Lively, entertaining reviews of, and essays on, old and newer films and everything relating to them, written by professional author William Schoell.

Thursday, July 23, 2009


NORA PRENTISS (1947). Director: Vincent Sherman.

Dr. Talbot: "I'm writing a paper on an ailment of the heart."

Nora Prentiss: "A paper? I could write a book!"

Dr. Richard Talbot (Kent Smith, in perhaps his most memorable performance) is a decent man with a disinterested wife, two children, and a dull routine. And then into his life comes an accident victim named Nora Prentiss (the saucy Ann Sheridan, doing nicely in a dramatic turn) and suddenly everything changes and his life heads in a completely different direction. This is a fascinating study of romantic obsession with a lot of great twists and a wind-up that may seem absurd at first but sort of works when you think about it. Franz Waxman contributes a great, near-operatic theme. Robert Alda, Rosemary DeCamp and Bruce Bennett also have important roles. It's interesting that while Nora is not a woman without flaws, Sheridan does not play her like a heartless siren or femme fatale -- an approach that other actresses may have taken -- but a real and genuinely warm human being. In their first encounter Dr. Talbot shows little humor or personality, but Smith is handsome enough --especially in this film -- for us to understand Sheridan's interest. The first half of the film is interesting enough as a straight romance, but the second half with the intrigue is also quite compelling. Not quite a classic, but good.

Verdict: A really twisted romance. ***1/2.

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