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Film / Night Shift

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Night Shift is a 1982 comedy film directed by Ron Howard, starring Henry Winkler, Michael Keaton, and Shelley Long.

Having been reassigned to the unenviable night shift at the New York City morgue where he works, mild-mannered Chuck Lumley (Winkler) struggles to get along with his new assistant, the wacky and exuberant Bill Blazejowski (Keaton, in his Star-Making Role). Meanwhile, Chuck's neighbor Belinda Keaton (Long) is a Hooker with a Heart of Gold who's struggling to get along since her pimp was murdered. Chuck's Good Samaritan efforts to help Belinda and Bill, and their penchant for Zany Schemes, eventually lead to them running a prostitution ring out of the morgue. Hilarity Ensues.

No relation to Stephen King's Night Shift.

This film provides examples of:

  • Angry Guard Dog: Chuck is tormented by one throughout the film. After his Character Development, he sends it away be yelling, "Go home!"
  • Attention Deficit... Ooh, Shiny!: Bill definitely seems to have this. His first scene has him practically bouncing off the walls.
  • Big "SHUT UP!": Bill carries around a tape recorder for all the times when he's struck by one of his "good ideas". At a moment when he's particularly annoyed at Bill, Chuck grabs his tape recorder and yells "This is Chuck telling Bill to SHUT UP!" into it.
  • The Big Rotten Apple: It's early 80s New York and the grime is on full display.
  • Destination Defenestration: The movie kicks off with Belinda's pimp, F.D.R. Jones, being chased down by people he didn't pay, and tossed out the window of his apartment tied to a chair, just as a guy dunks a basketball (flattening the basket on his way down).
  • Disposable FiancÚ: Chuck's is Charlotte Koogle, played by Gina Hecht.
  • Establishing Character Moment: After Chuck methodically sets up his night shift desk, we hear Bill's arrival by his singing along to "Jumping Jack Flash" on a tape recorder, then bursting into the room and energetically introducing himself.
  • Henpecked Husband: Apparently, Chuck's mother attends a once-a-week seance just to yell at her deceased husband more.
  • I'm a Man; I Can't Help It: Bill offers this as a reason why their scheme is moral, claiming that men will either use hookers to relieve their urges or else they will sexually assault little Girl Scouts. ("He goes and jumps on a Girl Scout and breaks her cookies and you call that moral?")
  • Motor Mouth: Bill, who seemingly talks all the frickin time.
  • My Girl Is Not a Slut: After Chuck and Belinda hook up, he just assumes that she will give up prostitution even though she has apparently no other means of supporting herself and he's still engaged to Charlotte at this point. The resulting disagreement results in a Second-Act Breakup.
  • Nepotism: Chuck gets reassigned to the night shift because his boss decided to give his nephew a job instead.
  • Prison Rape: After ending up in prison, Chuck declares that, "At this moment, I have sunk as low as I can go." Cue effeminate man holding up a piece of paper with hearts cut out of it. This joke is often judged to be homophobic.
  • Red Oni, Blue Oni: Bill is the Red to Chuck's Blue.
  • Sympathetic Adulterer: By hooking up with Belinda, Chuck is cheating on Charlotte. But don't worry, it's okay because Charlotte is portrayed as boring and naggy.
  • Very Loosely Based on a True Story: The screenwriter was inspired by a news item about a prostitution ring run out of a city morgue.
  • Weight Woe: Charlotte has this. She's introduced using an exercise bike to lose weight before her wedding... in nine months.