War Nurse (1930) Poster


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War Wounds & Battle Scars
Ron Oliver5 November 2004
A young WAR NURSE learns to serve the wounded servicemen, whatever the personal cost to herself.

This fine film from MGM illustrates the horrors of World War One by celebrating the American military nurses in France. The horrendous conditions they work under, the very real dangers they face, and the lives they sacrifice for their devotion to service, both gives emphasis to their tremendous dedication, and provides some fine entertainment for the viewer. While the focus remains on the hospital drama the film is at its best; it starts going soft when the romantic escapades of two of the nurses begin to absorb considerable screen time.

Anita Page gives a commendable performance as a convent schoolgirl who quickly loses her innocence to war's terrible reality, and her heart to airman Robert Ames, who also scores as her conflicted lover. June Walker, on the other hand, provides rather colorless appeal when compared to flashy flyer Robert Montgomery, who shows some of the star power that was so soon to make him one of the top draws at MGM.

It's great to see the marvelous ZaSu Pitts, playing a rather downbeat, plain-talking nurse, but the role does not give her enough to do. Actually taking the movie's top acting honors is supporting actress Helen Jerome Eddy, portraying a starchy Kansas schoolmarm who slowly reveals her beautiful heart after joining the medical services.

Hedda Hopper is a tower of strength in her rather small role as the nurses' matron. Marie Prevost is on hand as a brazen Brooklyn babe who also is one of the Ladies in White.
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Anita Page Shines in Gritty WWI Drama
Alix192926 May 2003
Anita Page gets the chance to be someone other than the rich socialite or the poor girl from the lower east side. In WAR NURSE, she shines as the teenage social butterfly who signs on, one imagines on a whim, to be a nurse in WWI. She is shipped overseas with a group of other girls who are all anxious to be nurses. At first she is afraid and cries for the easy life she used to have, but quickly becomes a competent nurse. Hedda Hopper, in a role before she became a gossip queen, plays the matron of the nurses. Look for the marvelous wisecracking Marie Prevost, one of the 1920's favorite flappers, and Helen Jerome Eddy as two of the other nurses.

In this film, Anita loses her heart to an American soldier she meets, only to find herself bitterly disappointed later. Suave, sexy Robert Montgomery provides the love interest for a nurse named Babs. Look also for Edward Neugent, playing another of his many "best buddy" roles, as a friend of Montgomery. This movie looks like it's used stock WWI war footage to document the war, but that only adds to the realism. Things look dark, dirty and, well, like a war is going on! Contrast these scenes with one later in the picture of the wild party at the nightclub, and I imagine you have some idea of what things were like at some point during WWI.

Like WATERLOO BRIDGE (1930), this movie provides viewers of today with a look back at the WWI era--it's conventions, morals, worries, and fascinating stories. If you can find this movie, it's worth the time it takes to see it.
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Romance Among The Dying
atlasmb16 April 2014
Released in 1930, "War Nurse" is a story about women who volunteered to serve as nurses in WWI. Coming from varied backgrounds, they quickly find themselves manning a hospital in a small French town. Though the conditions are trying and supplies are somewhat scarce, they work long hours tending to a seemingly endless stream of wounded and dying soldiers. The women become a close knit group, sharing their fears and dreams with each other through some tough times.

There are also lighter moments in this film, especially regarding the soldiers and fliers who come to know the nurses. Chief among these is Wally (Robert Montgomery), who is a confident flier always looking to score with the ladies. He meets Babs (June Walker), a rather straitlaced girl who falls for his line in a big way. In a pivotal scene, he explains to Babs that his philosophy is to "take what you can get" from life, because the future is so uncertain in the midst of war. He also says that war makes people "cheap and rotten". Babs wonders if it might even be a girl's patriotic duty to play along, making a pilot "happy" before he's sent off on another mission.

Another young nurse, Joy (Anita Page) falls for a patient in her care, only to be heartbroken later. I thought her performance was mostly good, but when she had to cry it rang false for me.

In 1930, talkies were still a new phenomenon. Still, the sound quality in this film was fine. Obviously, sound effects was a new technical area, and some of the sound effects were amateurish. The visual effects were a mixed bag. The use of back screens and model planes--though state of the art for their time--were distracting. On the other hand, the explosion effects used in bombing scenes were excellent, and the shots of exploding buildings and collapsing ceilings were realistic enough to hold up in today's films!

The editing of "War Nurse" is sometimes choppy, especially near the end. But the film, overall, is a solid tribute to the women (and men) who put themselves in harm's way for a good cause. And it is a realistic enough depiction of war to demonstrate its tragic nature.
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pretty realistic
data-2510 January 2000
This film tells the tale of a group of young "war nurses". The opening scenes show them drinking and thinking that being a war nurse will be relatively easy. This is especially apparent with the character played by Anita Page. Most of these girls are unprepared and have no idea of what they are about to go through. Soon enough, the harsh realities of war hits them in the face. War Nurse doesn't rank up there with The Big Parade or All Quiet on the Western Front but it does have several points in it's favor. The performances are all good. Anita Page is perfectly cast and she convincingly portrays the wide-eyed, innocent young girl. Helene Jerome Eddy, a popular silent player who also had a long career in talkies, is especially good, as is Marie Prevost. The war atmosphere is well presented. And these nurses are portrayed as valiant, selfless and always ready to do their share. Not a major motion picture but still a pretty good one.
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Keep Kleenex Close!
msladysoul9 December 2004
This movie really will tung at your heart strings and make you tear up. It really is a touching movie. Anita Page, one of Golden Era Hollywood beauties is one of the best actresses I have seen. Beautiful yet not self-contained. It seems she could play any role, drama seems to be her specialty, she could move you in any role but this one takes the cake. The whole cast plays their role beautifully. Anita Page plays Joy Meadows, the beautiful but naive young lady who ends up the worse of all of the ladies but don't deserve it. June Walker as Babs is a natural. Marie Prevost as Rosalie, add spice and sense of humor to the movie. All the ladies cry together, laugh, suffer, they really grow up together as well. I believe "Cry Havoc" starring Ann Sothern, Margarent Sullivan and Joan Blondell was a remake of War Nurses, even though it was a good try, War Nurses is better. War Nurses didn't hold back anything being made in the pre-code era. If your looking for a good movie, this it it. Turner Classic Movies run it often.
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Hell's Angels
mmallon43 February 2015
I watch a lot of obscure movies, films which 99.9% of people will never watch. It's like discovering a world that only I know about. Occasionally I will come across a hidden gem which I absolutely love usually because it meets my personal preferences. But then there are movies like War Nurse in which I'm in disbelief that a movie of such quality on many levels could fall tough the cracks of obscurity.

