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Barbara Stanwyck Gets Dressed
Standard fare for early Warner Bros. talkies, Night Nurse takes an unsentimental look at the life of a student nurse learning the ropes in a big city hospital. Young Lora Hart (Barbara Stanwyck) befriends kindly Dr. Bell (Charles Winninger) and streetwise classmate, Maloney (Joan Blondell) to become a professional health care worker to all walks of life, from immigrant mothers to bootleggers to society dames.
Naturally, this involves a lot of undressing.
After graduation, Nurse Hart takes a position in a private home to look after two young girls who are suffering from malnutrition. The doctor on the case, Dr. Ranger (Ralf Harolde), is a shady sort who twitches like a drug addict (which, now that I think about it, may be why the actor kept doing that) and forbids Hart from deviating from his strict feeding regimen. To complicate matters, the children's mother is a terrible drunk, who seems to be in a romance with both another terrible drunk, and a sober, but equally terrible chauffeur (Clark Gable), who has taken over the household. The children's rich father is long dead (we know not why, but have Suspicions) and a sister of theirs was killed in an automobile accident (see terrible chauffeur). Dr. Ranger and Clark Gable are plotting to starve the children to death and split their trust fund, presumably after getting drunk mom to walk off a building or something.
Lora and her boyfriend (Ben Lyon), an affable bootlegger she once treated for a gunshot wound in the ER on the down-low, foil the plan and save the girls.
The Breening: Code Violations in Order of Severity
A 71 minute picture about half-naked nurses harassed by interns, drunken playboys, evil doctors, and wooed by bootleggers...
...becomes a wholesome tale of a plucky, fully-clothed nurse, her equally wholesome friend, and her milkman beau helping an invalid mother rescue her children from an evil servant. It should clock in at just under an hour.
Ladies They Talk About (1933)
I get a special feeling when I see the early Warner Bros. opening credits with stars posed in character — chewin' gum, givin' a copper the hairy eyeball, lightin' a cheroot — and those are just the girls. It's a good feeling, make no mistake, and all the better when the picture involves women's prison.
That's where we find Barbara Stanwyck about 20 minutes into Ladies They Talk About, a great tale of two kids from the same hometown, one the deacon's daughter (Stanwyck), now a gun moll, and the other a populist running for district attorney, who was the son of the town drunk (Preston Foster). Nan Taylor is arrested for helping some of her thuggier friends (such as Lyle Talbot) rob a bank and is sent to prison, thanks to her hometown acquaintance, David Slade (Foster). In a weak moment (it was the smallest of moments) she had confessed her involvement in the robbery to Slade — just when he was about to get her released — so he wound up turning her in and testifying against her.
Slade loves Nan, but wants her to reform in prison. She does not quite feel the same way. In the slammer, though, she makes fast friends with Linda (Lillian Roth) who shows her the ropes; who to avoid and who's on the level. Nan settles in fine, but soon learns that the two goons who pulled the bank job have been arrested on a different charge and are now serving 20 years in the men's ward on the other side of the wall. She agrees, like an ass, to help the men escape in an absurd plan that could do nothing but fail, which it does. Nan is caught and gets an extra year added to her sentence. For pretty good reason, she blames the extra time on Slade.
When Nan gets out, she seeks revenge. That's where you'll have to pick it up.
It's classic pre-Code Warner Bros. excellence. Highly recommended.
I'll do just about anything a movie tells me to do. Unless it tells me wrong...
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