Siren Song – Ladies of Film Noir, Part 8: Ann Sheridan in Nora Prentiss (1947)

Ann Sheridan plays the title torch singer in the film noir Nora Prentiss (1947, dir. Vincent Sherman). Wearing a va-va-voom outfit designed by Travilla (who later designed Marilyn Monroe’s famous pink “Diamonds Are a Girl’s Best Friend” gown for Gentlemen Prefer Blondes and the similarly iconic white dress for The Seven Year Itch), Sheridan and her plunging neckline together live up to the actress’s pet name as “The Oomph Girl.” (For the record, though, Sheridan hated the moniker, once saying that “just being known by a nickname indicates that you’re not thought of as a true actress… It’s just crap! If you call an actress by her looks or a reaction, then that’s all she’ll ever be thought of as.”) She sings “Would You Like a Souvenir?” to an appreciative audience as part of her San Francisco nightclub job. You will notice that “Nora” smiles and seems to enjoy her work, instead of exhibiting the more stereotypically aloof or bitter manners of other noirish dames; in fact Sheridan plays a rather likeable lady in the film, sympathetic even as she causes her man’s (Kent Smith) downfall – which is really more his fault for being obsessed with her to the point of madness.

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