Released in 1982, “Night Shift” stars Henry Winkler as a morgue attendant newly assigned to the graveyard shift in the Big Apple where he meets an energetic but dubious new employee (Michael Keaton) who talks him into running a prostitution ring at the morgue. Shelley Long plays one of the ladies of the night while Gina Hecht appears as the fiancé of Winkler’s character.
Although director Ron Howard had previously directed 1977’s low budget “Grand Theft Auto” and a few TV movies, “Night Shift” was his big theatrical break. It was also Keaton’s film debut after spending 6 years on TV. Speaking of whom, Keaton’s character comes off seriously annoying, but he slows down after a bit and you get used to him. Winkler was at the height of his popularity after six years on Happy Days with a few more to go, but he could never equal his television success in cinema (I've only seen him in three movies, this, 1977's "Heroes" and 1996' "Scream"). In any case, both work as quality protagonists who happen to be polar opposites.
Long co-starred in this movie right before she shot to television success with Cheers for the next five years (when she chose to leave the show). Shelley never did much for me, although she’s certainly likable, but WATCH OUT for her mind-blowing kitchen scene where she’s just stunning.
The movie’s not great but it’s consistently amusing with 2-3 laugh-out-loud sequences. The topic of prostitution is disturbing, even gross; it’s hard to fathom how a woman could fall into such a horrible pit, but the movie stresses the humanity of the prostitutes and possible redemption rooted in love. And love conquers all.
The film runs 106 minutes and was shot in Manhattan & Queens, New York City. WRITERS: Lowell Ganz & Babaloo Mandel.
GRADE: Borderline B/B- (6.5/10)