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Nora Prentiss

Nora Prentiss(1947)

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teaser Nora Prentiss (1947)

"Loving her once is once too often!"
Ad line for Nora Prentiss

Warner Bros.' advertising placed this 1947 thriller squarely within the film noir genre, with its tale of a doctor (Kent Smith) whose obsession with nightclub singer Ann Sheridan destroys his life. What the ads failed to note was that with Sheridan in the title role, Nora Prentiss was just about the nicest femme fatale in film history. Then again, that's what audiences expected when they went to Sheridan's films, and it helped make Nora Prentiss another hit for her.

She certainly needed it. When she went to work on Nora Prentiss, she had been off the screen for eighteen months, battling Warner Bros. for better scripts and more money. She turned down everything sent to her, including Mildred Pierce (1945), which went on to win Joan Crawford an Oscar. When she and the studio finally hammered out a new contract, Warners rewarded her with this showcase for her unique combination of warmth and sex appeal - 'what the publicity department called "Oomph."

Part of the reward was a chance to work with Vincent Sherman, who had established himself as one of the studio's best directors of women. Previously, he had drawn strong performances from Ida Lupino in The Hard Way (1942) and Bette Davis in Old Acquaintance (1943) and Mr. Skeffington (1944), and he would work the same magic with Sheridan.

Helping him a lot was cinematographer James Wong Howe. The Chinese-born Howe had been nicknamed Low Key Hoe because of his fondness for dark, shadowy scenes. Howe and Sherman set Nora Prentiss in a nightmare world that mirrored the male lead's paranoia. Their use of subjective shots, disorienting angles and deep shadows helped make the picture a memorable film noir.

Director: Vincent Sherman
Producer: William Jacobs, Jack L. Warner
Screenplay: N. Richard Nash
Cinematography: James Wong Howe
Editor: Owen Marks
Art Direction: Anton Grot
Music: Franz Waxman
Cast: Ann Sheridan (Nora Prentiss), Kent Smith (Dr. Richard Talbot), Bruce Bennett (Dr. Joel Merriam), Robert Alda (Phil McDade), Rosemary De Camp (Lucy Talbot).
BW-112m. Close captioning.

by Frank Miller

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