Australia, 1978, 75 minutes, Colour.
Davina Whitehouse, Kay Taylor, Kate Fitzpatrick, Gary Day.
Directed by Igor Auzins.
Night Nurse is an entertaining telemovie produced by Robert Bruning. He made several interesting popular telemovies including The Alternative, Mama's Gone A- Hunting. The performances in this film are outstanding, especially New Zealand actress Davina Whitehouse as the central opera star. There is good support from Kate Fitzpatrick in the central role. Direction is by Igor Auzins, who directed many television series episodes, the detective telemovie Death Train and the road film, High Rolling. He later directed the television series Water Under the Bridge and We of the Never Never. The film is in the tradition of Whatever Happened To Baby Jane, Rebecca and other mansion horror thrillers. Enjoyable and effective of its kind.
1. The impact of the telemovie thriller? Interest, puzzle, suspense? Home entertainment?
2. Atmosphere and locations: the mansion and its rooms, the contrast with the boat and the harbour? Colour photography? The importance of technique for atmosphere, tracking and close-ups, shocks and suspense? Sets and decor? Musical score and atmosphere?
3. The influence of horror films as Whatever Happened To Baby Jane, Rebecca? The transplanting of these conventions to the Australian setting? The homage to these films? Derivation, originality?
4. The atmosphere of the opening with the threats, Clara and her murder, hiding the body and burying it? The later discovery? The audience unclear why a spinster would murder someone? The puzzle, the violent tone, the enigma of Clara?
5. The film's focus on Diva - her 40 years in the house, the memories of her success, newspaper memories, the records? Her continually playing the records and singing? Her staying at home, her being crippled? Her seeming to be a victim of Clara? Her maternal manner? Her attitude towards visitors? The interview for the hiring of Prudence, the discussion her being treated well by Prudence? The background of fame and style? The reading of Treasure Island? Her disability, the massage? The posing for Rick and the painting? The clues and hints about Bessie and the puzzle? The encounter with Rick and his painting, discussions, her summoning him, tempting him? Revealing this to Prue? Her meals? Her acting? The question of her will and leaving things to Prue? Games and performance? The meal and the discovery of Diva and Clara re-enacting the past? The growing pressure on Prue? The visit to the cellar? Clara's death? Rick's corpse? Bessie's skeleton? The pressure on Prue to take Clara's place? The revelation of Diva's evil, manipulation, madness? The temptation of the final offer but her leaving the house? Diva abandoned? A character sketch of a mad woman?
6. Initial antipathy towards Clara? Her role as a maid, her fussiness, the killing and the burying? The drugs for Diva and for Prue? The details of her petty antagonism towards Prue? Nine o'clock, meals, serving? Growing nastiness? The fish, the breakfasts, the talk?The growing threats? The puzzle about visitors in the house? The revelation that Clara would play Diva's? The meals and the transformation of Clara? Her gradual self-assertion? The truth about the paintings? Their going to the cellar, attempt to kill Prue, her death? The pathos of the greedy and evil servant being excluded from her goals?
7. Prue as the night nurse? ordinary young woman? Her arrival, interview, strength of purpose, especially against Clara? Her quarrels with Rick and leaving him? Their talking together - and revelation of character? Her enabling Rick to paint Diva's portrait? Her work in the house, reading Treasure Island, timetables? Winning against Clara? The growing puzzles, the reading, the drugs? Her seeing Diva as victim and her growing admiration for her? The fish? The vacuum-cleaning and Clara's persecuting her and not letting her sleep? The discovery of the fake paintings? The discovery that Rick had accepted the ticket to go to Florence? The puzzle about the visitors, the will? The build-up to the dinner and the madness in her participation? Her going to the cellar and the discovery of the bodies, Clara’s attempt on her life? The temptation for her to stay and continue the games with Diva? Her decision to leave?
8. The sketch of Rick: the callow artist, selfish, sexual liaison with Prue, painting Diva, the discovery of the forgeries, the ticket for Florence after the discussion with Diva, his death and Diva's explanation of his selfishness?
9. Marsden and the art dealings at the beginning, his brutal murder? The visit of the doctor and lawyer and Diva's use of them? Their phone calls?
10. The revelation of the true story and the reason for the games and Diva's plan? Madness and menace?
11. The melodrama of the plot? The blend of conventions and realism? Themes of madness, reputation, power, greed? Effective horror entertainment?