THE YOUNG NURSES: The Earnest, Mellow Side Of Sexploitation

If there’s a film that qualifies as the “modest but worthwhile” entry of the New World Pictures nurse-flick series, it would be The Young Nurses.  Though it hits all the right New World Pictures exploitation marks – a little action, a lot of nudity, a decent helping of left-leaning social commentary – it’s a bit more subdued in its pursuit of the now-solidified formula.  However, that doesn’t make it a bad entry.  Though it moves at a cruise-controlled speed, this film delivers the goods in the tried and true New World style.

As is always the case with a New World nurse flick, The Young Nurses adopts a triptych plotting style to chronicle the adventures of its three nurse heroines.  Joanne (Ashley Porter) is the medical crusader of the group, the one who moonlights at a free clinic and also does doctor’s work when enough physicians aren’t on hand.  The latter habit gets her in trouble when an emergency patient suffers adverse effects from her care.  Kitty (Jean Manson) falls in love with a rich kid patient whose domineering father is browbeating him into a sailing race that might endanger his healing.  Michelle (Angela Gibbs) spends her spare time researching a lethal drug making the rounds in neighborhood, a quest that leads back to her own life in a dangerous way.

The end result represents the formula that had become familiar by this point to exploitation movie fans, a curious mix of feminism and left-leaning politics sprinkled into a formula driven by nudity, sex and the occasional burst of violence or action for added spice.  The script was penned by New World regular Howard Cohen and is a sturdy piece of work that makes up what it lacks in originality with a sense of economy.  His work doesn’t offer any real surprises but He keeps the story moving at a nice clip and balances its different plotlines effectively.

The Young Nurses was directed by Clint Kimbrough, an erstwhile actor who had also been in the previous Corman nurse film, Night Call Nurses.  He gives the film a straightforward approach that isn’t as flashy as some of the other entries but gets the job done.  It has a nice look thanks to a lovely beachside setting and glossy photography from another New World regular, Daniel Lecambre.  The film also has a very melodic score by Greg Prestopino that is built around a pretty, almost classical-sounding keyboard motif.

That said, the best part of Kimbrough’s direction is his work with the actors.  The female leads all come across effectively, with Manson’s cute, lighthearted approach acting as a nice balance to the more dramatic work of Porter and Gibbs.  The Young Nurses also boasts a quality supporting cast:  highlights include director Samuel Fuller appearing as a doctor, a few effective scenes from Allan Arbus as an officious administrator and a cameo from the ubiquitous Dick Miller as a hard-hearted cop.

In short, The Young Nurses isn’t as wild or funny as some of the entries in the nurse-flick cycle but it offers an effective example of economical, sharply-paced style that served as the house approach at New World Pictures.

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