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Vigil in the Night (1940)

Approved | | Drama | 9 February 1940 (USA)
1:50 | Trailer
A nurse loses her job after selflessly taking the blame for a fatal mistake her sister and co-worker made; she is subsequently employed at a poorly-equipped hospital, where she finds romance and tragedy.


George Stevens


Fred Guiol (screenplay), P.J. Wolfson (screenplay) | 2 more credits »





Complete credited cast:
Carole Lombard ... Anne Lee
Brian Aherne ... Dr. Robert S. Prescott
Anne Shirley ... Lucy Lee
Julien Mitchell Julien Mitchell ... Matthew Bowley
Robert Coote ... Dr. Caley
Brenda Forbes ... Nora Dunn
Rita Page ... Glennie
Peter Cushing ... Joe Shand
Ethel Griffies ... Matron East
Doris Lloyd ... Mrs. Martha Bowley
Emily Fitzroy ... Sister Gilson


Nurse Anne Lee blames herself for a fatal mistake of her sister Lucy, who also is a nurse. Anne loses her job, and gets a new one at a poorly equipped country hospital. There she falls in love with Dr. Prescott, who is battling with Mr. Bowly, the chairman of the local hospital board, who also makes Anne's life miserable. But then a virulent epidemic begins... Written by Stephan Eichenberg <eichenbe@fak-cbg.tu-muenchen.de>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis




Approved | See all certifications »

Did You Know?


A contemporary article in The Hollywood Reporter noted RKO bought the film rights to the novel by A.J. Cronin specifically as a vehicle for Carole Lombard. See more »


Mr. Bowley's first name is spelled with one T on his bank check and two T's in the credits. See more »


Anne Lee: It's not futile Doctor, it's glorious. We work for all. Some live and some die. How often we've seen two people, both with the same disease, come into the hospital. Both with the same power of resistance. There turn in the night, one dies, the other lives. It isn't science. It isn't medicine. We do everything we can for them an it's something more. Who watches and reasons who's to live and who's to die. Its not for us to be bitter and criticize his judgement. We're here to serve and if we do it...
See more »

Alternate Versions

The version shown in Europe has a slightly different ending: the radio in Dr. Prescott's room can be heard. On it, British Prime Minister Nevil Chamberlain is explaining that Hitler has refused to withdraw his troops from Poland and therefore a state of war exists between Germany and Great Britain. The American version has no such radio message in it and a shot of Anne Lee and Dr. Prescott reacting to the news is missing. See more »


Referenced in Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day (2008) See more »

User Reviews

Thoroughly absorbing
20 October 1999 | by rupieSee all my reviews

It is indeed surprising to see Carol Lombard in a serious dramatic role, and it shows us the range of her talents. We thus mourn her early demise all the more deeply.

Maltin is correct in that good acting and direction here save a potentially sentimental script from descending into bathos. In fact, the explosiveley dramatic start undergirds the whole story and gives it an impetus that keeps us involved throughout. The movie wears its age well, and is well worth seeing.

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Release Date:

9 February 1940 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Vigil in the Night See more »


Box Office


$920,000 (estimated)
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Company Credits

Production Co:

RKO Radio Pictures See more »
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Technical Specs


| (Turner library print)

Sound Mix:

Mono (RCA Sound System)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See full technical specs »

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