April 12th, 2020

carole lombard 07
  • vp19

A seasonal salute to nurses: 'Vigil In The Night'



Nurses have always been thanked for their service, but never more so than now, when the world relies on them and fellow medical providers through this hazardous time. It's led to a renewed appreciation of Carole Lombard's 1940 film "Vigil In The Night," where she portrays a nurse in modern-day Britain.



Directed by George Stevens, this RKO release shows the famed comedic actress in a completely different persona -- her Anne Lee is intense, dedicated to her work and loyal (she loses her job after taking blame for a mistake made by her younger sister Lucy, also a nurse, and is hired at a rural hospital). Then, in an unnerving parallel to our world 80 years later, an epidemic occurs, and Anne (center) and her colleagues must wear masks at work:



All of the images above come from a region-free version of the DVD available on eBay. Its disc uses an ad for the film:



In contrast, here's the case of the authorized Warner Archive version, also region-free and utilizing another ad of the time:



I led with the first version for two reasons: One, it's substantially cheaper than the other ($3.68 US, as opposed to $16.65 to $29.83 for the three "authorized" versions); and two, it's from a British seller and thus possibly may have the film's rare "international" ending, tacked onto releases outside North America. The segment shows Lombard and co-star Brian Aherne listening to radio reports of Germany's invasion of Poland in early September 1939, with both resolute in their support of Britain and its allies as war appears imminent.

Turner Classic Movies aired the segment during a 2006 showing I saw of "Vigil," so this ending exists -- but I have no idea whether it's been included in any DVD release. If it has, I'm guessing it's more likely to appear on a version issued in Britain than one in the U.S., especially since its existence is nearly unknown to American audiences.

To get the unauthorized version (which comes in a clear plastic sleeve, not a DVD case), go to https://www.ebay.com/itm/Vigil-in-the-Night-DVD-Carole-Lombard-Brian-Aherne-Rare-1940/264693771743?hash=item3da0fa6ddf:g:hHcAAOSwmBJcmoGS.

If you'd prefer the Warner Archive version, these are the three eBay options:
* A version from Australia sells for $16.65 US. It's at https://www.ebay.com/itm/Vigil-in-the-Night-1940-Carole-Lombard-DVD-NEW/192889384048?epid=1804742363&hash=item2ce91a6c70:g:9x0AAOSwptZcsxqU.
* Another British seller has it for $23.68 US; find it at https://www.ebay.com/itm/VIGIL-IN-THE-NIGHT-1940-Carol-Lombard-Region-Free-DVD-Sealed/162158605282?epid=1605761345&hash=item25c167f3e2:g:e7AAAOSw3xJXo2yZ.
* Finally, a seller based in Oregon has it, and you can buy it outright for $29.83 or make an offer. To find out more, visit https://www.ebay.com/itm/Vigil-in-the-Night-DVD-1940-Carole-Lombard-Brian-Aherne-Anne-Shirley/151789146105?epid=108561468&hash=item2357568ff9:g:PloAAOxyjj5SbcMY.

Finally, a vintage still of Lombard and Aherne is available from a Spanish seller:




You can buy it straight up for $29.99 or make an offer. All the info is at https://www.ebay.com/itm/CAROLE-LOMBARD-BRIAN-AHERNE-IN-VIGIL-IN-THE-NIGHT-1940-ORIG-VINTAGE-Photo-225/324133320481?hash=item4b77d9f721:g:SmoAAOSwfQtei0im.

Any of these might make fine "thank you" gifts for the nurse in your life on this Easter.

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