Taglines: It makes the day seem dead.
A nebbish of a morgue attendant gets shunted back to the night shift where he is shackled with an obnoxious neophyte partner who dreams of the “one great idea” for success. His life takes a bizarre turn when a prostitute neighbour complains about the loss of her pimp. His partner, upon hearing the situation, suggests that they fill that opening themselves using the morgue at night as their brothel. Against his better judgement, he gets talked into the idea, only to find that it’s more than his boss that has objections to this bit of entrepreneurship.
Night Shift is a 1982 American comedy film, directed by Ron Howard, concerning a timid night shift morgue employee whose life is turned upside down by a free-spirited entrepreneur. It stars Howard’s Happy Days co-star Henry Winkler along with Michael Keaton, in his first starring role, and Shelley Long. Also appearing are Richard Belzer and Clint Howard. A young Kevin Costner has a brief scene as “Frat Boy #1”, Shannen Doherty appears as a Bluebell scout, and Vincent Schiavelli plays a man who delivers a sandwich to Winkler’s character.
Winkler was nominated for the Golden Globe Award for Best Actor – Motion Picture Musical or Comedy, while Keaton won the Kansas City Film Critics Circle Award for Best Supporting Actor.
About the Story
Chuck (Winkler), formerly a successful stockbroker, has found a refuge from the ulcer-inducing Wall Street rat race in his job as an attendant at the New York City morgue. His displeasure at being “promoted” to Night Shift Supervisor to make room for his boss’s nephew is exacerbated by the irrational exuberance of Bill “Blaze” Blazejowski (Keaton), his new co-worker. They are inspired by the plight of Chuck’s prostitute neighbor, Belinda (Long), to apply Chuck’s financial acumen and Bill’s entrepreneurial spirit to open a prostitution service headquartered at the morgue.
Chuck falls in love with Belinda, but their relationship becomes complicated when Belinda refuses to quit prostitution. Chuck’s passiveness keeps him from telling Belinda he loves her. Meanwhile, Chuck and Bill’s foray into the prostitution business draws the ire of dangerous pimps who come to the morgue and threaten to kill Chuck. Bill inadvertently leads undercover cops to the morgue where Chuck is being assaulted by the pimps.
A shootout ensues. Chuck and Bill are rescued, but are arrested for promoting prostitution. Because their arrest would be a political embarrassment, the guys are offered their old jobs back and a dismissal of all charges. Chuck accepts this, but Bill sees it as an opportunity to bargain with the mayor’s office. Chuck and Bill fight and part ways. Chuck’s fiancée breaks up with him.
Chuck sees Belinda in the hall of their apartment complex, but again fails to express his true feelings for her. Belinda leaves, and Chuck becomes angry with himself for being afraid. With renewed determination, Chuck finds Belinda working in an adult club and professes his love for her. He also finds Bill is employed there as a towel boy. The three leave the club together and go out on the town.
Night Shift (1982)
Directed by: Ron Howard
Starring: Henry Winkler, Michael Keaton, Shelley Long, Gina Hecht, Nita Talbot, Basil Hoffman, Jaid Barrymore, Clint Howard
Screenplay by: Lowell Ganz, Babaloo Mandel
Production Design by: Jack T. Collis
Cinematography by: James Crabe
Film Editing by: Daniel P. Hanley, Mike Hill, Robert James Kern
Costume Design by: Jodie Lynn Tillen
Set Decoration by: Richard C. Goddard
Art Direction by: Peter Landsdown Smith
Music by: Burt Bacharach
Distributed by: Warner Bros. Pictures
Release Date: July 30, 1982