|Private Duty Nurses (1971)|
|Starring:||Katherine Cannon, Joyce Williams and Pegi Boucher|
|The Plot: Private Duty Nurses doesn’t really look to change around the formula when it comes to its plot. Similar to the other films found in the Roger Corman nurses collection from Shout Factory (such as Night Call Nurses and Candy Stripe Nurses), this is a story about three nurses who each have their own stories to tell. In this story we are introduced to Spring (Katherine Cannon), who is persuaded by a doctor to become involved with the Vietnam veteran Domino (Dennis Redfield). A young patient who is fresh back in regular society, but finds it hard to cope with his regular life after the war. He has now turned to motocross riding, and has been taking some extreme risks. Next up is Lola (Joyce Williams), an African American nurse who runs into many prejudices due to her ethnicity and her sex. As she attempts to help her boyfriend get hired into a all-white hospital, she runs into racism and sexism at every turn. Finally we have Lynn, who becomes embroiled in a conspiracy that may very well bring down some of the political elites found in their city.
Private Duty Nurses does have a decent amount of political subtext to go with its melodrama, which isn’t really a surprise. This ultimately gives the movie a much more serious tone than the rest of the titles in this Nurses collection. Although each tackled some light political intrigue in their own way, Private Duty Nurses generally eschews the mischievous side of these political stories. Instead, the politics seem more like life or death situations. Granted, the movie still veers into silliness at times, but the effects of Vietnam are shown to have tremendous effect on everyone around our central characters. One of the girls is thrown into the awkward position, by a lead doctor on the ward, to keep an eye on a young man named Domino who is back from Vietnam with a plate in his head. This character has become reckless it seems due to a slight case of post-traumatic-stress syndrome. This is a fairly early look at this very common disorder, and it is treated with a decent amount of respect. It is never called by this name, but he is a young man who is obviously have a great deal of difficulty dealing with the rational world. As would be expected a love story blossoms, but nearly every scene between these two is marred with discussions of Vietnam. There’s also the situation revolving around the African American characters who are legitimate medical professionals, but are cut off at every corner due to their skin color. Their situation is expected, as it fits into the pattern of these nurse movies, but the mix of general sociological issues makes this the most thoughtful film within the set. That also means that some of the humor and the fun are gone from the movies, which is ultimately what ends up hurting the project.