First on this tape, a film I remember fondly when first watched it, so let’s see if time has been kind.
Night Shift is a comedy, directed by Ron Howard and written by Lowell Ganz and Babaloo Mandel, the team who would go on to make Splash a couple of years later. Also of interest in the credits – Original music by Burt Bacharach, generally known as a songwriter, but he did compose soundtracks to some films in his time.
Henry Winkler plays a mild-mannered morgue director, put-upon by his boss and his fiancée. He meets Shelley Long, who is a prostitute, when she’s brought to the morgue to identify the body of her pimp, who’d been tied to a chair and thrown out of a window by two men.
Winkler’s also demoted to the night shift at the morgue in favour of his boss’s nephew. Needless to say, life isn’t going well for him.
On his first night he meets his assistant, Michael Keaton, a hyper-manic oddball who carries around a tape recorder so he can record all the brilliant ideas that come to him all the time. “Idea to eliminate garbage: Edible Paper.”
He discovers that Shelley Long actually lives across the hall from him, and when he discovers her in the elevator, after a beating from a customer who didn’t want to pay, he decides to manage her business, along with all of her friends who are ‘without representation’ after the pimp was killed at the start of the movie. All this business is enacted from the morgue during the night shift.
Naturally, in the nature of these things, Winkler and Long fall for each other, unsurprising given how neurotic his fiancée is, and there’s also the inevitable falling out when she wants to continue working, but he thinks she shouldn’t.
Then, the men who killed her pimp in the opening turn up again to menace Winkler. It’s never established who these guys are. I presume they’re thugs working for a local gangster, but we never see them outside of their core function of murdering a pimp. Perhaps that’s their specialisation. Anyway, thank goodness they enjoy their work, and like to kill people in amusing and inventive ways, because just as they’ve gaffer-taped Winkler to a hospital gurney, and are about to put a firehose in his mouth, help comes in the form of Keaton, who has picked up a pair of possible clients and brought them back to the morgue. These men are actually undercover policemen, and they arrive just in time for them to have a gunfight with the pimp-murderers, and rescue Winkler.
It’s all resolved nicely at the end, when Winkler finally learns to stand up for himself, and goes to reconcile with Long (and Keaton).
It’s all rounded out by an end title song from Rod Stewart, ‘That’s What Friends Are For’ by Bacharach and Carole Bayer Sager, which ended up being repurposed by Dionne Warwick and Friends as a charity single for Aids organisations.
This is a perfectly fine movie. It’s got almost the same plot as Risky Business, but all the leads are good, and the plot keeps everything humming. The ending is exactly what you want from a romantic comedy.
It’s just a shame it’s all about prostitution, really.
After the film, recording switches to LA Law. Michael defends a woman whose baby was killed by a policeman in a botched raid, who shot and injured a cop during the raid. Victor has left the firm after Leland tricked him into dropping a case, Abby is reunited with her son, and there’s a very important basketball match.
Paul Bartel makes a guest appearance as a grumpy judge.
This episode is El Sid (4L12).
Recording stops after this, and there’s a brief older recording with a bit of a Kodak/AAA 10K Road Race.
- Recital Performance
- Business Magazine
- Renault Trucks
- Scottish Amicable
- Daily Mirror
- trail: Insignificance
- Mail on Sunday
- matrix – cash machine link-up
- Old Spice
- Continental Airlines
- Renault trucks
- Tower Records – Bryan Adams
- British Telecom pagers
- Pan Am
- Business Magazine
- Levi 501
- Scottish Widows
- Cathay Pacific
- Shop Electric
- Nat West
- Bio Handy
- Heinz Baked Beans
- Quality Street