Private Duty Nurses


1h 20m 1971

Brief Synopsis

Some sexy nurses who work with Vietnam veterans become aware of racism at the hospital and make it their business to stop it.

Film Details

Also Known As
Sunshine Ladies, The Young Nurses, Young L. A. Nurses
MPAA Rating
R
Genre
Comedy
Drama
Medical
Release Date
Nov 1971
Premiere Information
Los Angeles opening: 8 Oct 1971
Production Company
Crest Films
Distribution Company
New World Pictures
Country
United States

Technical Specs

Duration
1h 20m
Sound
Mono
Color
Color (Metrocolor)

Synopsis

Student nurses Spring, Lola and Lynn rent an apartment together at the beach after being assigned to a new, innovative nursing program at South Bay Hospital. On orientation day, the nurses meet Dr. Setton, the crusty hospital administrator, and Lola, who is black, is shocked when she witnesses Setton slam his office door shut after Elton Sanders, a black physician, tries to confront him because he has been rejected for a position on the hospital staff. Later, Spring is assigned to the case of Domino, a bitter Vietnam veteran suffering from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, who has had a plastic plate inserted into his head as a result of a war injury. Dr. McClintock, Domino's physician, warns Spring that Domino must refrain from any vigorous activity, which means giving up his love for motorcycle racing. Lola, meanwhile, visits Elton at his ghetto clinic and volunteers to work there. Elton welcomes her, but warns that South Bay Hospital will never allow blacks to work on staff. One day, as Lynn is strolling along the beach, she sees a drowning victim pulled out of the water. Soon after, Dr. Doug Selden, a doctor at South Bay who was summoned to treat the drowning victim, declares the man is dead and comments that the victim's body is covered with oil. While bicycling on the beach bike path one day, Spring spots Domino, who has been released from the hospital and is now working on his motorcycle. Defiantly refusing to give up bike racing, Domino roars off and does a wheelie on his bike. After Lola and Elton team up to save a little boy's life, Lola invites Elton out to celebrate, but he becomes angry when she takes him to Schlumfeders, an all-white bar on the beach, then leaves. Spring gradually befriends Domino, even though he asserts that he will never give up racing because it is the one thing that makes him feel confident. Spring passes the information along to Dr. McClintock, who criticizes her for encouraging Domino to risk his life. Angry with Elton, Lola goes to confront him about his behavior at the bar, but they end up having sex. Afterward, Lola admits that she wanted to be a doctor instead of a nurse, but her application for medical school was rejected. Elton observes that the reason she was rejected is that there is a quota limiting the number of black students. At the clinic one day, Elton informs Lola that he plans to open his own hospital and wants Lola to work as his nurse. In response, Lola announces that she has decided to reapply to medical school, but Elton objects, asserting that black men, not women, should be given the first opportunity to become doctors. Upon meeting Lynn at the hospital, Doug invites her to go sailing on his boat, where they discuss the increasing pollution of the bay. Later at the hospital, Doug suggests investigating the cause of death of the drowned man, and they begin to show his photograph to various people in hopes of identifying the man. Spring continues to date Domino, but when she mentions that she is spending the summer in South Dakota to work with the Indians, he criticizes her for being a "missionary." Later, they reconcile by making love. Determined to force South Bay Hospital to hire a black doctor, Elton organizes a protest with two other doctors, one called Dr. Wasp and one Dr. Black. Although she is still angry about Elton's sexism, Lola lets them slip in through the hospital back door after which they proceed to Dr. Setton's office and announce that they are staging a sit-in. However, when Lola overhears Setton telling hospital security not to notify the press because nobody cares about discrimination, Lola becomes angry and joins Elton to help contact reporters about the situation at the hospital. Spring, meanwhile, is watching Domino race when he loses control of the bike and crashes. Domino is rushed to the hospital, where Dr. McClintock diagnoses that the plastic plate has slipped and that as a result, Domino must immediately undergo surgery. Continuing their quest to identify the drowning victim, Lynn and Doug show the photograph to the bartender at Schlumfeders, who remembers seeing the man in the company of a curly-haired man. Upon returning to her apartment, Lynn is attacked and raped by the curly-haired man, who warns her to stop playing detective. Terrified, Lynn hurries to tell Doug, who then questions the bartender again and learns that the curly-haired man is named Ahmed. When Lynn and Doug go to Ahmed's apartment, Ahmed pulls out his gun and shoots Doug. Lynn runs out into the street, and as Ahmed chases her, he is shot by Kirby, a narcotics officer who has been watching Ahmed's apartment. Kirby explains that Ahmed and the drowning victim were narcotics smugglers and that after the man died of cholera, Ahmed dumped his body in the ocean. As the reporters converge at the hospital, meanwhile, Setton, to save face, agrees to hire a black doctor if Elton will testify that the sit-in was a misunderstanding. Elton at first refuses, but Lola convinces him to accept the offer. The critically wounded Doug is transported to the hospital in an ambulance and swept into surgery as Lynn sits in the waiting room. Soon after, a woman arrives, approaches Lynn and introduces herself as Doug's wife. Lynn, who was unaware that Doug is married, barely has time to deal with the news when Setton enters the room to inform Mrs. Selden that her husband has died in surgery. Spring, however, gets good news when Dr. McClintock emerges from surgery with the news that Domino will recover. As their term ends, Lola moves in with Elton, still determined to enter medical school. Now mentally and physically recovered, Domino decides to give up racing to join Spring in South Dakota while Lynn, who has no plans, sits alone on a bench.

