How would you like a little film noir in your adultery?  Yes…there will be SPOILERS:

NORA PRENTISS ( I )Nora Prentiss kneels before the ashes of her dreams of  home, hearth and a husband of her own

NORA PRENTISS is really a showcase for Ann Sheridan. Director Vincent Sherman gloriously holds the camera on her many times, to which I, as a Sheridan fan say “Yay!” She’s excellent. As Nora Prentiss, she hadnt sign up for this. Shes not a bad guy; no vixen or femme fatale or Vamp. She wants to be married, have kids, live out in the open. It gets increasingly dark for her too. She soon sees hes not any closer to divorce and this is not working out for her in an open way.


The He is played by Kent Smith. At first I was upset with him, the husband character ( Dr. Richard Talbott ). I thought he was a coward. He wanted to have his cake and eat it too. I almost couldn’t believe why she even fell for him in the first place. ( Dry, boring, dull. ) But then something clicked in me. (Like first hating reading Willa Cather’s “My Antonia” and then loving reading “My Antonia” in the tenth grade). A switch flipped, a lightbulb went off and I thought “0hhhhhhh, this is a movie about what happens when a man spirals down a devastating path…” Got it. Nora is the object of affection…but the movie is about him; THAT was the examination. Like Tyrone Power in “Nightmare Alley” Kent Smith’s character reached for something, going about it the wrong way…and down down down he goes.


Dr. Talbott’s not fun-loving anymore. He has them hiding in dingy hotel rooms, not going dancing or being seen in public. He’s living like a fugitive; he is a fugitive. Kent Smith does a grand job in the movie. I feel his desperation. He’s like Ray Milland in “The Lost Weekend.” Tattered, torn, unshaven, unkempt; looking like a wild man… irrational. “Don’t leave me!”but not letting her go; making every mistake in the book to do what he has to do to keep her. Getting deeper and deeper into the mess he’s made of his life. Car crash, fire, disfigurement and a murder trial. Kent does a very good job of showing us The Descent. Isn’t that what film noir is about?

There must be something about confessing to an extra-marital fling that is a fate worse than death. In Nora Prentiss” adultery is film noir. The Husband in this drama has much in common with our boy from DETOUR”.  Neon lights, rain-soaked streets, living in the shadows. I don’t mean to constantly compare this film to other movies; it’s just that the journey, the fall is so similar. The look of this film? Awww hell… all praises belong to Master Cinematographer: JAMES WONG HOWE. ( Look him up…you’ll faint at his credits ).

NORA PRENTISS ( James Wong Howe )     James Wong Howe and Vincent Sherman

Vincent Sherman and Ann Sheridan…yeh

 Just a couple of points to get off my chest:

*  Why do Movie Wives ( Rosemary DeCamp in this case ) act like cold fish and then are surprised when their husbands lose interest and get attracted to another woman.


*  I love the montage of their affair progressing. Who knew Kent had it in him. I liked that the movie didn’t make Sheridan out to be a gold-digger.

*  I loved Robert Alda waiting in the wings for Sheridan. He plays a nice guy.  Hes on the sidelines falling for Nora as well.

*  John Ridgely is in the movie…as he is in every movie ever made in every studio ever existed.

*  Sheridan puts a lot of emotion into that second song she sings. I love her close-ups. Tears, emotion-choked voice. ( I want to believe that’s Sheridan singing. Does anyone know? )

*  And back at the ranch…Kent’s not eating…pacing around..drinking. It reminds me of Carmen Jones ( here I go again ) when Dandridge is out hotfooting it around town and Belafonte has to stay cooped up in a hotel less the MPs find him. Kent even starts to look like the Geek Tyrone Power played in “Nightmare Alley.” Kent’s downward spiral is a sad fall from grace to see. He doesn’t help keep a girl. He becomes jealous, possessive. No body signed up for this.


*  Great car crash.

*  I love 1940’s fashion. ( Whaddya want…I’m a girl ).

*  I love Rosemary DeCamp at the trial.

*  The last shot of Kent Smith in this movie is truly disturbing.

*  FRANZ WAXMANFranz Waxman’s music – dark…doleful…mournful, moving. But that music at the end of the movie is particularly poignant as she walks down the courthouse steps knowing she was leaving her love in the hands of fate. The music’s dirge-like melancholy is beautiful and creates and fits the mood of the film perfectly.

Okay ohkaaaaaaaay…so John Ridgely wasn’t in every movie ever made. But it seems so.

See the movie trailer here:


CineMoral: If you need a doctor and he says he’s married…change doctors. And fellas…if you can’t handle the Ooomph, get outta the kitchen.


