Nora Prentiss

Nora Prentiss

Theatrical release poster
Directed by Vincent Sherman
Produced by William Jacobs
Screenplay by N. Richard Nash
Story by Paul Webster
Jack Sobell
Starring Ann Sheridan
Kent Smith
Bruce Bennett
Robert Alda
Music by Franz Waxman
Cinematography James Wong Howe
Edited by Owen Marks
Distributed by Warner Bros.
Release dates
Running time
111 minutes
Country United States
Language English
Box office $2.4 million (US rentals)[1]

Nora Prentiss is a 1947 black-and-white drama film noir directed by Vincent Sherman, and starring Ann Sheridan, Kent Smith, Bruce Bennett and Robert Alda.[2] Sherman also directed leading lady Sheridan in another 1947 film noir, The Unfaithful. The cinematography is by cinematographer James Wong Howe, and the music was composed by Franz Waxman.


Dr. Richard Talbot, unhappy with the dull routine of his married life, begins an affair with nightclub singer Nora Prentiss. Feeling unable to ask his wife for a divorce, he fakes his own death by substituting a dead man's body for his own. He and Nora then move from San Francisco to New York, where Nora continues her singing career. Meanwhile, Talbot drinks heavily and becomes increasingly paranoid and reclusive as he learns that his death is under investigation. After a fight with Nora's nightclub boss, Talbot crashes his car and his face is badly scarred. The police, not realizing that the man is Talbot, arrest him for his own murder. Guilty about the suffering he caused his family and feeling he has no future, Talbot convinces Prentiss to keep his secret, allowing him to be convicted and executed.



Critical response

When the film was released, the staff at Variety magazine gave the film an unfavorable review. They wrote, "Nora Prentiss is an overlong melodrama, a story of romance between a married man and a girl. But it’s never quite believable. Ann Sheridan makes much of her role but the production has unsympathetic slant for leads and a lack of smoothness ... Sheridan is the singer, and has two tunes to warble. As the doctor, Kent Smith is okay dramatically in a part that doesn’t hold much water. Bruce Bennett, co-starred, has little to do as a medico friend of Smith’s."[3]

Noir analysis

Critics call the movie one of the best "woman's noir." Film historian Bob Porfirio notes, "Unlike such other Ann Sheridan or Joan Crawford motion pictures as The Unfaithful, Flamingo Road, and The Damned Don't Cry!, Nora Prentiss does not lapse into a romantic melodrama that might detract from the maudit[4] sensibility, the quintessential element of film noir."[5]


  1. "Top Grossers of 1947", Variety, 7 January 1948 p 63
  2. Nora Prentiss at the TCM Movie Database.
  3. Variety, film review, 1947. Accessed: July 14, 2014.
  4. cursed or damned at the Wiktionary.
  5. Alain Silver and Elizabeth Ward (1993). Film Noir: An Encyclopedia Reference to the American Style ("Nora Prentiss" article, page 214). Overlook TP. ISBN 0-87951-479-5.
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