Film Details

Also Known As
Sunshine Ladies, The Young Nurses, Young L. A. Nurses
MPAA Rating
R
Genre
Comedy
Drama
Medical
Release Date
Nov 1971
Premiere Information
Los Angeles opening: 8 Oct 1971
Production Company
Crest Films
Distribution Company
New World Pictures
Country
United States

Technical Specs

Duration
1h 20m
Sound
Mono
Color
Color (Metrocolor)

Articles

The Nurses Collection: Roger Corman's Cult Classics - Roger Corman's Cult Classics: The Nurses Collection


Inspired by the trend of "three young girls" films like Three Coins in the Fountain that culminated in Jacqueline Susann's '60s pop culture sensation Valley of the Dolls, Roger Corman hit upon a durable formula that served him well throughout the 1970s: take three beautiful young women working in a single industry, give them each a sexy or cutting edge storyline of their own, mix well with some acceptable levels of T&A, and voila! Box office gold.

This recipe for success extended to a string of films Corman made at New World involving stewardesses and fashion models, but its most famous incarnation is easily the quintet of nurse films made from 1970 to 1974. Four of these (minus the first one, The Student Nurses) are gathered in a two-disc set from Shout Factory entitled Roger Corman's Cult Classics: The Nurses Collection as part of its lavish ongoing line of Corman releases, and interestingly, the four are scrambled way out of order for reasons never made quite clear.

First up in the set but last to be released chronologically is Candy Stripe Nurses, directed by UCLA grad Alan Holleb (who only made one other film, the high school ghost comedy School Spirit). As a curtain closer for the series, it makes a more than appropriate intro as well as it follows three young women working as volunteer nurses, all for very different reasons. Sandy (the late Candice Rialson from Hollywood Boulevard) ostensibly takes her assignment to be close to her doctor boyfriend, but she spends much of her time bedding both the staff and patients. Dianne (soap actress Robin Mattson) actually does want to be a physician and hopes the experience will get her on the right path, while troubled Marisa (María Rojo) has to work as community service duty after getting involved in a nasty knife fight on school grounds. Their misadventures include a series of attempted and completed sexual assaults, proving the innocence of a wounded man accused of a robbery, tangling with familiar drive-in actors like Dick Miller and Sally Kirkland, and even trying to cure the impotence of an over-the-hill rocker. It all climaxes, naturally, with a basketball game, a tire-screeching car chase against time, and an emergency room crisis. The film is mainly Rialson's show, however, and it's not hard to see how she amassed a sizable cult following; not surprisingly, Corman used her again the same year for the not dissimilar Summer School Teachers. Also, the cut-rate "animated" opening titles (complete with rocking theme song) are not to be missed.

