The Young Nurses (1973)
Director: Clint Kimbrough
Writers: Howard R. Cohen
Starring: Jeane Manson, Ashley Porter and Angela Elayne Gibbs

The Plot: For its plot, The Young Nurses follows the same pattern that we have seen in all of the previously reviewed titles from Shout Factory’s Roger Corman nurses collection. We have three main female protagonists, and each one seems to get into her own wild adventures. In this story, we are introduced to three beautiful nurses, Michelle, Joann, and Kitty. The movie begins with Kitty (Jeane Manson) and Michelle sailing on the open waters, but apparently Kitty’s topless sunbathing can be seen as a health hazard, because fellow sailing aficionado Matt nearly drowns after hitting his head on a sail while staring at Kitty’s breasts. As Matt recuperates in the hospital, Kitty soon finds herself approaching a relationship with the young man, but the two run into some trouble when Matt’s father tries to intervene. Next up is Michelle (Angela Elayne Gibbs), who is an African American nurse trying to progress in her field while retaining her roots. When she stumbles upon a influx in narcotics that seem to be pouring out of the hospital system, she finds out that the conspiracy may go further than expected. Joann (Ashley Porter) is our final part of the equation, and she too is facing a political nightmare. As a young idealistic nurse, she finds that her dreams are being crushed by the system. She is continually accused of trying to pretend that she is a doctor, but this is only due to the bureaucracy of the hospital which has led to staff numbers being drastically cut. So, in order to save lives, Joann has been forced to make several quick decisions. Will she continue to work for a hospital that treats her abusively, or will she join her friend who runs an unlicensed medical clinic that is attempting to help and inform other women?

The Review
With this review of The Young Nurses, I finish the nurses collection from Shout! Factory, and I feel a touch of sadness at the thought of this most-recent run with New World Pictures coming to a close. Roger Corman, despite everything that could possibly be said about the man and his productions, knew his audience. He tapped into the fetishistic nature of the male fantasy about female nurses, and he managed to amplify that without stepping into incredibly sleazy territories. The Young Nurses, which probably takes its name from the 1961 film The Young Doctors, is roughly everything that you expect from this genre. All of the products of the genre are in place, but does it manage to live up to expectations? As I have mentioned throughout this series, where we looked at Candy Stripe Nurses, Night Call Nurses, and Private Duty Nurses, what often separates these titles are the small little idiosyncrasies. The small little bits of fun or nostalgia have proven to be the saving grace within this subgenre, and The Young Nurses is no different. A title that doesn’t look to innovate, The Young Nurses at least manages to entertain its audience by dipping it’s feet into some generally silly waters.

The Young Nurses turns out to be a middle-of-the-road nurse movie, but it is certainly a title that lies further on the “good” side of the road than the “bad.” As it turns out, it is one of the movies within the subgenre that actually seems to get the memo in terms of what manages to make these sex comedies work so well. The comedy is an integral part of the formula and when that is downplayed in favor of drama, these movies do indeed suffer. Thankfully, the cast of The Young Nurses all seem to get the comedy that is at work in this picture. Among this talented cast of young people is also one familiar face that movie geeks may recognize. In one of the most shocking cameos that comes to mind, director Samuel Fuller actually pops up in a small role during this movie. A “cameo” is likely an understatement, because even though he only has a few scenes in the movie, his role turns out to be quite important. His turning up is by far the biggest surprise of the movie. A talented actor, as well as one of the most respected directors to ever live, it seems that the majority of Fuller’s dialogue was entirely improvised. He enters into the screen with a certain amount of bravado, and his small performance is indicative of the other cast members as well. Despite their unfamiliar faces, the majority of the cast members are fairly decent in their roles. The only performer who I didn’t feel had the same charisma going was probably Angela Elayne Gibbs, who played Michelle, as she seemed a little dry in this early performance.

Although the comedy is a key ingredient for a movie such as this one, there needs to be at least a little sleaze along the way. For instance, there are some interesting scenes where we watch as a group of girls use a speculum in order to give themselves their own gynecology exam. This makes for some very peculiar stuff. Such things are certainly exploitative, due to the lingering shots (that are not explicit, but are strategically blocked not to show anything), even though these scenes are not sexy in the least. Aside from the tiny exploitative moments, this movie certainly does deliver on the requisite nudity that is expected of the genre. While the girls are all sexy and do get considerably undressed during the film, most of this nudity isn’t exactly “hot” or passionate. It is almost all silly topless scenes that are played for fun. There is a physical therapy/hot tub sequence that borders on erotic, but most of this is shot from a very plain point of view. The biggest exception seems to come in the form of a drug induced orgy that Michelle (Angela Elayne Gibbs) is led into. The sequence may not feature much in the way of suggestive sexual movement, but it is one of the few times you will see pubic hair in these movies. As far as I am aware, Corman liked to stay away from full frontal as much as possible.

Similar to the other movies on this set, The Young Nurses tries to balance the silliness of its comedic roots with some underlying political subtext. While this film doesn’t go to the lengths that Private Duty Nurses did, it does feature more than one story that contains themes that are tied into the youth culture ideals of the era. From the main stories present, we of course have the requisite woman-of-color who fights against the enforcement of drugs in urban areas. This is expected at this point, but there is also a story that seems to focus on female empowerment within the work place. We see a young nurse fighting with the hospital’s male authority, who essentially refuse to do their own jobs, and this ultimately means that the young nurse must step up and do their jobs herself. This then gets her in trouble with the older female nurse who runs her ward, who represents the women who hold onto older ideals rather than progressing forward. This character turns out to be a caricature of sorts, but it is hard to get too upset in a movie with so much silliness and nudity thrown around.

The Conclusion
Even though it isn’t the best movie on the set, The Young Nurses is entertaining enough to warrant a purchase by itself. As it stands, viewers just happen to get a lot more bang for their buck. A worth addition to any collection, I give The Young Nurses a solid three out of five.