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Night Shift
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Synopsis for
Night Shift (1982) More at IMDbPro »

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The movie opens with pimp Franklin (Julius LeFlore) being chased through the New York City night by gangsters Cleon (Badja Djola) and Pig (Richard Belzer). They catch him and punish him for not giving them a cut of his prostitution profits by dropping him out a high-rise window. As the body is transported to the New York City morgue by hearse, the credits roll.

The next day one of Frankin's girls, Belinda (Shelley Long) identifies his body as morgue attendant Chuck Lumley (Henry Winkler) looks on. Belinda remarks that the loss of Frankin will be hard on his girls, then notes that Chuck looks familiar. Chuck is embarrassed as he is afraid the detective taking Belinda's statement may think that he is one of her customers.

That evening as he is going home Chuck is told by his boss (Floyd Levine) that he is being moved to the night shift to make room for the bosse's nephew. Chuck, being an introverted milk-toast, puts up no protest, though it is clear that he is annoyed. Chuck's neurotic, diet-obsessed, fianc, Charlotte (Gina Hecht) tells him that he should be more aggressive and speak up for himself.,

Chuck starts his first night shift and has to train a new partner: Bill Blazejowski (Michael Keaton). Bill is an irrepressible character who talks constantly and thinks of himself as an idea man. He is continually making notes to himself on his portable tape recorder, though most of his ideas are silly or impractical. He repeatedly tries to comes up with schemes to make money such as chauffeuring college boy Jeffrey (Clint Howard) on a prom date using a hearse as a limo.

Chuck invites Charlotte over to spend the evening with him on his one night off, but she is unable to get in the mood for love because of a country-western song being played loudly in the next apartment. Chuck knocks at the door to ask them to turn it down and is confronted by a large, muscular man in a cowboy hat. He is rescued from being beaten up when the owner of the apartment, which turns out to be Belinda, intervenes (Cowboy hat is a client). Chuck realizes that Belinda thought he looked familiar because they had passed each other in the hall. Though all ends peacefully, by the time the incident is over Charlotte decides to head home leaving Chuck frustrated.

Chuck comes home one evening to find Belinda injured on the floor of the elevator, struck by a client who did not want to pay. She notes this would not have happened if she had a pimp to watch out for her, but finding a good one is difficult. He helps Belinda back to her apartment, but not before he is mistaken as her attacker by a troop of Bluebirds (girl scouts). Lead by a young girl with a whistle (Shannen Doherty) they surround him and beat him on the head with their boxes of cookies.

On the way to work the next day Chuck confides to Bill about Belinda, and her colleagues, continuing need for a pimp. Bill suggests that they should do it (becoming "Love Brokers") and run it out of the morgue. At first Chuck dismisses this, but when he gets back to his apartment that morning, Belinda knocks on his door and suggests they have breakfast together. While Chuck is on the phone with Charlotte, he watches Belinda prepare them eggs in his kitchen. As the kitchen is hot, she decides to take off her robe. Chuck forgets completely about Charlotte hanging up the phone on her as he is totally absorbed watching Belinda fry eggs wearing nothing but a baby-doll top and a pair of bikini panties.

Chuck, trying to find some way to get in her favor mentions Bill's idea of them working a "love brokers" for Belinda and the other girls. She is pleased at the idea.

At first the operation works well, with Chuck and Bill only taking 10 percent of girls money (as opposed to the 90% often taken by pimps). Chuck also uses his financial skills (he worked on Wall Street until he found the job too competitive and stressful) to get the girls invested in a business. The only problem comes one night when things get out of control when Bill uses the morgue to allow some college fraternity members (one portrayed by a young Kevin Costner) to party with the girls.

Bill, Chuck and the girls celebrate their success at an end-of-the-year party. Afterward Chuck takes Belinda home and as they are saying goodnight, they wind up kissing, and then making love. The next evening Chuck comes to work late, but very happy. He tells Bill he can expect that Belinda will not be taking any more jobs and is stunned when she shows up for an evening of work. They argue and we get the feeling that Belinda would give up her work if Chuck was willing to tell her he loved her (which he is too whimpy to do). Bill takes Belinda to her evenings assignment while Chuck sits back at the morgue and broods.

When Belinda and Bill arrive at the location where she is to meet the client she is crying and Bill offers to take her home and find some way to placate the customer. She agrees.

Back at the morgue, Cleon and Pig have shown up and are very angry at not getting a cut of Bill and Chuck's operation. They strap Chuck to a lab table and are about to kill him by putting a fire hose down his throat and turning it on when Bill arrives back at the morgue with two men he thinks are potential customers. They are really vice cops and a gunfight breaks out between them and the gangsters with bullets flying all around a helpless Chuck.

The cops eventually win the battle, but Bill and Chuck's operation has been exposed and they wind up in jail. Charlotte appears and at first Chuck is elated thinking that she has come to standby him, only to have her spit on him and tell him she never wants to see him again.

The girls bail Bill and Chuck out. At their lawyer's office they are told that the city administration, embarrassed by the incident, will give them their old jobs back so they can sweep everything under the rug. Chuck is ecstatic at this, but is angered by Bill's intention to try and use the incident to get money out of the city in blackmail. Chuck angrily tells Bill he wants his own life to the way it was before they met.

A few days later Chuck and Belinda meet outside their apartments. He tells her he is back at his old job and she tells him she is starting a new job (but doing the same thing) at an upscale pleasure club called Paradise Found. She also tells him this is goodbye as she is moving out of her apartment at the end of the week.

As she leaves for work Chuck is approached by a surly deliveryman (Vincent Schiavelli) with his dinner. When Chuck complains that he did not order mustard on his sandwich, the deliveryman takes the bread off the top and wipes the mustard down Chuck's doorpost, then puts the sandwich back together. This is the final straw and Chuck loses it demanding another sandwich and cowing the deliveryman, though he is physically much bigger.

This makes Chuck realize that the only way he is going to get the things that he wants in life is to stand up for himself. He decides he wants Belinda and runs across town to Paradise Found. Bullying his way past the doorman he searches the club for Belinda. He runs into Bill who is now working there as a somewhat incompetent towel boy. Chuck finally spots Belinda reluctantly talking to a customer (Jim Staahl). Chuck rushes to her, telling her he needs to speak to her about something. This annoys the customer who pushes Chuck to the floor. Seeing his friend in trouble, Bill tries to leap on the customer from the second floor balcony and misses, hitting the floor. The customer leaves to complain the manager. After checking to see that Bill is okay, Chuck works up the nerve to tell Belinda he loves her. When the manager arrives he berates Bill and Belinda. Chuck confronts him telling him he cannot do this to his friends and pushes the manager into the club's pool. The three friends then run from club into the New York night. As the credits role we realize that Belinda and Chuck will be starting a new life together.


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