(   H O M E   )




23 thoughts on “NORA PRENTISS ( 1947 )

  1. Great analysis! Love this movie! I can’t blame the doc, who can resist the allure of Ann Sheridan? No human anyway. The hard to believe part is that she hasn’t grabbed a guy yet for that house with the picket fence and kids. I can see guys lining up for that job assignment by the hundreds Other than that, no flaws in this dark gem.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hi Kevin ~ Boy you said it. I couldn’t see the beginning of the line it’d stretch so far ahead for Ann Sheridan. The good thing is she wasn’t a vamp who lured him in in this movie. He walked in willingly…and cowardly. If only he’d ask Rosemary DeCamp for a divorce… I know. The movie would be 15~mins long. I enjoyed this one. Thank you much for reading and commenting.

      Liked by 1 person

      • You’re right. you could tell he was trying to be a good boy at first but it was just too powerful for him. Of course if his wife had paid more attention to him maybe it wouldn’t have started, but then… no movie!
        I also love her in ” They drive by night ” where tough guy George Raft falls for her right away. But. once a again, in the real world she probably wouldn’t have been available so George was quite lucky to not only end up with “Cassie” but also to escape the crazy Ida Lupino!


      • Haaaaa! Why is it that wives ( and husbands ) in movies never see the signs or spend too much time paying attention to hearth and home or their job. In the movies, when the spouse says: “Honey, why don’t we go away for a nice romantic weekend…just the two of us,” and the other spouse is too busy, that’s a recipe for disaster.


    • Yes, Renhir. Well…almost yes. I’m seeing hapless Kent Smith as a bad guy of sorts. He got himself in quite a pickle trying to hold on to Ann Sheridan. She wasn’t pressuring him…or vamping him. But she was expecting their relationship to go to it’s logical 1940’s conclusion…MARRIAGE. His efforts to be with Ann leads to a false identity and oh boy. But at least our Oomph Girl wasn’t a femme fatale.


  2. Cinemaven,

    Once again, I’m struck by our similar tastes in film! I love Nora Prentiss as well, and Ann Sheridan, (who can wear a mean hat!) – and I too, was struck by how quickly ordinary, orderly Dr. Talbot falls in desperate love with Nora. Yes, that’s the story, despite the film being named “Nora Prentiss” Perhaps, a better title, “A Fool and his Honey!” I mean, did he really think he would get away with all he did to get with Nora? This is a film for a rainy afternoon. Delicious.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Hi Deborah…

      “Once again, I’m struck by our similar tastes in film!” Hahaaaa. Like~minds are geniuses I guess. 🙂 Yes, the title is more reflective of the girl the doctor falls for ( and the star who can bring in a healthy box office ) than the man who’s in trouble. I did think Kent Smith did a great job. And I’ll just watch Ann Sheridan because. Just because. I’m glad you liked the movie and came here to tell me. Thank you.

      Liked by 1 person

    • Hey Vienna…I’m not sure what could be wrong. Won’t you try again? THANKS. By the by…when I answer your comments, do you get some sort of notification that I replied? I can’t quite see what readers see.


      • We can tick box to see all subsequent comments on the post.
        I haven’t seen this film in an age, just remember the sad story of the doctor. Think I would have preferred more concentration on Sheridan and Alda. Ie a different plot!
        Always great to hear Ann singing . I never understood why she was dubbed in Shine on harvest Moon.
        Love that pic of her with Vincent Sherman.
        Wonder who the actress is with Sherman and Wong Howe. Doesn’t look like Rosemary DeCamp.
        Love your quote – “If you can’t handle the oomph…..”
        Ps Never understood the connection with The unfaithful and The Letter. If any, it’s very loose and Ann’s film could never be described as a remake.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Hello again Vienna…glad this made it through.

        You’re right, Sheridan and Alda would have made “Nora Prentiss” a different story. Alda made me nervous b’cuz I was thinking he’d be the cad he was in “THE MAN I LOVE” with Lupino. But he wasn’t. ( At least the guy waiting in the wings is not a bland Ralph Bellamy~type ).

        Who knows what studios are thinking when they dub their stars who can carry a tune. ( Ack! )

        There’s a similar picture of Vincent Sherman with Rita Hayworth. I love ’em both, him at their feet. There’s a power shift thing for me with Vincent down there, but I don’t know who the actress is with Sherman and Wong Howe. Maybe it’s James’ wife ( ?? )

        I think the very loose connection between “THE UNFAITHFUL” and “THE LETTER” is the wife knowing the man she killed, was her lover. She tries to hide the fact of her affair from her husband. I like both films.

        Some men can’t handle the Oomph, like I probably couldn’t handle Ricardo Cortez. L0L!


  3. I didn’t expect to get as caught up in this movie as I did. Everybody became immensely important to me. I cared about their lives. Of course, I always expect Kent Smith to be as good as he is in this movie and, you know what, whether it’s a TV episode or a film I see a guy who gives 100%.

