora Prentiss is lucky to have Ann Sheridan in the title role; it would have been even luckier if the title character were actually the focal point of the movie. Unfortunately, despite its title, Prentiss is really about Dr. Richard Talbot. While Nora has a large role and crucial role in the film, it's one that is more reactive than proactive; the story is really all about Talbot. This would be a small matter, of course, if the actor playing Talbot wasn't Kent Smith. But it is Smith, and he simply doesn't have the shoulders to carry a movie such as this; fine in smaller parts or in leads that don't demand too much from him, Smith is essentially a wimpy actor. He can play a nice guy like Talbot, but he can't really convincingly dig down deep into his psyche and offer us the tortured, obsessed man that the screenplay insists is there underneath. To be fair, the writers don't give him much to work with; things tend to happen because it serves the plot, not because the writers develop the characters to convincingly contain interesting contradictions. Sheridan, the eternal "oomph" girl, doesn't let the lack of good material bother her; she takes the dross that is offered her and turns it into something pretty close to gold. It's a commanding performance, and has the power that Smith's lacks. There's also very good support from Robert Alda and Rosemary de Camp, which helps to offset the bland one from Bruce Bennett. Vincent Sherman's direction is uneven, though generally fine; much better is James Wong Howe's wonderfully evocative cinematography.