How Barbara Stanwyck Filmed Night Nurse

Click to enlarge each image posted.  Barbara Stanwyck and Ben Lyon watch Clark Gable's ambulance pass by.

Click to enlarge each image posted. Barbara Stanwyck and Ben Lyon watch Clark Gable’s ambulance pass by at the conclusion of Night Nurse. The Dominguez Building tower stands in the far distance.

Night Nurse 01Directed by William Wellman, Night Nurse (1931) is a classic pre-Code Warner Bros. production, loaded with gratuitous scenes of women undressing, men slapping around women, drunken mothers ignoring their children, women Night Nurse 05ainnocently sharing a bed, and a bootlegger who not only escapes the law but literally gets away with murder to expedite the “happy” ending.  Barbara Stanwyck stars as a scrappy nurse with a heart of gold, who roommates with Night Nurse 76another nurse played by Joan Blondell.  Barbara hooks up with a jovial but lethal bootlegger, played by Ben Lyon, to rescue two children from a wealthy, derelict mother, whose chauffeur/lover “Nick,” menacingly played by Clark Gable, plots to kill the children for their trust fund.

The movie concludes with Barbara and Ben driving west down Wilshire Boulevard from the corner of Dunsmuir (above), the same spot where James Cagney drops off Jean Harlow in Public Enemy (1931) (see below).  You can read all about how Harlow and Cagney filmed many Public Enemy scenes along Wilshire Boulevard at this post HERE.

Night Nurse was filmed in fromt of the Wilshire Tower Building, the same spot where two years later James Cagney drops off Jean Harlow in Public Enemy (1933). The Oscar Balzer store (oval) appears in each image.

Night Nurse was filmed across from the Wilshire Tower Building, aka Desmond’s, at 5500-5528 Wilshire Boulveard, the same spot where James Cagney drops Jean Harlow off  in Public Enemy (1931). The Oscar Balzer store (oval) appears in each image. California State Library.

Night Nurse 37While driving along during the closing scene, Ben explains to Barbara that he told a couple of pals that he didn’t like Clark Gable’s character Nick very much, implying he had Nick taken for a ride.  Just then, they stop to watch an ambulance race by, unaware that it is taking Nick’s lifeless body to the morgue.

As Clark Gable's ambulance turns east from ;;;;;, we get a clear view west down Wilshire towards the Ralph's Market building on Hauser.  The Pig 'N Whistle restaurant's roof top sign appears during the shot.  Two years later, in Public Enemy, Jean Harlow and James Cagney drive past the same building.  You can read Pig 'N Whistle on the awning (oval).  LAPL.

As Clark Gable’s ambulance turns east from Burnside onto Wilshire, upper right, we get a clear view west down Wilshire towards the Ralph’s Market building on Hauser. The Pig ‘N Whistle restaurant’s roof top sign (oval) appears during the shot, above a painted “Ralph’s” sign on the wall. Jean Harlow and James Cagney drive by the same Pig ‘N Whistle restaurant (see awning sign, oval) in Public Enemy. LAPL.

Night Nurse begins with a frantic point of view shot filmed from within an ambulance as it races home, turning wildly right, then left, then right, then left and right again, until the vehicle comes to rest at the emergency room back entrance of California Hospital, located at 1414 South Hope Street.  The brick building appearing in the movie was completed in 1926, and demolished in 2000 after being damaged by the 1994 Northridge earthquake. A modern facility stands at the site today.

Travelin west along Venice Boulevard, the ambulance turns right at Grand, left at 15th Street, right at Catesby Lane, then left into the hospital receiving area.

Traveling west along Venice Boulevard, the ambulance turns right at Grand, left at 15th Street, right at Catesby Lane, then left into the hospital receiving area. The top left image looks west down Venice, the middle image looks north up Grand, and the bottom image looks west down 15th.

Looking west down Venice Boulevard we see the extant Finner Building at 1601 S. Hope Street, and the back of the extant Essex Apartment building (red oval).  USC Digital Library.

Click to enlarge. Looking west down Venice Boulevard we see the extant Frank Dillin Building at 1601 S. Hope Street, and the back of the extant Essex Apartment building (box). USC Digital Library.

This view looks west up 15th Street (arrow) towards Hope Street before the ambulance turns right onto Catesby Lane.  The same palm tree standing at the corner of California Hospital is marked in each image.  LAPL.

This view looks west up 15th Street (arrow) towards Hope Street before the ambulance turns right onto Catesby Lane, running behind the hospital. The same palm tree standing at the corner is marked in each image. LAPL.

Looking north, this 1950s aerial view shows the ambulance's path.  The box marks the extant Finn Building and the Essex Apartments on Hope Street. USC Digital Library

Looking north, this 1960s aerial view shows the ambulance’s path. The box marks the extant Frank Dillin Building and the Essex Apartments standing on opposing corners on Hope Street. USC Digital Library.

A contemporary view - California Hospital has been greatly remodeled.  The box marks the Finn Building and Essex Apartments on Hope Street.  (C) Microsoft Corporation.

A contemporary view – California Hospital has been greatly remodeled. The box marks the Frank Dillin Building and Essex Apartments on opposing corners on Hope Street. (C) 2014 Nokia. (C) 2014 Microsoft Corporation. Pictometry Bird’s Eye (C) 2012 Pictometry International Corp.

Night Nurse (C) 1931 Warner Bros.  Vintage photos from the Los Angeles Public Library, the USC Digital Library, and the California State Library.  Color views Google Street View (C) 2014 Google.

Looking east down Wilshire towards Dunsmuir today.

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4 Responses to How Barbara Stanwyck Filmed Night Nurse

  1. Pingback: The Pre-Code Blogathon: Day 4 | shadowsandsatin

  2. Loved checking out all of these shots, John! Thanks for another great post!

  3. Kim says:

    Wow, very cool piece. I always love trying to figure out where filming locations are in the modern world (especially since LA has changed a lot in certain places), and this one is particularly of interest to me because I live about a mile away from Wilshire/Hauser. Thanks for sharing!

  4. I was just in LA for the TCM festival and I wish I had checked out your site first – so awesome1

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