Monday, February 7, 2011

Evelyn Prentice (1934)


"Alright, I'll tell you everything"


I cannot even begin to say how captivated I was with Evelyn Prentice. I put this film on a while before I had to leave for class and if this film had not been done I would have been late for my class I just did not want to stop this film for anything (Side note: I was late to class anyway even though I had finished this film with plenty of time to spare before class. Stupid shuttles!!). What made this film unstoppable to watch? Well read on:
             Evelyn Prentice (Myrna Loy) is married to powerful and well known lawyer John Prentice (William Powell). He is never home leaving Evelyn feeling neglected. She tells John that all he does is spend his time with crooks, thieves, and murderers and he replies by pointing to her jewels and repeating what she says. He is defending a woman on trial for murder named Nancy Harrison. When the trial is over he has to go away to meet with some politicians; once again leaving Evelyn behind. Nancy is on the same train, she has fallen in love with John.
            While John is away, Evelyn meets a womanizing, wife-cheating poet named Larry. He keeps her busy with tea dates and afternoons out. One day she gets a package with an engraved watch reading “To Nancy From John.” Evelyn’s friend Amy is staying with the couple for a while and she mentions the watch incident to John. He says there was nothing between him and Nancy, the woman was crazy and had the watch made and purposely left it in his room. John talks to his wife not specifically about the watch but he knows he needs to spend more time with her so he plans a long trip to Europe.
            Evelyn goes to break things off with Larry. He threatens to blackmail her with letters she had written to him. There is nothing wrong with the letters there is nothing scandalous in them but taken out of context they could cause trouble. He threatens to take the letters to her husband. In a panic Evelyn finds a gun in a desk drawer and points it at Larry. We see a hallway, a shot goes off and Evelyn runs out of the apartment.
            Next day in the papers Larry’s wife Judith has been arrested for murder. Evelyn knows she was the one who killed Larry and her guilt eats at her. She begs John to take the case because, as she says, she feels bad for the girl and will surely get the death penalty if he does not help. Evelyn only tells Amy what really happened that she is the one who killed Larry.

            In court, Evelyn cannot stand hearing how Judith murdered Larry. She stands up disrupting the court saying aloud for everyone to hear that she was the one who killed Larry. As Evelyn is being questioned new evidence comes in and once the whole incident is talked out in the open everything changes. Who really killed Larry, Evelyn or Judith?
             Well if anyone knows the Production Code and that usually back in the day the main star was never usually the killer you can guess what happens.
            So what made Evelyn Prentice so unstoppable to watch? Why did I like this film so much? My answer is the acting by Mryna Loy and William Powell. I know I gush about these two- especially Myrna Loy- all the time and how their acting is so great but in this film there is no denying they are two of the greatest actors to ever have worked in Hollywood. If you want to learn how to act watch this film. I have nothing but praise for Myrna Loy she was incredible as Evelyn Prentice. There were so many times in the film where I thought that if any other actress was playing this role they would have totally over acted and been way too dramatic. Some critics will say that Loy under acted in her roles but if you really watch her she’s not under acting she’s just acting and making her roles real. Loy was wonderful in the courtroom scene. You can see her guilt and mental torment thinking she was the one who caused Larry to die. Loy is what truly made this film so riveting and fascinating to watch. I wanted the film to keep going to see more of Myrna Loy this was truly her film and she shone wonderfully.
            William Powell was also very good. He was also very excellent in the courtroom scene. You could see why Evelyn loved John he was so nice and he truly loved his wife and thought of her even if he was not around. Powell was just one of those actors that whatever role he was given he gave one hundred percent and made his character great. I am just really glad that the writers of the film did not make John truly mad at Evelyn; well he really could not get mad her since she admitted to her involvement in the courtroom. I really like how they stayed together in the end and John realized how and why Evelyn kept company with another man because he was not around.
              Rosalind Russell of His Girl Friday and Auntie Mame fame makes her film debut as Nancy Harrison. Russell started out as a dramatic actress for MGM. It was not until she did His Girl Friday that she really became well known as a comedic actress. I read somewhere she begged MGM to let her make His Girl Friday she was tired of doing dramatic roles.
         Evelyn Prentice is an excellent film. The story is so-so but the acting is phenomenal.