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"Night Nurse" - 1931

Posted on January 15, 2010 at 11:50 PM

So, as I was checking my TCM Guide (Yeah, I'm a TCM whore, what ya gonna do about it!?) last night, I realized "Night Nurse" was going to be on this morning. And while I haven't seen all that much with Barbara Stanwyck, Clark Gable is one of my favorite actors, and sure, he is nice to look at. To wrap this up, I got up this morning to record and watch it at the same time. At seven in the morning. If you haven't discovered it yet, I AM CRAZY about such things.

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Basically, "Night Nurse" (1931) revolves around Lora Hart (Barbara Stanwyck), who joins a hospital as an intern before officially becoming a nurse. She becomes roommates with a girl known as Maloney (played by Joan Blondell), and once she?s gotten her feet wet, Lora becomes the head nurse for two sick, well-off, little girls. She slowly begins to suspect foul play involving the girls? mother, Mrs. Ritchey, and her chauffeur, Nick (Clark Gable), who has say over what goes on with the children when Mrs. Ritchey is ?incapacitated??which is too often.

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The movie was made in 1931, so it was made during the Pre-Code era of Hollywood, where basically anything went. And I mean anything. While there was nothing to cover your own eyes for, you saw a lot more skin than you?d expect in such a movie, and there was constant talk of bootlegging and bullet wounds. While this didn?t affect me while I was watching the movie?it made it feel just more authentic to the time it was made, since that was rather common?if you?re not used to older movies, it may surprise you what the heck they got away with, even if it was only for a short period of time.

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I don?t know how much of a fan of Barbara Stanwyck I am. I?ve seen her in maybe one other film, ?The Bitter Tea of General Yen? (1934) and I hated the movie, so I suppose I disliked her, also. She?s likeable enough, but I?m not sure if it was the dialogue or something?but I couldn?t see her as the nurse who was noble and not after a piece of the dough herself. She was kind enough, but the lines she had to say were just ridiculous. The one thing I did like about her character was when she was still in training, a man named Mortie (played by Ben Lyon), comes in with a bullet wound?and while she was required to report every bullet wound she takes care of, she hid it because of Mortie?s role in the alcohol trade.

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I really loved Ben Lyon in this movie! I?ve only seen him in one other film, ?Hell?s Angels? (1930), which is, in fact the same one made by Howard Hughes, but unlike what I last saw him in?he was loveable and a real ?pal? to Lora throughout this picture. He sends notes and even flowers to her graduation ceremony, all signed ?Pal.? And sure, he?s a bootlegger, but no one?s perfect! I just really liked what he did with his character, because Barbara Stanwyck got first billing, him second; he could?ve let himself slide into the background, but he didn?t. He brought a fantastic performance and at times, I really wanted him to come back, rather than listen to Lora and Nick battle it out. The dialogue was so bad, I wanted to re-write it myself.

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Clark Gable, was a disappointment. He was still new to Hollywood at the time, sounded like he?d rather be anywhere but on the Warner Bros. Lot making that movie?He wasn?t at all convincing. He sounded like he was reading off the script, and had no idea what he was doing, and really, the casting was just off with him. He played a kind of thug, which really wasn?t what he ended up doing in his career, and you can tell how uncomfortable he is. Flash forward to 1932, and he was excellent in ?Red Dust?! There was a major difference in his acting, and you could tell he had gained a lot more confidence between both movies.

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One positive thing about this was the short run time. It was only 72 minutes long, so it was an hour and ten minutes. Considering I couldn?t wait for it to be over, that was just long enough and the ending was perfect. I found the entire scandal surrounding the kids and the fact that maybe they were wanted dead rather than alive was pretty confusing, and really, it took until the last ten minutes before you knew what was going on. You also never found out what happened to one of the two girls, who disappeared mysteriously half-way through, but it was never mentioned if she had passed away or not.

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So, I don?t think I?d be watching this again! It was alright, but definitely not the best thing I?ve ever seen?and I?ve seen Pre-Code films much better than this. The dialogue was awful, and while the movie had some great moments, it may be worth watching if you?re a Gable fan like myself.

My rating: ?out of

Categories: Movie Reviews

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