Then we move back chronologically to the third of the nurse cycle, Night Call Nurses, an unexpected offering from director Jonathan Kaplan (who went on to helm The Accused, Over the Edge, and White Line Fever) and writers George Armitage (future director of Miami Blues and Grosse Pointe Blank) and Danny Opatsohu (Get Crazy). This time the location shifts somewhat to a hospital psych ward, where the patients range from truly bonkers to politically revolutionary. The action stars with a pre-credits sequence involving a partially POV-shot suicide jump off the hospital roof, after which the film careens through the antics of brown-haired Barbara (Patti Byrne), soul sister Sandra (Mittie Lawrence), and perky blonde Janis (Alana Stewart). They have the work through the usual quagmire of disturbed patients, frowning supervisors, horny attendants, and flaky boyfriends, all scored to growling rock music. Oh, and character actor Dennis Dugan runs around in drag wagging a cleaver and leaving creepy notes for all of our heroines. It's all good fun, and while the actresses aren't quite up to the caliber of the other film on this disc, they're still strong, beautiful, and brave enough to keep the sometimes random chain of events grooving along just fine.

The only extra on disc one is the 14-minute "Anatomy of a Nurse Film," which features both Kaplan and Holleb recalling how they got their start at New World. They talk at length about Corman's intentions for the films including necessary product placements, the exact parameters of female nudity to include, and the roles each girl would play (blonde = comedy storyline, brunette = kinky, "girl of color" = political). Kaplan gets the funniest moment talking about the unorthodox methods suggested to convince an actress to go topless, which involves scouting for hookers on Sunset Boulevard.

The second disc then hops back another entry in time to the flimsiest offering of the entire series, Private Duty Nurses, which was both written and directed by Armitage. It's far from his most accomplished feature, however, and apart from an interesting soundtrack contribution from semi-obscure '70s rock band Sky, it's mostly a wash. The fatigue here is obvious as this is basically a less humorous rehash of The Student Nurses, with another curvy threesome navigating a sea of obstacles including a drug smuggling ring, racial discrimination against the hiring of black doctors, and, uh, marine pollution. Very little of it has a connection to the actual hospital, and while the nightclub and biker scenes have some interest as snapshots of '70s SoCal life, the lack of narrative direction ultimately grounds the entire enterprise. For the record, the three nurses this time around are Spring (TV actress Kathy Cannon), Lola (Joyce Williams), and Lynn (Pegi Boucher).

Finally we hit the fourth chronological film of the series and last in the set, 1973's The Young Nurses, which was the only directorial effort for Corman actor Clint Kimbrogh (Bloody Mama). At times this one feels more like an intended Pam Grier vehicle as Michelle (Cleopatra Jones' Angela Elayne Gibbs) juggles her time Coffy-style between her nursing job and taking care of the drug dealers who are destroying her friends and neighborhood. It all leads to none other than cult director Samuel Fuller in a small but pivotal role as a corrupt doctor! Comic actor Allan Arbus (M*A*S*H) pops up as well, one year after his astonishing turn in Robert Downey's Greaser's Palace. The other storylines are far less interesting, with Kitty (Jeane Manson) and Joanne (Ashley Porter) getting a grip on a boat racing competition and the best way to wriggle out of their tight nurse uniforms.

The second disc also features only one extra, but it's a keeper. In the 12-minute "Paging Dr. Corman," both Roger and his wife/producer Julie talk about starting off New World on the right foot and their own ingredients for the series, including the fact that the girls always had to solve their own problems and the integration of political elements like news voiceovers in the background. Julie also has some great observations about women's liberation at the time and society's restrictions, such as the fact that she herself couldn't get a credit card in her own name because she was married. No theatrical trailers are included for any of the films, but they are available on various other drive-in trailer collections.

