Watched February 4, 2012

The Purchase Price (1932) and Night Nurse (1931): 4/5 for both

I really enjoyed both of these films, and mostly because of the great performances by Barbara Stanwyck. I’ve watched quite a few of her films this year, and I’m becoming a huge fan! Here are my thoughts of each of these two:

The Purchase Price follows a showgirl who moves to a farm as a mail order bride after leaving a man in New York who wanted to marry her. She is hesitant to embrace life with her new country-fried husband at first, but as the film progresses she grows to love him. However, because of her initial rejection of his advances, he is hesitant to embrace the love that she is finally willing to give him.

Barbara Stanwyck stars as showgirl-turned-farmer Joan Gordon in The Purchase Price

Though it is difficult to understand why Stanwyck’s character would put so much effort into building a relationship with a man who not only seems disinterested in her but is also a bit rude, somehow I still ended up rooting for them as a couple. Stanwyck’s performance is so well-played that she drums up sympathy for her character. You can tell that she wants to make things work with her husband, and because that sympathy is built up, you want it work for them as well.

It is a simple, quite predictable film, but Stanwyck and her fellow cast members make it very enjoyable to watch.

Night Nurse falls more along the lines of mystery and suspense than romantic drama, and it was my favorite of the two films. I’ll try not to give too much away here, but the film as a whole begs the question of whether or not death is a suitable punishment for crimes. Stanwyck and her potential lover/bootlegging friend seem to believe that death is the answer in the crime that they’re dealing with. Depending on where the viewer stands on the issue, the effect of their characters is either triumphant or unsettling.

This film, while featuring many silly scenes at nursing school in the beginning, turns very dramatic. However, a subtle comedy remains in some of the dialogue throughout the remainder of the film, so I wouldn’t completely categorize it as a mystery or thriller. Regardless, it is a very interesting picture, and Joan Blondell steals the show in her small role of B. Maloney, one of Lora Hart’s (Barbara Stanwyck) nurse friends.

Barbara Stanwyck and Joan Blondell star in Night Nurse