Directed by William Wellman, Night Nurse (1931) is a classic pre-Code Warner Bros. production, loaded with gratuitous scenes of women undressing, men slapping women around, drunken mothers ignoring their children, women innocently sharing a bed, and a bootlegger who not only escapes the law but literally gets away with murder to expedite the “happy” ending. Barbara Stanwyck stars as a scrappy nurse with a heart of gold, who roommates with another nurse played by Joan Blondell. Barbara hooks up with a jovial but lethal bootlegger, played by Ben Lyon, to rescue two children from a wealthy, derelict mother, whose chauffeur/lover “Nick,” menacingly played by Clark Gable, plots to kill the children for their trust fund.
The movie concludes with Barbara and Ben driving west down Wilshire Boulevard from the corner of Dunsmuir (above), the same spot where James Cagney drops off Jean Harlow in Public Enemy (1931) (see below). You can read all about how Harlow and Cagney filmed many Public Enemy scenes along Wilshire Boulevard at this post HERE.
While driving along during the closing scene, Ben explains to Barbara that he told a couple of pals that he didn’t like Clark Gable’s character Nick very much, implying he had Nick taken for a ride. Just then, they stop to watch an ambulance race by, unaware that it is taking Nick’s lifeless body to the morgue.
Night Nurse begins with a frantic point of view shot filmed from within an ambulance as it races home, turning wildly right, then left, then right, then left and right again, until the vehicle comes to rest at the emergency room back entrance of California Hospital, located at 1414 South Hope Street. The brick building appearing in the movie was completed in 1926, and demolished in 2000 after being damaged by the 1994 Northridge earthquake. A modern facility stands at the site today.
Night Nurse (C) 1931 Warner Bros. Vintage photos from the Los Angeles Public Library, the USC Digital Library, and the California State Library. Color views Google Street View (C) 2014 Google.
Looking east down Wilshire towards Dunsmuir today.
Pingback: The Pre-Code Blogathon: Day 4 | shadowsandsatin
Loved checking out all of these shots, John! Thanks for another great post!
Wow, very cool piece. I always love trying to figure out where filming locations are in the modern world (especially since LA has changed a lot in certain places), and this one is particularly of interest to me because I live about a mile away from Wilshire/Hauser. Thanks for sharing!
I was just in LA for the TCM festival and I wish I had checked out your site first – so awesome1
I am curious where the drug store (46:30 mark) and Finklebergs Delicatessen (59:30 mark) scenes were filmed.