Vigil in the Night


1h 36m 1940
Vigil in the Night

Brief Synopsis

A good nurse ruins her career by covering up for her sister's careless mistake.

Film Details

Genre
Romance
Drama
Release Date
Feb 9, 1940
Premiere Information
New York opening: week of 5 Feb 1940
Production Company
RKO Radio Pictures, Inc.
Distribution Company
RKO Radio Pictures, Inc.
Country
United States
Screenplay Information
Based on the novel Vigil in the Night by A. J. Cronin (Cleveland, 1941).

Technical Specs

Duration
1h 36m
Sound
Mono (RCA Sound System)
Color
Black and White
Theatrical Aspect Ratio
1.37 : 1
Film Length
10 reels

Synopsis

When her sister Lucy's negligence results in the death of a patient, devoted nurse Anne Lee shoulders the blame to save Lucy's honor because the girl has entered the nursing profession solely to please her. Dismissed for negligence, Anne moves to the town of Hepperton, where she finds a job in a large but poorly equipped hospital. There she is befriended by Matron East, the dour but diligent matron of nurses, and Dr. Prescott, who struggles against the deplorable conditions of the hospital to relieve the suffering of the sick. One night, when Anne's quick thinking saves the lives of the victims of a bus accident, Anne and Prescott become better acquainted. He confides his dreams for a new hospital but concedes that it has little chance of becoming a reality because of the opposition of Matthew Bowley, the miserly chairman of the hospital board. Soon afterward, Bowley becomes a problem for Anne when his wife overhears him making amorous advances to her and threatens a scandal unless Anne is fired. Dismissed once again, Anne goes to London to join Lucy, who has gotten married, but upon her arrival, she learns that Lucy has left her husband and is facing charges of negligent homicide in conjunction with the death of a patient at the nursing home in which she was working. After Prescott comes to London and testifies on her behalf, Lucy is cleared of all charges. To redeem herself, Lucy then decides to go to Hepperton to fight a virulent epidemic that has broken out there. Anne goes with her and takes charge of the isolation ward. When Bowley refuses the funds for necessary supplies, Anne defies him and orders them anyway. Bowley's attitude changes when his own son falls ill and Lucy contracts the disease by giving the boy mouth-to-mouth resuscitation to save his life. Lucy's death makes Anne more determined to uphold the ideals of her profession, and with Bowley's funding, she and Prescott begin to build their new dream hospital.

Film Details

Genre
Romance
Drama
Release Date
Feb 9, 1940
Premiere Information
New York opening: week of 5 Feb 1940
Production Company
RKO Radio Pictures, Inc.
Distribution Company
RKO Radio Pictures, Inc.
Country
United States
Screenplay Information
Based on the novel Vigil in the Night by A. J. Cronin (Cleveland, 1941).

Technical Specs

Duration
1h 36m
Sound
Mono (RCA Sound System)
Color
Black and White
Theatrical Aspect Ratio
1.37 : 1
Film Length
10 reels

Articles

Vigil In the Night - Vigil in the Night


Carole Lombard takes on a rare serious role in the 1940 hospital drama Vigil in the Night. Anne Lee (Lombard) and her sister Lucy (Anne Shirley) are both nurses in an English hospital. When Lucy's negligence causes a young patient to die, big sister Anne takes the blame and loses her job. Anne eventually gets hired at a larger but poorly equipped hospital where she falls in love with the handsome and dedicated Dr. Robert Prescott (Brian Aherne). Together Anne and Dr. Prescott work and sacrifice to improve hospital conditions and fight a deadly epidemic that threatens the community.

Known for years as the "Queen of Screwball Comedy", Carole Lombard had found her success in Hollywood by taking on funny lighthearted roles in such films as Twentieth Century (1934) and My Man Godfrey (1936), for which she received an Academy Award nomination as Best Actress. Though she had done dramatic parts earlier in her career, comedies are what made audiences fall in love with her.

In 1939 Carole Lombard wanted to challenge herself as an actress and step out of her comedic comfort zone. She therefore turned down the Lewis Milestone comedy Lucky Partners (1940) co-starring Ronald Colman in order to do the somber drama Vigil in the Night. It would be her first and only picture with director George Stevens (Alice Adams [1935], Swing Time [1936]).

Vigil in the Night was based on a novel by A.J. Cronin, a former physician whose writings also provided the basis for the popular films The Citadel (1938) and The Keys of the Kingdom (1944). RKO Studios had high hopes for Vigil in the Night, which had all the ingredients to make it one of the most prestigious films of the year: a strong script, a talented director and the star power of Carole Lombard.

Filming commenced on Vigil in the Night in July 1939. However, apropos of the film's hospital setting, Carole Lombard was suddenly taken ill with appendicitis. Following her emergency appendectomy, the entire production had to be shut down for six weeks in order to give her ample time to recover.

