New World Pictures struck gold in the 1970s with a series of extremely low budget sex comedies featuring three lead girls, all with different personalities. There were the "Nurses" and the "Teachers," and the former was the more popular series. Beginning with THE STUDENT NURSES in 1970, continuing with 1971's PRIVATE DUTY NURSES, 1972's NIGHT CALL NURSES, and concluding with 1974's CANDY STRIPE NURSES, the series earned oodles of cash at the box office for New World. The last entry in the series has finally hit DVD and it may be the most noteworthy entry in the series simply because of its eye-opening cast.
Maria Rojo (31 years old at the time!!) is Marisa, a juvenile delinquent who is caught with a knife on school grounds and "sentenced" to working as a candy stripe nurse at the local hospital. Her fellow nurses include Dianne (soap star Robin Mattson), an intellectual snob who aims to be a doctor one day, and Sandy (cult icon Candice Rialson), a spoiled little rich girl who sleeps with doctors so they can do her homework! All three girls have "wacky" misadventures: Marisa tries to prove the innocence of a Hispanic patient accused of a hold-up he happened to walk in on, Diane falls in love with a basketball player junkie (70s TV regular Rod Haase), and Sandy takes it upon herself to cure the sexual hang-ups of washed-up rock star Owen Boles! Yipes!
CANDY STRIPE NURSES follows the standard plotline of a "Nurses" film: three girls are the leads, all from different backgrounds, and they all have adventures beyond your wildest dreams off and on-duty! Nothing new here, so you may find yourself asking why New Concorde would release this film and not any other "Nurses" film on DVD? It's really quite simple: the casting is the trick. Speaking from personal viewing experience, any 70s drive-in film starring the luscious Candice Rialson is well worth tracking down, and NURSES is no exception. Besides contributing the almost requisite nude scenes, Rialson shines in yet another comedienne role. See HOLLYWOOD BOULEVARD for a better glimpse at this underrated drive-in actress.
Robin Mattson has, since this film, won three Soap Opera Digest Awards and has been nominated for four Daytime Emmy Awards. Wonder if she still puts CANDY STRIPE NURSES, BONNIE'S KIDS, and ISLAND OF THE LOST on her resume? Even stranger is seeing this soap opera regular turning in nude scenes at the drop of a hat. BATTLESTAR GALACTICA regular Rod Haase also has a rear nude scene that will startle viewers used to his TV exposure. Maria Rojo has been in dozens of Spanish-language television shows and movies, but her English-language career has been restricted to maybe half a dozen films. She displays a vibrant on-screen personality, that's for sure, and it's still hard to believe she's in her 30s playing a teenager here. Throw in bit parts by New World regular Tara Strohmeier, Sally Kirkland, the legendary Dick Miller, and Kimberly Hyde and Elana Casey as dizzy groupies, and you've got a film that despite its predictable situations, is still a lot of fun to watch.
Now to the fun stuff: this is possibly one of the most politically incorrect films ever made. Diane is sexually assaulted by Cliff, her boyfriend, and melts into a giggling schoolgirl who willingly has sex with him. Owen Boles transforms into a lunging pervert at the sight of Sandy and attempts to rape her, too! Marisa is almost raped in a scene that is merely an excuse to show Maria Rojo's breasts. But they don't make films like this anymore, so this atmosphere of non-PC behavior is kind of refreshing...if you can get past all the rape. And I almost forgot to mention the less-than-strict punishments inflicted on Sandy when she's caught sleeping with a patient and invading on a sex clinic patient's privacy.
New Concorde's DVD's have begun a new trend of being full-frame only, following a line of letterboxed titles like HOLLYWOOD BOULEVARD and ROCK 'N' ROLL HIGH SCHOOL. For once, though, CANDY STRIPE NURSES doesn't suffer too much from this 1.33:1 transfer. One scene in a gym looks particularly cramped, but no other scenes seem to be affected. The previous VHS of CANDY STRIPE NURSES was recorded in the LP mode, so this picture is a vast improvement with strong colors and a mild sprinkling of dust, hair, and dirt. The mono sound is good, and highlights the atrocious early 70s score by Thompson & Tabor (mute the TV on the main menu, the title theme repeats over and over).
Another trend with the recent New Concorde titles: no extras. There is a Roger Corman interview with Leonard Maltin, but it has nothing to do with CANDY STRIPE NURSES or the "Nurses" series and it even splices in a part of the ROCK 'N' ROLL HIGH SCHOOL interview about Corman musicals for no reason!! The original trailer is here, but at this stage of the game it can't be considered an extra. There are the same old previews for earlier DVDs of WOMEN IN CAGES, THE ARENA, and THE BIG BIRD CAGE, and some really terrible talent BIOS, and that's it. Sure, viewers of a movie like CANDY STRIPE NURSES don't expect a lot of trimmings on the disc, but Candice Rialson is still around and looking as gorgeous as ever. An interview with her would have been nice, but looks like a dream that will never come true for her fans.
A fine introduction to the brainless
sex comedies of the 70s from New World, CANDY STRIPE NURSES is a pretty good
bargain for the price it's fetching (sometimes as low as $8!) and an essential
addition to the 70s exploitation fan's library. (Casey
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