MovieChat Forums > Night NurseĀ (1931) Discussion > Least Likeable Character Joan Blondell E...

Least Likeable Character Joan Blondell Ever Played on Film?


I love Joan Blondell, a great spirited actress who almost always played good-hearted dames but in NIGHT NURSE she plays a rare unsympathetic role, still as sharp with the wisecracks as ever but cold-hearted, she's not a nurse to help people (as Barbara Stanwyck's character does) but she's hoping to land a rich man as a patient. She mouths the Florence Nightingale oath with total boredom as Stanwyck says it with her heart. In the end, she urges Stanwyck not to go with the police to report the child abuse she's seen, that it may jeopardize her future as a nurse and Stanwyck, long thinking her as a friend, has a look of disgust on her face that says it all, clearly this is the end of this "friendship". . Of course, Stanwyck herself has played many "corrupt" women, far more vetal than this nurse of Joan's, but still I was a little surprised to see Joan being so hard-hearted (interesting, the only true villainess I can recall Joan playing would be 30 years later on an episode of - THE BARBARA STANWYCK SHOW again opposite her pal Babs!)

reply

good points, but i think she played it extremely well as written and therefore like her characterization very much.

every time i see this film i watch her more than stanwyck by a large margin.

reply

I agree. I think the Maloney character is very important to the movie and Joan B nails the role.

SPOILER ALERT - Watch the movie before reading what's next

Compared to the other obviously flawed characters, and there are many of those in this movie, Maloney doesn't seem quite so bad. She's a bit cold toward Lora at first but soon becomes a good friend. She looks out for her and helps her in a lot of ways. She's supportive, she backs her up when she fails to report the gunshot wound, she's encouraging, she gets her that night nurse job, she keeps her from passing out during the surgery when she could potentially lose her chance to be a nurse, etc.

That's what's fascinating about Maloney. She's not really a 'bad' person at all; not in the standard sense. She doesn't really do intentionally bad things but her apathy and self-interest make her the kind of 'bad guy' that most people in society are. In the face of horrible things they stand idly by and do nothing or even look the other way allowing terrible injustices to continue.

Much like the other bad characters in or associated with the house, Maloney puts her self-interests first. She may lose her license, her job, her date, etc.; those are the things that matter most to her. She even counsels her friend against taking action but it's done in a way that seems caring of her friend's best interests.

Maloney was actually the first to bring up the issues in the house and the condition of the kids. Lora thought she was exaggerating but they soon flipped positions. On the other hand there's Mortie who Lora likes but doesn't really want anything to do with because he's a shady guy who is involved in all sorts of illegal and corrupt things. However, he turns out to be an upstanding guy who comes through and saves the day in every way possible.

Hopefully we can all see ourselves in these characters and adjust accordingly. The world has its share of thugs like Nick and losers like all the drunken party-goers who would rather check out of life than deal with it but they are not the majority. Unfortunately, the world is chock full of Maloney's and that's the problem, they're dangerous because there are just so many of them.

reply

The most unlikable Blondell character that I ever saw was Myrtle in 'Sinners Holiday' her second film and James Cagney's first. In that movie she was rotten, here she was simply not nice. She is also not blonde in that movie.

reply