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Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Night Nurse (1931)

When a feisty young nurse (Barbara Stanwyck) gets assigned night duty to watch over two ailing children, she begins to get suspicious when instead of getting better under their doctor's (Ralf Harolde) care, they're getting worse. This gritty pre-code melodrama could only have come out of Warner Brothers in the 1930s. The director William Wellman pulls out all the stops: there's a young pre-stardom Clark Gable as a sadistic chauffeur who likes to beat up on women, Stanwyck and Joan Blondell in sexy lingerie, corrupt doctors, boozed up mothers, attempted rape and bootleggers. At a brief 72 minute running time, Wellman has trimmed all the fat and it's a tight, nifty and nasty piece. Stanwyck, in particular, is really terrific here, already in full command of her actress's prowess. Based on the novel by Dora Macy. With the likable Ben Lyon (HELL'S ANGELS) as Stanwyck's bootlegger admirer, Charles Winninger, Blanche Friderici and Charlotte Merriam, who's at the receiving end of Stanywck's famous line, "You, mother!".

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