18 February 2009

DVD: "Night Shift"

Night Shift
Directed by Ron Howard
Written by Lowell Ganz and Babaloo Mandel
Starring: Henry Winkler, Michael Keaton, Shelly Long
DVD Release Date: 27 July 1999
MPAA Rating: R
List Price: $9.98
Cinescopes Personality Types: Dedicated Idealist, Invincible Optimist

The Film
I first saw Night Shift on TV in a late night broadcast several years ago, found it absorbing and then promptly forgot about it until we found it in the $5 DVD's at Walmart last year.  Originally released in 1982, this is the story of Lumley (Winkler), an employee at the New York City Morgue, who had walked away from the intensity of Wall Street.  Billy Blaze (Keaton, in his motion picture debut) is hired on and assigned to work the night shift with Lumley.  Lumley manages to discount Billy's ideas until he becomes sympathetic to his prostitute neighbor (Long).  Together, they take over managing the girls--out of the morgue!

Unfortunately, having been originally released in 1999, there are no bonus features on this disc, unless that's how you classify interactive menus and scene access.  This is a double-sided disc, with the widescreen version on one side, and the pan & scan full screen version on the opposite side.  For those who don't like the so-called "snapper" cases, this was re-issued in 2006 in a keep case and new artwork, though the discs are the same.

The Recommendation
Night Shift is a bizarre entry in the filmographies of all concerned, perhaps none moreso than director Howard.  Despite being completely insane, the thrill of seeing such actors as Richard Belzer and Kevin Costner in bit parts, coupled with the crazed intensity of Keaton's performance (and the charm of Long's) makes this an oft-overlooked, early 80s gem.

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