NEW WORLD PICTURES MONTH: Night Call Nurses (1972)

Jonathan Kaplan’s directing career took him from Truck Turner and this movie to Heart Like A WheelThe Accused and Brokedown Palace. Recommended to Roger Corman by Martin Scorsese, he made one of the many nurses movies that New World Pictures released.

Written by George Armitage and Danny Opatoshu, NIght Call Nurses follows the formula or so it seems, introducing three student nurses: Janis (Alana Stewart, who was also Alana Hamilton, as she was married to both Rod and George once), Sandra (Mittie Lawrence, The New Centurions) and Barbara (Patty Byrne, Fuzz). The script changes early as this starts with a suicidal jumper and has each of the girls deal with the hospital’s inefficiency, racism and sexism as their stories unfold. Sandra falls for a trucker hooked on speed. Barbara breaks a radical named Samson (Stack Pierece) out. And Sandra gets caught up in a free love cult.

Nearly every man in this movie is horrible, from Dick Miller’s sleazy truck driver and Dr. Bramlett (Clint Kimbrough) to Dennis Dugan as a transvestite nurse who is stalking the girls and isn’t afraid to carry a meat cleaver. The free love encounter group also has Lyllah Torena (Fly Me) and Dixie Peabody (Bury Me an Angel) in it.

This was the first film produced by Julie Corman. In Crab Monsters, Teenage Cavemen and Candy Stripe Nurses – Roger Corman: King of the B Movie, Kaplan said, “I’d never seen a Nurses movie. Corman laid out the formula. I had to find a role for Dick Miller, show a Bulova watch and use a Jensen automobile in the film. And he explained that there would be three nurses: a blonde, a brunette, and a nurse of color; that the nurse of color would be involved in a political subplot, the brunette would be involved in the kinky subplot, and the blonde would be the comedy subplot. The last thing he said was “There will be nudity from the waist up, total nudity from behind, and no pubic hair.” Now get to work!” He soon figured out that all he had to do was “deliver the nudity, the thrills, the kinkiness, and the comedy, that had become Roger’s trademark — and I did.”

I mean, it’s hard to hate a movie with the tagline “It’s always harder at night.”

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