Four Girls in White (1939)

Four Girls in White is a medical dramedy centered around four girls in nursing school, completing their training at the local (read as: average) metropolitan hospital.

(via hollywoodposterauction.com)

Florence Rice (“Norma”), Una Merkel (“Gertie”), Ann Rutherford (“Pat”) and Mary Howard (“Mary”) star as the girls who “take your pulse and capture your heart,” according to the film’s tag line. A few of them are serious about nursing, but Norma is in it only to get her “M-r-s. degree” and find herself a doctor to wed. She soon sets her sights on attractive surgeon Steve, portrayed by Alan Marshal.

A whole lot of drama arises in the hospital, with some comedic relief provided by Buddy Ebsen and Una Merkel. Predictably, love triangles ensue, all involving the man-crazy Norma.

The character of Norma is quite unlikable – a selfish girl who cares only about her own romantic life, with no regard as to how her actions will affect her fellow nurses or her patients. Despite Rice’s beauty and performance efforts, it is hard to feel any of the sympathy that the filmmakers intended for her as things begin to go sour.

Still, the performances of the ensemble cast are generally well-executed. Mary Howard and Una Merkel are the most impressive, though the disdain that the viewer feels for Rice’s scheming character is also a marker of a good performance. It isn’t as easy as it may seem to make the audience dislike you when you’re a pretty girl dressed up in glamorous clothes, desperate to find love — but Rice succeeds.

While the mix of dramatic and comedic moments makes for a fairly realistic portrayal of the daily lives of these nurses, the film as a whole is nothing to write home about and can be easily filed under the category of “typical but mildly enjoyable.” The level of suspense picks up near the end when an unexpected disaster strikes, but it isn’t enough to push Four Girls in White into the realm of greatness. The score: 2.5/5

Advertisements