Evelyn Prentice is a 1934 film starring William Powell and Myrna Loy. and featuring Una Merkel and Rosalind Russell in her film debut. The movie was based on the 1933 novel of the same name by W. E. Woodward.
The neglected wife of an attorney begins a flirtation with another man, who turns out to be a gigolo. After it appears that she shot him when he attempted to blackmail her, another woman is charged with the crime.
Author: marcslope from New York, NY
28 June 2005
Lenore Coffee was a prolific screenwriter whose specialty was the “women’s picture,” and she writes a honey of one here. William Powell is a too-busy lawyer who’s dallying with client Rosalind Russell and who neglects his family (and boy, can I identify with that), to the point where good wife Loy is momentarily distracted by a lounge-lizard poet with a busy black book. Disastrous complications ensue. William Howard’s direction is workmanlike at best, but Coffee keeps the fireworks popping. She balances things expertly between smart, sassy dialog and courtroom melodramatics, and she can write persuasively for tart-tongued best friends (a soignee Una Merkel), wide-eyed daughters (a relatively unannoying Cora Sue Collins), wronged women (a heavy-lidded Isabel Jewell), and a supporting cast of New York sophisticates. The windup is a little fast and the idyllic fadeout not entirely convincing, but in these days of overheated trials and yellow Murdoch journalism, it’s not entirely implausible, either. A very fast and smart comedy-drama, and I didn’t mind the absence of the Nick and Nora personas, or Asta, one bit.
Style and substance
7 January 2004
This is an absorbing, intelligent picture, bolstered by sensitive performances and adept handling of an adult story. Its fundamentals may be overly familiar, and perhaps a bit too much plot gets in the way of believable, touching characterizations. But you will care about the main characters, whose weaknesses and oversights lead them to the brink of ruin – even if (in a questionable decision by the film makers) they are given the trappings of art deco luxuries, instead of being brought closer to a lifestyle familiar to the audience.
Powell and Loy, alone and together, are fine, as always. Credit Isabel Jewell with a low-key, yet emotionally-charged performance. Jessie Ralph is excellent is one extended scene in which she babbles and equivocates as the tension builds to a quiet frenzy. Una Merkel softens her familiar screen mannerisms to play the character, rather than vice versa.
Not a well-known film, “Evelyn Prentice” is most definitely worth your while.
Inbetween The Thin Man
Author: wrbtu from Long Island Motor Parkway
14 May 2001
“Evelyn Prentice” starred William Powell & Myrna Loy, who were inbetween working on the first & second movies in “The Thin Man” series. There are similarities between their roles in this movie & their roles in that series. In both cases, they’re debonair rich folks with fancy clothes & a beautiful home. In both cases, Powell plays a character who likes to drink (more so in “The Thin Man”) & is involved with solving a murder mystery. But “The Thin Man” series is more light-hearted, with more flippant, snappier dialog, & is generally more enjoyable than “Evelyn Prentice.” Astra the Dog is missed, & replaced by the couple’s young daughter. But this is a good movie, & has a more surprising plot twist than any entry in “The Thin Man” series. The plot here has more typical pre-code elements than the later “Thin Man” entries, which I won’t mention here because I don’t want to give away the storyline. Una Merkel is good as Loy’s wisecracking friend. Isabel Jewell is very convincing in her role (I didn’t think so at first, but as I began to watch her more closely, I started to think that she’s a really good actress). I rate it 8/10
Tolerable film, but not the best of the Loy and Powell pairings.
Author: CindyH from Mobile, AL
24 October 2010
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
I disagree with planktonrules’s review for a variety of reasons. While it is true that this was obviously not a grand film, it is still worthy of a casual peek. After all, Loy and Powell fans will always appreciate seeing them together on the screen, even if it is not perfection.
The plot does sound interesting. John Prentice (William Powell) is an affluent lawyer who not only neglects his wife Evelyn (Myrna Loy) but has an affair with a client. In the mean time lonely Evelyn meets an apparently charming Lawrence Kennard who, unbeknownst to her, has only one motive: money.
Evelyn Prentice innocently corresponds with Mr. Kennard who uses the letters as leverage for his blackmail. While the letters are innocuous, the wording can be understood as either confirming an affair or only confirming a friendship. Naturally Mr. Kennard plans are to use them to confirm a non-existent affair.
When John wishes to reconcile with his wife, Evelyn notifies Mr. Kennard that their friendship is over. Infuriated, Mr. Kennard says he wants money in exchange for the letters; an amount that Evelyn cannot possibly pay. Grabbing a gun from an open drawer, Evelyn demands the letters. When he refuses, a gun shot is heard and Evelyn is seen leaving Mr. Kennard’s apartment.
Guilt ridden after hearing that a woman has been accused of Kennard’s murder, Evelyn asks her husband to take her case and even more twists are to come.
Unlike what planktonrules claims, it is entirely believable for that day in age. While overdone, perhaps, the plot is neat and does work.
I don’t give it a terribly high grade, but I do feel that the acting was very well done, the plot was clear and the ending was satisfying. That makes it a sufficient film, deserving any time spent viewing it.