Upon its release Vigil in the Night received mixed reviews, and audiences unfortunately rejected their beloved Carole Lombard in such an unrelentingly serious film. Lombard soon returned to comic roles with great success before her untimely death just two years later in 1942. It was the last film that director George Stevens made for RKO before moving to Columbia Pictures. Watch for a young Peter Cushing in a small role as Anne Shirley's love interest.

Producer: George Stevens
Director: George Stevens
Screenplay: Fred Guiol, P.J. Wolfson, Rowland Leigh; A.J. Cronin (novel)
Cinematography: Robert de Grasse
Art Direction: Van Nest Polglase
Music: Alfred Newman
Film Editing: Henry Berman
Cast: Carole Lombard (Anne Lee), Brian Aherne (Dr. Robert S. Prescott), Anne Shirley (Lucy Lee), Julien Mitchell (Matthew Bowley), Robert Coote (Dr. Caley), Brenda Forbes (Nora Dunn), Rita Page (Glennie), Peter Cushing (Joe Shand), Ethel Griffies (Matron East), Doris Lloyd (Mrs. Martha Bowley), Emily Fitzroy (Sister Gilson).
BW-96m.

by Andrea Passafiume
Vigil In The Night - Vigil In The Night

Vigil In the Night - Vigil in the Night

Carole Lombard takes on a rare serious role in the 1940 hospital drama Vigil in the Night. Anne Lee (Lombard) and her sister Lucy (Anne Shirley) are both nurses in an English hospital. When Lucy's negligence causes a young patient to die, big sister Anne takes the blame and loses her job. Anne eventually gets hired at a larger but poorly equipped hospital where she falls in love with the handsome and dedicated Dr. Robert Prescott (Brian Aherne). Together Anne and Dr. Prescott work and sacrifice to improve hospital conditions and fight a deadly epidemic that threatens the community. Known for years as the "Queen of Screwball Comedy", Carole Lombard had found her success in Hollywood by taking on funny lighthearted roles in such films as Twentieth Century (1934) and My Man Godfrey (1936), for which she received an Academy Award nomination as Best Actress. Though she had done dramatic parts earlier in her career, comedies are what made audiences fall in love with her. In 1939 Carole Lombard wanted to challenge herself as an actress and step out of her comedic comfort zone. She therefore turned down the Lewis Milestone comedy Lucky Partners (1940) co-starring Ronald Colman in order to do the somber drama Vigil in the Night. It would be her first and only picture with director George Stevens (Alice Adams [1935], Swing Time [1936]). Vigil in the Night was based on a novel by A.J. Cronin, a former physician whose writings also provided the basis for the popular films The Citadel (1938) and The Keys of the Kingdom (1944). RKO Studios had high hopes for Vigil in the Night, which had all the ingredients to make it one of the most prestigious films of the year: a strong script, a talented director and the star power of Carole Lombard. Filming commenced on Vigil in the Night in July 1939. However, apropos of the film's hospital setting, Carole Lombard was suddenly taken ill with appendicitis. Following her emergency appendectomy, the entire production had to be shut down for six weeks in order to give her ample time to recover. Upon its release Vigil in the Night received mixed reviews, and audiences unfortunately rejected their beloved Carole Lombard in such an unrelentingly serious film. Lombard soon returned to comic roles with great success before her untimely death just two years later in 1942. It was the last film that director George Stevens made for RKO before moving to Columbia Pictures. Watch for a young Peter Cushing in a small role as Anne Shirley's love interest. Producer: George Stevens Director: George Stevens Screenplay: Fred Guiol, P.J. Wolfson, Rowland Leigh; A.J. Cronin (novel) Cinematography: Robert de Grasse Art Direction: Van Nest Polglase Music: Alfred Newman Film Editing: Henry Berman Cast: Carole Lombard (Anne Lee), Brian Aherne (Dr. Robert S. Prescott), Anne Shirley (Lucy Lee), Julien Mitchell (Matthew Bowley), Robert Coote (Dr. Caley), Brenda Forbes (Nora Dunn), Rita Page (Glennie), Peter Cushing (Joe Shand), Ethel Griffies (Matron East), Doris Lloyd (Mrs. Martha Bowley), Emily Fitzroy (Sister Gilson). BW-96m. by Andrea Passafiume

Quotes

Trivia

The production of the movie was held up several weeks due to 'Lombard, Carole' 's appendectomy.

Notes

Dr. Archibald Joseph Cronin's novel was published serially in 1938 in Good Housekeeping. A news item in Hollywood Reporter notes that RKO bought the Cronin novel as a vehicle for Carole Lombard. A pre-production news item in Hollywood Reporter adds that production on the film was suspended for several weeks for Lombard's appendectomy. According to New York Times, George Stevens omitted part of a medical examination of a woman who was in the bus accident because the audience found it funny when the doctor tested her reflexes. This was producer Pandro Berman's last picture for RKO. He left the studio to work for M-G-M. In 1940, Olivia de Havilland and Herbert Marshall starred in a Lux Radio Theater version of this story.