Valorie Armstrong stars in NAUGHTY NURSE, directed by Paul Bartel.

Naughty Nurse (1969, Paul Bartel)

Naughty Nurse should be better. Bartel’s direction is outstanding–Jan Oonk’s black and white photography is particularly phenomenal–and he writes some funny material, but it should be better. Bartel seems to think because he’s funny, he doesn’t have to keep Nurse logical. It would have been funnier–and better–if Bartel had kept it all together.

He also has a small problem with the actors. The titular Nurse, Valorie Armstrong, isn’t dynamic. She’s supposed to be bitchy, but she doesn’t have any fun with the bitchiness. Bartel opens with fellow nurse Alix Elias and gives her a fantastic monologue. She overshadows everything–except Oonk’s photography–while she’s talking. Armstrong, once she becomes the focus, has to catch up and she can’t.

The second half–before the final reveal–is a good mix of uncomfortable and funny. Bartel makes Nurse awkward but never too awkward; the direction’s just too strong.

2/3Recommended

CREDITS

Written and directed by Paul Bartel; director of photography, Jan Oonk; produced by Bartel and Katherine Dexter.

Starring Valorie Armstrong (Naughty Nurse), Ron Grathwohl (Naughty Doctor), Christopher St. John (Naughty Cop), Alix Elias (Nurse Dorothy), Dennis Helfend (Nasty Orderly) and Robert Downey Sr. (Desk Clerk).

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