Vigil in the Night (1940)
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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.
James Wale,Louis Hayward,Carol Lombard,Laurel and Hardy,George Stevens, Miles Mander,Tim Holt,Cary Grant!,Mae Clarke,Patric Knowles and Albert Decker just to name a few.
In 'Vigil" Cushing plays a supporting role of a hapless small town loser who is in love with Carol Lombard, but its an unrequited love for Carol has thoughts only of her sister's nursing career, and later of handsome Dr Brian Aherene. She turns the whiny Joe Shand (CUSHING) down in a pretty condescending manner, when he proposes marriage to her after she takes the rap for her sister's (Anne Shirley) malpractice death of a Small child who's welfare she had been trusted with. Shirley is seen stuffing her face with tea and crumpets as we cross cut to the child choking to death on his own phlem! Then instead of trying to make some attempt at resuscitating the child she panics and runs out of the hospital to look for her big sister in the nurses dorm to help her beat the rap.
Director George Stevens keeps the movie from falling into a melodramatic soap opera which it would have in less skilled hands. The film is a bit dated, but actually keeps you interested throughout. Its an RKO release so it turns up once in a while on Turner classic movies channel, and is well worth catching or taping if you are a collector of Cushing's films. It should also be of passing interest to fans of director George Stevens and fans of nurse films. RECOMMENDED.
It is definitely spellbinding. Carole handles herself in such a professional manner and and manages to keep her cool in such demanding settings. She plays a good Samaritan for her sister and puts her own career into jeopardy by taking the blame for her student nurse immature sister. She evokes sentiment in women to do what one has to do and not complain about it.For this reason the story in inspirational. It's got nothing of materialism in it, or agendas that aren't uplifting. You feel good about life after watching this wonderful, don't miss, movie. Please make this available to Schools of Nursing.
The Title Vigil in the Night promotes wonderment, because all kinds of things can happen in the night hours. Thanks, MB
Just as that other Cronin work The Citadel is dedicated to the doctors, this one is a shout out to the under-appreciated nurses. Lombard and her sister Shirley are nurses, Lombard a veteran and Shirley just getting started.
When a young diphtheria patient is lost to Shirley's inattention, Lombard takes the rap for her and the film is about Lombard trying to get back to the top of her profession. There's a bit of guilt in Lombard as she feels she may have pressured Shirley to following the same profession. Along the way Lombard meets Brian Aherne who is a similarly dedicated doctor.
They also have to deal with millionaire rake Julien Mitchell who is the head of the hospital board with the power to help and who won't do it, saying they have to economize. He even cites the war as an excuse. As Lombard so graphically points out there's no truce or cease fire in their war against disease.
It's hard to believe that the madcap Carole Lombard of My Man Godfrey is the same stoic nurse in Vigil In the Night. But carry off the role she does. In this film her acting is all in the eyes.
Not as well known as the film adaptions of other A.J. Cronin work like The Keys Of The Kingdom and Hatter's Castle, and The Citadel. But Vigil In The Night can hold its own with any of the other three.
Fine showcase for Lombard's dramatic talents, which are often overlooked because she was such a great comedienne. The cast backing her up helps keep this from descending into hokum, which it easily could have. Brian Aherne is great, as is beautiful Anne Shirley. Brenda Forbes lightens things up as a comic relief nurse. Early role for Peter Cushing. It's really an exceptional film. The kind we're probably too cynical to make anymore. Lombard fans will eat it up. Nurses should like it, as well, since it's ultimately all about admiration for their profession.
Because "vigil in the night" is primarily,essentially ,a tribute to the nurses in England,a tribute to their admirable work,to their courage when they cure infectious patients ,to their war which is never over:for a measly salary (a nurse says) and only half a day off (at best!);today the nurses condition has improved,but their work is not yet given the credit they deserve ,so "vigil" is still relevant in 2012.The scene of the artificial respiration (by Lucy)has got something of Frank Borzage .Most of all ,in the last scenes,George Stevens makes us feel the camaraderie,the solidarity between the nurses.
Due to this death, Lombard isn't able to get a prime job and must settle for a crap-tastic job working 12 hours a day, 6-1/2 days a week at an overwhelmed hospital. But, being so incredibly self-sacrificing and perfect, Lombard accepts this with no complaints and blossoms in this harsh setting--and seems sort of like a combination of Snow White and Gandhi. The simple fact is that the writers made this character too perfect--and one-dimensional in the process.
Next, you see a nurse from the original hospital looking for a job at the hospital in which Lombard now works. This nurse is terribly written and is also quite one-dimensional--simply a talkative jerk. Just as she's in the process of telling Lombard's boss about Lombard's past 'mistake', the bus they are on has an accident--preventing this gossip from ruining Lombard's reputation! This sort of scene can only happen in a film--a poorly written one (despite the novel on which this film was based being penned by the respected A.J. Cronin). I am not sure how much of this is Cronin's fault--perhaps the screenwriter (Fred Guiol) should receive the blame instead. In fact, considering that Cronin was responsible for some excellent films such as "Keys to the Kingdom" and "The Citadel", it would seem more likely that liberties were taken with his story with "Vigil in the Night".
Now that you assume that the long-suffering Lombard has somehow dodged a bullet, wait. It seems that a rich patient is indebted to her but eventually he responds by sexually harassing her. When the man's wife discovers this, instead of bashing the good-for-nothing husband over the head, she forces the hospital to fire Lombard--even though she did nothing wrong! And, being a wonderful martyr in this film, she leaves without any commotion--just accepting the latest indignity like a saint. There's more like this as the film continues, but by this point I had enough. I simply couldn't stand this film any more--it only gets worse with such silly histrionics as Shirley's silly death.
Bad writing and one of the most hilariously badly written characters made this film a major chore to watch. It's a shame, as Miss Lombard was a very talented actress. But, given such sappy bilge, there wasn't much she or anyone could have done with this script. The same, by the way, could be said for the exceptional director, George Stevens. He was better than this--but with this material, you can't make a very good film.
***** Vigil in the Night (2/5/40) George Stevens ~ Carole Lombard, Anne Shirley, Brian Aherne, Peter Cushing