Night Nurse

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Average Rating: 3.6/5

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Even by pre-Production Code standards, Night Nurse is pretty raw meat. Barbara Stanwyck appears in various states of dishabille as Lora Hart, a nurse hired as a governess for the children of alcoholic socialite Mrs. Ritchie (Charlotte Merriam, who replaced Mildred Harris during shooting). Lora is shocked at the degree to which kids have been neglected by their tosspot mother and even more shocked at the behavior of Mrs. Ritchie's chauffeur Nick (Clark Gable), who seems to have a sinister influence over the household. A grade-A louse, Nick has concocted a scheme to starve the two kids to death then gain control of their trust fund by marrying Mrs. Ritchie. Advised by her best friend Maloney (Joan Blondell) to call the cops, Lora is browbeaten into silence by the brutish Nick. But help arrives in the form of Mortie (Ben Lyon), a likeable bootlegger who cheerfully uses his mob connections to put Nick "on the spot."

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Ben Lyon
as Morlie
Charles Winninger
as Dr. Arthur Bell
Charlotte Merriam
as Mrs. Ritchey
Eddie Nugent
as Eagan the Interne
Blanche Frederici
as Mrs. Maxwell
Allan Lane
as Second Interne
Allan "Rocky" Lane
as 2nd Interne
Walter McGrail
as Mack, a drunk
Ralf Harolde
as Dr. Milton Ranger
Vera Lewis
as Miss Dillon
Betty May
as Nurse
Jed Prouty
as Archie, father-to-be
Willie Fung
as Patient
James Bradbury Jr
as Wounded Prisoner
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Critic Reviews for Night Nurse

All Critics (7)

Audience Reviews for Night Nurse

This one is definitely a guilty pleasure. It has to be. There are so many moments of obvious exploitation of young actresses Barbara Stanwyck (24 years old) and Joan Blondell (25), and they're all done in an amateurish way by director William A. Wellman, that you may find yourself chuckling at how over-the-top this pre-Code film is. We see Stanwyck undress to put on her new nurse's uniform, while Blondell eyes her up and down, and later takes off her garter for her. We see the two of them return from a night of carousing, and while getting undressed for bed, with Blondell's backside takes center stage. We see Blondell slipping on a uniform for surgery with the help of an assistant. And we see Stanwyck changing into her uniform, again while Blondell looks on admiringly. That's four underwear scenes, and all in the first 30 minutes! The movie does settle in to a plot, with the pair tending to a couple of trust fund babies who are being starved to death by none other than Clark Gable, who is quite sinister. In one scene Gable even knocks Stanwyck out, as Wellman dishes up a side of violence to go with the sex. As it plays out, it's all pretty ridiculous, but the star power of the film is hard to resist. I adore Stanwyck and Blondell, so confess this is not an unbiased review! I loved the chemistry Stanwyck had with Ben Lyon, the bootlegger she befriended on the job, and Blondell is a firecracker in every scene she's in. I found myself torn between being mesmerized by them and hooting over the movie's silliness, including an ending that was comically abrupt. Despite all that, it's probably must-see for anyone who likes pre-Code films, simply for how over the line the filmmakers wanted to take it, and with three superstars early in their film careers. It was certainly entertaining.

Antonius Block
Antonius Block

Super Reviewer

Cutesy and melodramatic. A nice example of young Stanwyck honing her craft.

Randy Tippy
Randy Tippy

Super Reviewer


Stanwyck is an ordinary nurse until she learns of malpractice and has to fight for the life of her patient.

Aj V
Aj V

Super Reviewer


"night nurse" is another piece of work made in the pre-code period of the 30s, and barbara stanwyck glitters with her inner strength as the heroine who practices the justice among immoral debauchies of a disorientated world under probation. then you might also be amused to glimpse the young clark gable without his trademarked mustache. stanwyck plays lora hart (which means a pun for heart to suggest her characteristics), who is a compassionate young woman who aspires to nuture others as pleasure. so she enlists in the hospital with the help of surgeon dr. bell as a registered nurse. and joan bondell is her wisecracking confidante who provides mostly the comic relief in the script, such as their habit to imitate the throat-cleaning sound, bondell's chewing-gum vivacity and stanwyck's frequent remark "says me in a big way, sister." and also stanwyck's merciful generosity leads to the friendship or potential love interest of a decent-hearted bootleger, played by ben lyon, who would be the savior later in the flick. so both bondell and stanwyck pass their tests of ordeals to be the night nurses, then they encounter a job concerned with their professional ethics. they're dispatched with a cse of two sick young girls who have been starved deliberantly to death so their mother and her paramour chauffer(clark gable) could obtain their father's trust fund inheritage. the flick is related to the forbidden subjects of prosmiscuity, illict affairs, alcoholism and child abuse then. clark gable makes a riveting entrance as the bully man in dragon-embroidered robe, impressing the audience with a certain degree of menace as the brutal villain who smacks stanwycks, and the issue of violence on women is not a pleasant theme for the censor as well. gable shows his darker side of cad convincingly for sure. "night nurse" is certainly a relish to look at, and you see stanwyck ballistically slaps the rotten mother who disregards the children, that would be a kick for sure.

Veronique Kwak
Veronique Kwak

Super Reviewer

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