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Thursday, December 19, 2019

Metro Managing Medicine


Four Girls In White (1938) Is Romantic Nursing Aide

You plod along this nurses-training trek figuring it for a mere programmer, if not an outright "B," and then comes a whale of a crashed train and burst dam finish to make us realize this was Metro after all, and they'd not stint no matter the modesty of subject matter. Titular girls are Florence Rice, Mary Howard, Una Merkel, and Ann Rutherford. There was star-building afoot, but little seems to have come of it. Rice proved a non-starter, as did Howard. Both were attractive, if not electric with appeal. A Lana Turner would frankly have clicked better in Rice's selfish-turned-selfless hospital trainee. Mary Howard would play opposite Robert Taylor's Billy The Kid in 1941, and evaporate soon after. In fact, both these actresses were out of films by 1943. Rutherford was Andy Hardy's in-residence girlfriend, strict utility beyond that, while Una Merkel functioned mostly as comic aside.




Perusal of house organ The Lion Roars reveals many ingénues groomed for firmaments; precious few made the grade. Fact to face: Star creation needed more than corporate machinery, however streamlined. The Lana Turners and Hedy Lamarrs were manufactured, yes, but even MGM couldn't make something from nothing, as was demonstrated over and again with faces that came, then shortly after, went. Four Girls In White is most enjoyable as X-Ray of the Metro lab in Classic Age swing. There is everything to immerse matinee and fan-mag-bred attendance: romance, life/death crisis, life lessons, sprinkling of comedy (Buddy Ebsen) --- one could be cynical and call it base formula, but what industry was built upon simplest, still diverting formula. MGM operated its fictional hospital as though it were a real thing, staffers Kildare, Gillespie, and numerous one-shots such as Four Girls In White keeping halls and ersatz OR's filled on day/night basis.

5 Comments:

Blogger Scott MacGillivray said...

As Don Miller noted in his B Movies book, the train crash and the burst dam were the work of former Mascot/Republic producer Nat Levine. FOUR GIRLS IN WHITE was Levine's first and last Metro production; his rough-and-tumble style was too raw for the glossy, rarefied Metro approach.

8:59 AM  
Blogger Dave K said...

Ann Rutherford is primarily remembered today as Polly Benedict in the Hardy films, but also appeared as Carol Lambert in the popular Red Skelton WHISTLING series.

11:11 AM  
Blogger Tommie Hicks said...

Is that Snub (fireman #6) administering oxygen to the crash victim in the still?

10:58 AM  
Blogger Beowulf said...

The "tree": Grace Bradley?

3:02 PM  
Blogger Lionel Braithwaite said...

This movie reminds me of the The Interns trilogy/TV series made at Columbia in the early '60's, and early 1970's, respectively, except only one movie was made.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Interns_(film)

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_New_Interns

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Interns_(TV_series)

5:56 PM  

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