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Film / Night Nurse

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Lora is all ''Hart'' while Maloney is the grounding wit.
Night Nurse (1931) is a pre-code drama directed by William A. Wellman starring Barbara Stanwyck, Joan Blondell, and Clark Gable.

The film follows the nursing life of Lora Hart (Stanwyck) and her sarcastic friend, Miss Maloney (Blondell). They go through nurse training, and eventually get a cozy job taking care of Mrs. Richie’s two sick girls. However, Lora has a feeling that these girls are being starved and that the chauffeur, Nick (Gable), has something to do with it. With the help of a kind bootlegger, Mortie (Ben Lyon), and a good doctor, Dr. Bell (Charles Winninger), Lora saves the little girls from certain death.

A rare example of Clark Gable, here billed fifth, playing a bad guy, as he was just hitting the big time in 1931. A Free Soul, also from 1931, is another example.

Tropes in this work:

  • Abusive Parents: Mrs. Richie doesn’t care about her little girls; she cares only for her next drink.
  • The Alcoholic: Mrs. Richie is always drunk and ready to spend time with one of her “big boys."
  • Alliterative Title
  • Attempted Rape: The drunk house guest/boyfriend of Mrs. Richie tries to rape Lora, and she has to literally fight him off.
  • Big "SHUT UP!": Lora yells a big one to the doctor for talking about "ethics" when they clearly don't have any.
  • Bookends: The film begins and ends, more or less, with the POV shots of an ambulance driver.
  • Deadly Euphemism: Mortie says that if Lora doesn’t like someone he can easily “take him for a ride,” if necessary. This is what he does to get rid of Nick.
  • Deadpan Snarker: The wonderful Joan Blondell is not wasted.
  • Driving a Desk: Surprisingly averted with the ambulance shots from the POV of the driver. They are exciting and realistic.
  • Eating the Eye Candy: Mrs. Richie's drunk boyfriend checks out not only Lora as she tries to help Mrs. Richie, but also Mrs. Richie as Lora undresses her.
  • Everyone Calls Him "Barkeep": Lora calls her bootlegger friend, "the Bootlegger." He calls her “my pal."
  • Evil Wears Black: Nick spends most of the film in his slick, black chauffeur outfit.
  • Fanservice: The Movie: Multiple shots of Stanwyck and Blondell undressing, helping each other undress, and more undressing!
    • They also cuddle up together in bed when an orderly puts a skeleton in Lora's bed.
  • Fainting: Subverted: Lora almost faints from working on her first surgery (that would make her fail her nurse training), but is saved by Maloney. Then Played Straight as Lora faints when no one is in the room.
  • Hospital Hottie: Both Lora and Maloney get the once-overs from the orderlies.
  • In Vino Veritas: The Loose Lips version where Mrs. Maxwell gets into Mortie's booze stash. Mrs. Maxwell says that she has proof of a plot; Nick and Ranger are starving the little girls for their trust fund. She overheard Nick on the telephone.
  • Last-Name Basis: We never find out Miss Maloney’s first name.
  • Leg Focus: There’s a money shot of Maloney helping Lora take off her stockings and the camera lingers on Lora's legs.
  • Meaningful Name: Lora Hart.
  • Neighbourhood-Friendly Gangsters: Mortie took a bullet rather than sell a rival bootlegger's dangerously bad hooch, knocks over a delicatessen to get milk to save a dying child, and upon hearing about the plot against the children immediately offers to have Nick "taken for a ride."
  • Running Gag: Lora and Maloney's head nurse, Miss Dillon, always clears her throat, so they often make fun of her by copying her idiosyncratic sound.
  • What Happened to the Mouse?: The second Richie daughter is gone halfway through the film.
  • Wide-Eyed Idealist: Lora begins nursing to pursue her dream of taking care of others, and she likes it, until the situation with the Richies begin.
  • Would Hit a Girl: Nick punches Lora as she tries to call for a doctor because Mrs. Richie needs her stomach pumped. We later find out why: He doesn’t want Mrs. Richie’s drunkenness publicized because that means she would lose custody of her children, making Nick unable to marry her and steal her daughters' trust fund money.
  • Would Hurt a Child: Both Nick and Dr. Ranger slowly starve the Richie girls to get their trust fund money.
    • It's implied that Nick killed the girls' other sibling who was run over by a car. Would definitely kill a child.