Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Tonight's Movie: The Nurse's Secret (1941)

I watched the first few minutes of THE NURSE'S SECRET with a sense of deja vu, as Nurse Ruth Adams (Lee Patrick) was called to care for an elderly patient (Clara Blandick) in a mansion where a murder had occurred.

It wasn't until Police Inspector Tom Patten (Regis Toomey) called the nurse "Miss Pinkerton" that the light dawned! This 66-minute programmer was a remake of the 1932 film MISS PINKERTON, which I saw last September. MISS PINKERTON starred George Brent as the police detective and Joan Blondell as the nurse.

THE NURSE'S SECRET is a solid little programmer -- nothing special, but the mystery is diverting enough to pass an hour. Like MISS PINKERTON, it was based on a novel by Mary Roberts Rinehart. There's a wonderful opening credits graphic with the silhouette of a woman shining a flashlight up and down -- very NANCY DREW.

When Joan Blondell starred in MISS PINKERTON she was in her 20s, while George Brent was in his early 30s. THE NURSE'S SECRET casts a more mature couple in the leads -- Patrick was 39 when the movie was released, and Toomey was in his early 40s. Instead of meeting during the murder investigation, the film establishes that the couple has previously been dating.

Patrick is perky and energetic; Toomey is a favorite of mine, but he's a bit cut-and-dried in the lead role, with nothing special in either the script or his acting to make his character stand out. He made the most of other roles, such as his police lieutenant in CRY DANGER (1951).

The movie was directed by Noel M. Smith. The supporting cast includes Julie Bishop, Ann Edmonds, and Charles Waldron. Look for Faye Emerson in a small role.

THE NURSE'S SECRET is not out on VHS or DVD, but has been shown on Turner Classic Movies. TCM has the trailer available on its website.


Blogger barrylane said...

Toomey has a good moment towards The High And The Mighty's end. As a leading man, despite his attractive persona, he was lacking. As a character man, many memorable performances. Often with Dick Powell on television.

6:50 AM  
Blogger Laura said...

Having seen Toomey in a number of films including as a pre-Code leading man, that sounds like a fair assessment. I love him as a character actor and am always happy to see his face on screen. Enjoyed him in a supporting role in LAW OF THE TROPICS just a few days ago.

I learned from June Allyson's book that Toomey was Powell's best friend -- he was godparent to one of their children. Besides his terrific part in CRY DANGER, Toomey also turns up in Powell's films STATION WEST and THE TALL TARGET.

Best wishes,

8:43 AM  
Blogger Raquel Stecher said...

That's funny! I had a similar dejavu experience with two other films. The second one ended up being a remake of the first. I saw Miss Pinkerton recently. It was okay, made a lot better I thought by Joan Blondell who I really enjoy watching on screen. Not sure I want to watch another version of the same story but good to know one is available!

9:20 AM  
Blogger Laura said...

That's funny you had the same experience, Raquel! I kept thinking "Why do I feel like I've seen this before?" when I knew I'd never seen the movie! LOL.

I agree, MISS PINKERTON -- like the sequel -- was okay, no great shakes but it was a pleasant enough hour or so; it's worth seeing either version if one likes the leads.

Best wishes,

9:27 AM  

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