Sunday, December 10, 2006

Movie: “Night Nurse”

Director: William Wellman 1931
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again (hey, this is my blog): Turner Classic Movies is the best network on TV. These are people who love movies, and their intelligence shines in their selections. Even the Hopperesque interstitials are impressive.
The other night, TCM repeated a documentary on Pre-Code Hollywood. This was followed by several PC movies, including “Night Nurse.” What a terrific movie, still watchable after 75 years, in large part due to Wellman’s no-nonsense direction and Barbara Stanwyck’s no-nonsense acting. Stanwyck is my favorite star of the 30s and 40s: tough, spirited, smart, sexy. Watch her go up against a young Clark Gable, who plays the bad guy. When she defies him, Gable flattens her with a sock to the chin. But that doesn’t scare her. At stake here are the lives of two children in Stanwyck’s care (she’s their nurse at night, hence the title). Good, of course, triumphs. But this is Pre-Code, so Stanwyck’s bootlegging love interest has Gable literally taken for a ride—Gable’s next seen being wheeled into the morgue. There is no retribution for the killing, as there would be Post-Code. There’s also quite a bit of undressing from street garb to nurse’s uniform. A sassy Joan Blondell adds her charm. TiVo “Night Nurse” for the next time TCM airs it.


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