All of these films were previously released on DVD by Corman's New Horizons label, but these were essentially bare bones and featured atrocious transfers from very dated, full frame video masters (several of which were actually cropped instead of open matte). They also appeared in unauthorized, watermarked transfers with even cruddier transfers as part of Infinity's lackluster Presenting Roger Corman's...Best of B*s Collection 2: Naughty Nurses & Tawdry Teachers , which should be avoided at all costs. All four looks infinitely better in the Shout Factory collection with satisfying 1.78:1 anamorphic transfers, rich colors, appropriate film grain levels in the darker scenes, and vastly improved black levels; across the board, it's a major upgrade in every respect.

For more information about Roger Corman's Cult Classics: The Nurses Collection, visit Shout! Factory.

by Nathaniel Thompson
The Nurses Collection: Roger Corman's Cult Classics - Roger Corman's Cult Classics: The Nurses Collection

The Nurses Collection: Roger Corman's Cult Classics - Roger Corman's Cult Classics: The Nurses Collection

Inspired by the trend of "three young girls" films like Three Coins in the Fountain that culminated in Jacqueline Susann's '60s pop culture sensation Valley of the Dolls, Roger Corman hit upon a durable formula that served him well throughout the 1970s: take three beautiful young women working in a single industry, give them each a sexy or cutting edge storyline of their own, mix well with some acceptable levels of T&A, and voila! Box office gold. This recipe for success extended to a string of films Corman made at New World involving stewardesses and fashion models, but its most famous incarnation is easily the quintet of nurse films made from 1970 to 1974. Four of these (minus the first one, The Student Nurses) are gathered in a two-disc set from Shout Factory entitled Roger Corman's Cult Classics: The Nurses Collection as part of its lavish ongoing line of Corman releases, and interestingly, the four are scrambled way out of order for reasons never made quite clear. First up in the set but last to be released chronologically is Candy Stripe Nurses, directed by UCLA grad Alan Holleb (who only made one other film, the high school ghost comedy School Spirit). As a curtain closer for the series, it makes a more than appropriate intro as well as it follows three young women working as volunteer nurses, all for very different reasons. Sandy (the late Candice Rialson from Hollywood Boulevard) ostensibly takes her assignment to be close to her doctor boyfriend, but she spends much of her time bedding both the staff and patients. Dianne (soap actress Robin Mattson) actually does want to be a physician and hopes the experience will get her on the right path, while troubled Marisa (María Rojo) has to work as community service duty after getting involved in a nasty knife fight on school grounds. Their misadventures include a series of attempted and completed sexual assaults, proving the innocence of a wounded man accused of a robbery, tangling with familiar drive-in actors like Dick Miller and Sally Kirkland, and even trying to cure the impotence of an over-the-hill rocker. It all climaxes, naturally, with a basketball game, a tire-screeching car chase against time, and an emergency room crisis. The film is mainly Rialson's show, however, and it's not hard to see how she amassed a sizable cult following; not surprisingly, Corman used her again the same year for the not dissimilar Summer School Teachers. Also, the cut-rate "animated" opening titles (complete with rocking theme song) are not to be missed. Then we move back chronologically to the third of the nurse cycle, Night Call Nurses, an unexpected offering from director Jonathan Kaplan (who went on to helm The Accused, Over the Edge, and White Line Fever) and writers George Armitage (future director of Miami Blues and Grosse Pointe Blank) and Danny Opatsohu (Get Crazy). This time the location shifts somewhat to a hospital psych ward, where the patients range from truly bonkers to politically revolutionary. The action stars with a pre-credits sequence involving a partially POV-shot suicide jump off the hospital roof, after which the film careens through the antics of brown-haired Barbara (Patti Byrne), soul sister Sandra (Mittie Lawrence), and perky blonde Janis (Alana Stewart). They have the work through the usual quagmire of disturbed patients, frowning supervisors, horny attendants, and flaky boyfriends, all scored to growling rock music. Oh, and character actor Dennis Dugan runs around in drag wagging a cleaver and leaving creepy notes for all of our heroines. It's all good fun, and while the actresses aren't quite up to the caliber of the other film on this disc, they're still strong, beautiful, and brave enough to keep the sometimes random chain of events grooving along just fine. The only