Tuesday, October 06, 2020

Night Nurse (1931)

I'd never seen this one before, one of the most notorious pre-Code films. Barbara Stanwyck is a down-on-her-luck young woman who gets a chance to train as a nurse at a hospital. Joan Blondell is her tough, wisecracking colleague. At first, it looks like this is going to be a gritty and sensational expose of the goings-on at the hospital, but quickly turns to melodrama as Stanwyck is stationed at the home of a wealthy couple whose sick children, it turns out, are being neglected and mistreated. The mother and her boyfriend, both negligent alcoholics, are completely disinterested in the children's well-being, and Stanwyck learns about a plot involving the family chauffeur who has his own reasons for wanting the children dead.

It takes a very dark and unpleasant turn in the second half of the film, with Stanwyck a powerful presence as she holds her own against the gangsters and corrupt doctors that she must deal with in order to save the children.

Directed with characteristic economy by William Wellman. Also starring Ben Lyon and Clark Gable in an early role as the villainous chauffeur.

1 comment:

Cullen Gallagher said...

Clark Gable as a heavy! I liked this one.