    PS: The IMDb confirms that Ann Sheridan was indeed doing the chanteuse bit herself in “Nora Prentiss”.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Glad to know that Annie was singing. I love her alto voice. I’m not that big a Kent Smith fan. When I see him in the movies I smile and go “KENT!” But he does give good solid performances. What more can we ask from an actor. Having a vested interest in the characters is important. How about Rosemary DeCamp on the witness stand. She’s an unsung actress if there ever was one. I enjoy “Nora Prentiss.” Thanks again for commenting.

      Oh dear…and THANK YOU for putting my blog on YOUR blog list. I’m flattered!!! 😀


  4. I believe Ann Sheridan really did her own singing, at least that is what I always assumed. I looked it up and according to Wikipedia (admittedly, a dubious source) she was a singer. It’s always so impressive when an actor does their own singing, isn’t it?

    You’ve really made me want to see this. I’ve always liked her, but never seen her in a noir. It is very interesting how the film is about him, though, and how a man spirals downward.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Christina I try NOT to give away too much plot and SPOILERS and become a rehash of what you can get from IMDB. I’m glad my writing makes you want to see this film. You should. As for Sheridan in noir…try to catch her in “THE UNFAITHFUL.” It’s all her…a re~working of Bette Davis’ “THE LETTER.”

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Hi,

    Haven’t had a chance to look in lately and it appears like you’ve been busy critiquing so I have lots to catch up on but I’ll start here.

    LOVE Ann Sheridan! It’s been a while since I’ve watched this one, I’ve been concentrating on seeing older films that I haven’t before-recently tracked down Ann’s early Winter Carnival (it was okay but nothing special), but I should revisit it next time it shows up on TCM. She’s wonderfully sassy, then anguished and totally invested in the part.

    It’s surprising since The Unfaithful and especially this-I think it was the highest earning film that she toplined-were such hits that this was almost the end of her A picture career. I Was a Male War Bride followed this but even though there were still several good films after that they were at down market studios like that haven of falling stars Universal.

    I don’t usually think much of Kent Smith, at least not as a leading man he did better later on in character work. He was one of those odd lot of 50’s leading men along with John Lund, David Brian, Richard Egan and a few others whose sole purpose was to stand still while Crawford, Stanwyck, Bette Davis or other big female stars plowed right over them and consumed all the air in the room. But he’s perfect for the male lead, stolid and dependable but underneath a restless spirit and he delivers. This is the best of his leading man roles.

    I’m a big fan of Rosemary DeCamp, she was never an explosive presence but a centered calm one who contributed her solid touch to innumerable films and television episodes, and of course as mom Helen Marie on That Girl. As I said it’s been some time but I do remember her making an impression in the courtroom scene.

    Have you ever seen Ann’s later film Come Next Spring with Steve Cochran? I’d recommend it highly if you haven’t, she plays a careworn farm woman married to a Cochran a rambler who returns after disappearing for several years and they try to make amends. It was a pet project of Cochran’s, he plays a much more gentle character than usual.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hi Joel…thanks for your comments.

      I know “Winter Carnival” but I’ve never seen it or “Come Next Spring.” I want to see the latter. I’ve seen Cochran gentle before. I like him rough with a gun and a smackdown. By the by…have you ever seen “Tomorrow is Another Day”?

      I really don’t like “I Was A Male War Bride.” Sheridan and Grant have great chemistry but the hijinks of a cross~dressing Cary Grant don’t thrill me. I’d have like to see them in a nice Boy Meets Girl comedy.

      Kent Smith is not one of my faves, but he absolutely shines in “Nora Prentiss” as that Marshmallow Every Man. Ow! Your naming John Lund, David Brian and Richard Egan ( two out of three ain’t bad ) did stand next to Joanie and those other strong dames you mentioned. But Crawford needed the strong toxic masculinity to make her seem more feminine I s’pose.

      Rosemary DeCamp can do no wrong.


      • I have seen Tomorrow is Another Day and liked it. Cochran’s good in it and it stars another actress I’m a huge fan of, Ruth Roman. I’ve seen most of her films though I have four left, one were she costars with Ann Sheridan-Good Sam. It’s one of those that used to show all the time but I always came across it mid-film so never stuck with it but of late it seems to have vanished.

        Liked by 1 person

      • I’m an East Coaster but never a New Yorker though I’ve been many times. I used to have a friend who lived on 66th & 3rd before developers ruined the feeling of the area.

        And Ruth Roman was mighty indeed. Most people know her from Strangers on a Train but I much prefer her in Joe Macbeth, Lightning Strikes Twice, Down Three Dark Street and especially 5 Steps to Danger.

        I recently got to see Three Secrets, after YEARS of searching, in which she costars with Eleanor Parker & Patricia Neal as three women who had all given a child up for adoption at birth on the same day and now one of those boys was trapped on a mountain after a plane crash five years later. But whose child is it? All three were terrific and it was just jam packed with soapy goodness! It’s always so satisfying when you finally find one of those Holy Grail titles and it’s as good as you had hoped they would be.

        Liked by 1 person

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