Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Night Call Nurses (1972)

          Roger Corman’s New World Pictures continued its drab cycle of sexy-nurse movies with this third installment, another ensemble drama about the interconnected misadventures of pretty young RNs. George Armitage, who wrote and directed the previous film in the series, Private Duty Nurses (1971), penned the screenplay for this installment, and fellow New World worker bee Jonathan Kaplan made his directorial debut on the project. Somewhat redeemed by flashes of whimsical humor—as well as satirical looks at group therapy and the growth of the pharmaceutical industry—the movie is tolerable but hardly compelling. Despite the title, the nurses actually work with psychiatric patients; perhaps Corman and co. felt Psych Ward Nurses wouldn’t have quite the same box-office allure. Anyway, our heroines are Barbara (Patty Byrne), a troubled young brunette wrestling with a stalker and with a lascivious therapist; Janis (Alana Hamilton), a perky blonde who becomes involved with a trucker after he’s hospitalized during a bad acid trip; and Sandra (Mittie Lawrence), an idealsitic African-American persuaded by her activist boyfriend to help spring a black-power militant leader from the heavily guarded room where he’s receiving medical care.
          As with all of the sexy-nurse movies, Night Call Nurses is padded with empty spectacle. In addition to a dull skydiving sequence, there’s an endless scene of young women stripping during a group-therapy session, ostensibly to throw off their inhibitions. Amid the repetitive nonsense, however, are some enjoyable moments. Once in a while, for instance, Armitage inserts some of his signature offbeat humor. Kyle (Richard Young), the wigged-out trucker, courts Janis by pointing to the name tag on her uniform. “Janis—is that your name or the name of your left tittie?” Giggling, she replies, “That’s my name—the name of my left tittie’s Irene.” Sophisticated? Hardly. Droll by comparison with the rest of the movie? Sure. There’s also a somewhat amusing scene in which a sleazy drug salesman tries to peddle unnecessary medication, only to be stymied by a nurse who brings up the pesky issue of medical ethics. The movie takes an abrupt left turn into pure Corman territory toward the end, climaxing with an escape, a car chase, and a bloody shootout. One suspects the people at New World realized the novelty of nurses providing carnal TLC wasn’t enough to sustain interest across multiple movies, hence the choice to throw in random exploitation elements, whether they fit or not.

Night Call Nurses: FUNKY

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