6.1/10
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Good Night, Nurse! (1918)

Roscoe's wife wants him committed to the No Hope Sanitarium for a cure from drink. He is greeted by blood spattered, cleaver-wielding Buster and a barely clad female patient. He eats a thermometer and must be rushed into surgery.

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Cast

Complete credited cast:
...
...
Dr. Hampton / woman with umbrella
...
Surgeon's Assistant
Alice Lake ...
Crazy Woman
Joe Bordeaux ...
(as Joe Bordeau)
...
Nurse
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Storyline

An inebriated man stands in front of a drug store during a rain storm trying to light a cigarette. Back at his home, his wife and butler see a report on the No Hope Clinic's success curing alcoholics. When hubby arrives home, bringing two gypsies and their monkey, his wife insists it's time for the clinic. Once there, he gets a look at various surgeries, and he wants out - assisted at first by a woman who believes she's a mermaid. He pretends to drown, he dresses as a woman, and, when running away, he inadvertently joins the town's annual fat man foot race. But can he outrun the men in white coats? Written by <jhailey@hotmail.com>

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Genres:

Comedy | Short

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Release Date:

8 July 1918 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Buenas noches, enfermera  »

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Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Unusual in that Buster Keaton smiles on-camera. See more »

Goofs

When Fatty rests against a freshly numbered telephone pole, the number is transferred to the back of his shirt. However, the result is an identical copy of the original whereas it should really be a mirror image. See more »

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User Reviews

 
Did I see this movie, or did I dream it?
26 January 2006 | by (Westchester County, NY) – See all my reviews

I tend to enjoy the comedies made by Buster Keaton and Roscoe Arbuckle during Buster's movie-making apprenticeship, but I can also see how they may not be to everyone's taste. Compared to Buster's later solo work these early films are primitive in technique and content, haphazardly structured, and at times vulgar, but even so, at their best they have a wild unpredictability and a kind of loopy charm that grows on you after you've seen a few of them. You never know where the story is going, and you sense that the filmmakers didn't know either, that they were making up everything as they went along, and this quality can be refreshing and exhilarating. Usually, anyhow.

I first saw Good Night, Nurse! as part of a Keaton retrospective at NYC's Film Forum in the early 1990s, but the print shown on that occasion was in poor condition and obviously incomplete, so much so that the story was incoherent. At one point I even wondered if the surviving pieces of the film had been spliced back together in the wrong sequence. Now that the movie has been restored from better components for its DVD release, I realize it was a bizarre piece of work to begin with, a dark comedy with a very loose plot that unfolds like a disjointed dream.

The film begins with an extended storm sequence. We find a drunken Roscoe teetering about in front of a corner drug store, trying to light a cigarette in the wind. (Watch closely as a woman with an umbrella is blown Roscoe's way by the storm -- that's Buster in drag!) When Roscoe finally makes his way home, bringing along an Italian organ-grinder, a gypsy dancer, and a trained monkey, his long-suffering wife decides that an intervention is in order, and checks Roscoe into the No Hope Sanitarium. There we meet crazed inmate Alice Lake, Al St. John in a dual role as both a doctor and a patient swathed in bandages, and most strikingly of all, young Buster Keaton as Dr. Hampton, who suavely enters the operating room in a bloody smock, sharpening a pair of steak knives. Soon Roscoe has swallowed a thermometer, provoked a frenzied pillow fight among the patients, and donned a nurse's uniform to flirt with Dr. Hampton. If you've never seen Buster smile on screen, check out the flirtation sequence here, where he matches Roscoe grin-for-grin. Eventually, Roscoe escapes from the sanitarium and everyone winds up outside, participating for a cross-country marathon race. (Again, it feels like a dream: "Then suddenly we were all outside, running a marathon," etc.) The race sequence is topped with a final surprise twist that isn't actually much of a surprise, but it wraps up the whole imbroglio on an appropriately weird, anti-climactic note. What were you were expecting after all that, a real ending?

In his autobiography Buster devotes a lot of space to the elaborate practical jokes he and his good pal Roscoe Arbuckle used to cook up, when they were on top of the world and full of youthful high spirits. Good Night, Nurse! captures the flavor of those heady days as well as any movie they made together. It may not be their best comedy, but it has a wacky, prankster-like quality that's quite appealing for those willing to go along for the ride.


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