War Nurse follows a group of women who volunteer for nursing duties in France at the outbreak of the First World War. The film is a perfect companion piece to All Quiet on the Western Front, released the same year. Similar to how the young army recruits in All Quiet... have a distorted, glamorised view of what war will be like, so do the nurses at the beginning of War Nurse (some of them are barely into adulthood) expecting to be "holding hands all night with good looking sick officers" and to spend "Moonlight nights up on no man's land, with a general in each arm". Little do they expect the extremely strenuous work, horrendous conditions, the lack of supplies and the near insanity caused by the constant firing of shells.

One scene in which the nurses retreat to bed for the night only to be woken up shortly afterward by the arrival of injured troops during the middle of the night, I can feel just how tired and physically exhausted these people must be. War Nurse is full of powerful moments both big and subtle such as when a soldier played Robert Montgomery asks a nurse played by Anita Page out on a date, literally seconds after she told him one of his close comrades just died; death is that common of an occurrence

The copy of War Nurse I watched was not of the greatest of quality so I couldn't always distinguish the cast members apart. Yet I was still fully engaged and can say the production values are superb. I don't have any information on the filmmaking locations for War Nurse but the exteriors feature lush countryside backdrops to large-scale recreations of baron no man's land with shells constantly exploding.

Get this baby onto the Warner Achieve Collection!
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An interesting look at WWI nurses
MartinHafer22 January 2015
I was a bit surprised by the premise of this film. It seems that not all the nurses used during WWI were actually trained nurses. In other words, while the Red Cross provided many well-trained nurses with surgical and nursing experience, many of the volunteers were just ladies who were willing to give it a try! This film is specifically about these ladies.

As far as the types of women you see in the film, they all are a bit different. Some are very professional and dedicated and some are more flighty and annoying. One of the worst of them is actually the leading lady, Anita Page, who plays a nurse who seems awfully interested in romance and who seems ready to crack up at a moment's notice! While annoying, however, this is probably pretty realistic- -and it was very tough work to say the least.

Overall, this is a pretty good little film. At times it's gritty and blunt about sex for 1930, though in some ways it is all a bit sanitized as you really see no blood and the horrors of war aren't nearly as horrific as you'll see in contemporary films like "All Quiet on the Western Front". Not a brilliant film but one that is worth seeing, well acted and well written.
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Wrong tone
gbill-748774 December 2017
There are some redeeming features of this movie, made a little over a decade after WWI ended. It tries to show the cruelty of war and the transience of our little lives, and makes a case for grabbing now for the brass ring, not taking anything for granted. In doing so, it also tries to weave in war-time romance, and I think therein lies its weakness, especially in the first half of the film, where that takes too much of the emphasis. You'll also have to get through some pretty silly scenes early on, such as water getting spilled on one of the nurses a couple of times while they're all cleaning up a building which will be used as a hospital.

June Walker turns in a decent performance and Anita Page has a nice scene when she loses out while the hospital is being shelled, but Robert Montgomery and Robert Ames are smarmy and seriously annoying for most of the movie. It's irritating to see their characters continue to pursue the nurses even when it's clear their attentions are unwanted, and it rings false to see them so chipper doing so when, for example, when Montgomery hears of a friend having just died. In another scene, Montgomery ties a rope around Walker's bicycle so that he can give her a fast tow with his motorcycle, and turns around and smiles when she crashes.

It gets a little better when Montgomery makes his case for being up-front about his desire for a night of pleasure since he may die on a mission the following day, and when Ames lies wounded on a hospital bed and has to express his true emotions. For me, though, it's too little too late. The film needed more gravitas and grit given the setting, and Montgomery and director Edgar Selwyn failed to set the right tone.
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tribute to nurses during the war
ksf-216 April 2014
Sound quality is a little iffy in this early talkie from MGM. Anita Paige and Robert Montgomery. Even Zasu Pitts and Hedda Hopper. Also some STRONG regional accents that really come out now and then. Nurses date the soldiers in between surgical procedures during the war. They have daily adventures, and spout clever aphorisms to each other. At one point, the pilots are shown landing with mountains in the background... probably Burbank or Orange county. Palm Springs landing strip wasn't built yet. Directed by Edgar Selwyn, whose early life was full of strife and adventure, if the bio on IMDb is accurate. Apparently, the "wyn" from his name is part of the "Goldwyn" studio name. On IMDb, it is said he was considering going for a ride on the titanic, but couldn't make the trip. Some fun life stories, with the war as a serious backdrop. Because its such an early talkie, they still use a title card at the very end with a tribute to the "War Nurses". Not bad. Fun to watch. Some serious moments of loss, but it does take place during wartime, so that is expected.
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