Directed by: William Wellman
Friday, June 11 - Sunday, June 13, 2010
“Lora Hart (Barbara Stanwyck) is hired by the less than scrupulous Dr. Ranger (Ralf Harolde) to care for the Ritchey children, two little girls suffering from poor health. The girl’s mother (Charlotte Merriam) is an alcoholic involved in a self-destructive relationship with Nick, her criminally-inclined chauffeur (Clark Gable, in an early performance minus his trademark mustache). It soon becomes apparent to Lora that the children are being slowly starved to death by the doctor and Nick as part of an insidious plot to gain control of the children’s inheritance. Although she surprises her employer by taking an active interest in the little girls’ welfare, she also places herself in a dangerous situation.
“Often overlooked as a minor feature in the collective careers of Barbara Stanwyck, Clark Gable and director William Wellman, NIGHT NURSE (1931) is actually more engrossing than some of their more highly regarded films. For one thing, the often sordid subject matter is directed with considerable verve; Wellman punches up the film’s raciness with a steady stream of double intendre wisecracks, mostly delivered by Stanwyck and fellow compatriot Joan Blondell, as they parade around in various stages of undress. The violence in the film is rather strong for the period as well, with Gable beating Stanwyck to the floor in one scene and then carrying her semi-conscious body off to his bedroom for an off-screen rape. More controversial was the depiction of the film’s villains – so callous they could murder children for profit – and the movie’s pro-vengeance ending which suggested that the police and the courts were completely ineffective in dealing with certain unlawful situations. Of course, all of this makes NIGHT NURSE one of the more fascinating pre-Code melodramas that Warner Brothers released in the early thirties.” – TCMNR, 72 Minutes