extra on disc one is the 14-minute "Anatomy of a Nurse Film," which features both Kaplan and Holleb recalling how they got their start at New World. They talk at length about Corman's intentions for the films including necessary product placements, the exact parameters of female nudity to include, and the roles each girl would play (blonde = comedy storyline, brunette = kinky, "girl of color" = political). Kaplan gets the funniest moment talking about the unorthodox methods suggested to convince an actress to go topless, which involves scouting for hookers on Sunset Boulevard. The second disc then hops back another entry in time to the flimsiest offering of the entire series, Private Duty Nurses, which was both written and directed by Armitage. It's far from his most accomplished feature, however, and apart from an interesting soundtrack contribution from semi-obscure '70s rock band Sky, it's mostly a wash. The fatigue here is obvious as this is basically a less humorous rehash of The Student Nurses, with another curvy threesome navigating a sea of obstacles including a drug smuggling ring, racial discrimination against the hiring of black doctors, and, uh, marine pollution. Very little of it has a connection to the actual hospital, and while the nightclub and biker scenes have some interest as snapshots of '70s SoCal life, the lack of narrative direction ultimately grounds the entire enterprise. For the record, the three nurses this time around are Spring (TV actress Kathy Cannon), Lola (Joyce Williams), and Lynn (Pegi Boucher). Finally we hit the fourth chronological film of the series and last in the set, 1973's The Young Nurses, which was the only directorial effort for Corman actor Clint Kimbrogh (Bloody Mama). At times this one feels more like an intended Pam Grier vehicle as Michelle (Cleopatra Jones' Angela Elayne Gibbs) juggles her time Coffy-style between her nursing job and taking care of the drug dealers who are destroying her friends and neighborhood. It all leads to none other than cult director Samuel Fuller in a small but pivotal role as a corrupt doctor! Comic actor Allan Arbus (M*A*S*H) pops up as well, one year after his astonishing turn in Robert Downey's Greaser's Palace. The other storylines are far less interesting, with Kitty (Jeane Manson) and Joanne (Ashley Porter) getting a grip on a boat racing competition and the best way to wriggle out of their tight nurse uniforms. The second disc also features only one extra, but it's a keeper. In the 12-minute "Paging Dr. Corman," both Roger and his wife/producer Julie talk about starting off New World on the right foot and their own ingredients for the series, including the fact that the girls always had to solve their own problems and the integration of political elements like news voiceovers in the background. Julie also has some great observations about women's liberation at the time and society's restrictions, such as the fact that she herself couldn't get a credit card in her own name because she was married. No theatrical trailers are included for any of the films, but they are available on various other drive-in trailer collections. All of these films were previously released on DVD by Corman's New Horizons label, but these were essentially bare bones and featured atrocious transfers from very dated, full frame video masters (several of which were actually cropped instead of open matte). They also appeared in unauthorized, watermarked transfers with even cruddier transfers as part of Infinity's lackluster Presenting Roger Corman's...Best of B*s Collection 2: Naughty Nurses & Tawdry Teachers , which should be avoided at all costs. All four looks infinitely better in the Shout Factory collection with satisfying 1.78:1 anamorphic transfers, rich colors, appropriate film grain levels in the darker scenes, and vastly improved black levels; across the board, it's a major upgrade in every respect. For more information about Roger Corman's Cult Classics: The Nurses Collection, visit Shout! Factory. by Nathaniel Thompson

Quotes

Trivia

Notes

The film's working titles were Young L. A. Nurses, The Young Nurses and Sunshine Ladies. Private Duty Nurses was one of several "nurses" films produced by Roger Corman. Although there is a copyright statement for New World Productions, Inc. on the film, Private Duty Nurses was not registered for copyright. George Armitage's onscreen credit reads "written and directed by" and John Armitage's credit reads "Assistant editor, Properties." Although several songs were heard in the film, their names and composers have not been identified. A Modern source adds Brent Armitage to the cast. Private Duty Nurses marked the feature film debut of television actor Herbert Jefferson, Jr. and the directorial debut of Armitage.

Miscellaneous Notes

Released in United States Winter January 1, 1972

Released in United States Winter January 1, 1972