Smith plays a successful San Francisco doctor who is unhappily married to DeCamp. He begins an affair with Sheridan, a nightclub singer, but can't work up the nerve to ask his wife for a divorce. Sheridan takes advantage of an opportunity to move to New York to open up at a new nightclub.
Smith is depressed in her absence but sees a way out of his plight when a patient unexpectedly dies. He fakes his own death, substituting the patient's body for his own, then leaves for New York and his beloved. He later discovers that his California "death" is being investigated as a possible
murder. Smith becomes paranoid and frightened, refusing to leave Sheridan's apartment. He turns to alcohol as his only refuge and watches Sheridan's career take off. He begins to think she is having an affair with her boss (Alda) and gets into a fight with the man. In his alcoholic stupor, Smith
believes he's killed Alda. He flees in his car, only to wind up in a terrible accident that disfigures his face. After undergoing emergency plastic surgery, Smith becomes a new person and is relieved, until he is arrested for his own murder back in California. None of his former friends or family
realize that it is the "victim" who is on trial. He is convicted of his own murder and sentenced to death. He convinces Sheridan to keep quiet about his real identity so as to avoid any further emotional difficulty for his family. The former lovers bid farewell on Death Row. Though intended to be
a "woman's picture," the unusual story and expressionistic camerawork make NORA PRENTISS an attractive film noir. The ironic, almost existential ending works well on this level. The cinematography (by famed cameraman Howe) also pushes the film beyond its intentions, capturing Smith's paranoia and
despair quite nicely. He uses the seedy hotels and darkly lit nightclubs to their best advantage, giving the film an overall moodiness that heightens the drama.
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- Rating: NR
- Review: Smith plays a successful San Francisco doctor who is unhappily married to DeCamp. He begins an affair with Sheridan, a nightclub singer, but can't work up the nerve to ask his wife for a divorce. Sheridan takes advantage of an opportunity to move to New Yo… (more)