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Evelyn Prentice

(1934 b 79')

En: 5 Ed: 5

Based on the novel by W. E. Woodward, the neglected wife of a lawyer shoots a blackmailing womanizer.

Prominent defense attorney John Prentice (William Powell) lines up doctors to testify and gets his client Nancy Harrison (Rosalind Russell) acquitted of vehicular homicide. His wife Evelyn (Myrna Loy) feels even more neglected when he goes off to Boston for a week and stays away more than two. At a nightclub she meets Lawrence Kennard (Harvey Stephens). Nancy shows up on John's train to thank him. Evelyn receives a book of poetry by Kennard, and her friend Amy (Una Merkel) accepts on her behalf a tea date with him. Judith Wilson (Isabel Jewell) is jealous of Kennard, yet loans him money. Kennard and Evelyn exchange letters. Evelyn receives a watch lost on the train that is inscribed "Nancy from John." She goes to Kennard's but says good-bye to him. Amy shows John the watch; he cancels his appointments and invites Evelyn and their daughter Dorothy to go to Europe.

Kennard is drunk and tries to blackmail Evelyn for $15,000 with her letters. She picks up his gun and demands the letters. A shot is heard. Amy tells Evelyn that Judith Wilson was arrested for shooting Kennard, and Evelyn admits to Amy she killed Kennard. John and Evelyn discuss the Wilson case while Dorothy confesses she broke a vase. Evelyn asks John to help Wilson. He visits her in jail and takes the case. He tells his investigators that the wife of a prominent man may have done it. Their witness Mrs. Blake meets Evelyn and describes a woman just like her. Evelyn tells Amy she is going to court. District attorney Farley tells the jury that John "invented the other woman" while John notices Mrs. Prentice mentioned in Kennard's diary. Farley demands the life of Wilson; but Evelyn shouts no and confesses she killed Kennard. She testifies to what happened, but John draws out that she accidentally fired once after being hit. John questions Wilson again about her testimony that she heard two shots and was discovered by the grocery boy. He accuses her of lying, and she admits she heard only one shot, quarreled with Kennard, and then shot him. John tells the jury that Kennard destroyed her and claims self-defense. Wilson is acquitted. Evelyn is ready to leave and is saying good-bye to Dorothy when John tells her the Wilson case is all over. They plan to go to Europe and embrace.

Courtroom suspense highlights this sad story of a husband and wife temporarily flirting with outside affairs. Two women are portrayed as the victims of the immoral womanizer they shot.

Copyright © 1999 by Sanderson Beck

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