Plot: Sylvia (Bebe Daniels) has gone through a lot of late, as her husband suffered a mental breakdown and in the wake of that, her life is much different. The couple’s plans have been derailed and in an effort to support herself, Sylvia returns to the nursing field and keeps her past a secret. Although she is still married to her husband and tries to be a faithful wife, inside she longs to leave him behind and move on. The temptation is strong enough, but when romantic interests spring up around every corner at the hospital, she struggles with her feelings. In her current situation, a new romance is hard to resist, but the affections of a doctor also promise to return her social status and with that, financial security to boot. But what will Sylvia do as temptation mounts and her past is ever close to invading her new life at the hospital?
Entertainment Value: Released at the tail end of the pre-code era, Registered Nurse might not be one as scandalous or memorable as some others from around this time, but it is a solid, watchable melodrama. The narrative is interesting and touches on some sticky subjects for the time, including a look at how Sylvia copes with her marriage, as divorce is such a taboo at this point. Between that, potential adultery, and the multiple romantic interests, the movie has some spice, but feels mostly tame by pre-code standards. The story is fine though and never comes off as dull, so it keeps you interested and Sylvia is a well crafted character. The melodrama is more grounded than expected as well, so don’t hope for wild, soap opera levels of the stuff, but again, there are small, fun doses to be had here. I have to think Bebe Daniels is the film’s strongest asset and she is good in this one, but a little more kick or spice wouldn’t have hurt. So not a sizzler on the pre-code scale, but still worth a spin.
I was drawn to Registered Nurse because of Bebe Daniels, an impressive performer with a rich filmography, including repeated roles opposite Harold Lloyd. I wouldn’t put this one as one of her best or memorable efforts, but she was a wise casting choice, as she delivers an enjoyable performance. The movie’s drama and romantic entanglements can be fun, but the real draw here is Daniels. She is able to make the good scenes better and the not so good ones seem passable, so she anchors the film well and gets the best out of the material. I think the movie would slip quite a bit without her, as she brings a lot to the role and enhances the entire experience. Lyle Talbot is also on hand and is solid as usual, but the script just doesn’t open many doors for him, which is the case for most of the cast here. Registered Nurse also stars Irene Franklin, Louise Beavers, John Halliday, and Beulah Bondi.
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