Rent Miss Nightingale (1974)

2.6 of 5 from 3 ratings
1h 40min
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The definitive 1974 TV adaptation of the critically renowned stage play "Florence Nightingale" is an inventive character study of the founder of modern nursing, featuring a highly acclaimed lead performance from Janet Suzman, and a supporting cast that includes Robert Flemyng, Joss Ackland, Charles Kay, Geoffrey Bayldon and Nigel Hawthorne. The name Florence Nightingale calls to mind "The Lady with the Lamp", the saintly, dedicated spinster who devoted her life to selflessly nursing the sick.
The real woman was a far more complex and fascinating character, the product of a typically rigid Victorian background, yet an outstanding social reformer who challenged the statesmen of the day to fight for the causes she passionately believed in. Writer John Bowen is fascinated by this contradiction of her personality. His acclaimed drama, told in flashback through the eyes of a modern day student of her legacy, explores the psychological motivations and romantic misconceptions that surround the life of Miss Nightingale.
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Stella Richman
John Bowen
Simply Media
Classics, Drama
Release Date:
Run Time:
100 minutes
English LPCM Mono
DVD Regions:
Region 2
Aspect Ratio:
Full Screen 1.33:1 / 4:3

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Reviews (1) of Miss Nightingale

A tough cookie in early Victorian England - Miss Nightingale review by LN

Spoiler Alert

Interesting TV drama apparently taken from a stage play called MISS NIGHTINGALE, written by John Bowen (known for HETTY WAINTHROPP INVESTIGATES, ARMCHAIR THEATRE, the excellent WILDE ALLIANCE and several PLAY FOR TODAYs).

This production could indeed have been the filming of a stage play as the sets were fixed, with only one or two outside scenes, probably due to budget constraints. It gets a tad confusing as we cut between snippets of her as a child, her nursing supervisor career, the privations of the Crimea, and latterly as a near dying woman - interspersed with several scenes of a modern student researching a paper on Florence's history, trying to elicit more information & gather insight into the real woman behind the formidable legend. What was her motivation to launch into nursing in a wholly restrictive Victorian age where nurses where held to be lower than low & considered mostly as drunkards, a fact that did not please the family, even her rather more indulgent father who'd encouraged her education, but who still had total control over her adult life whilst living at home.

Janet Suzman gives "illuminating" life (ha ha) to the revered Lady of the Lamp, but she cleverly reveals FN as a very determined and complex woman, unusual for the time, someone literally tough as old boots and at times even utterly ruthless. She was less interested in physically doing a nursing job, her main claim to fame was not wiping fevered brows, it was information: writing reports, gathering statistics and pushing reform of medical practices by initiating radical changes that made the nursing profession not only respectable for ladies by the turn of the century but also changed government policies. She wasn't pushing for women to suddenly become equal unlike the Pankhursts a half a century later, but in a left handed way really did much to forward womens rights.

Definitely worth a watch, given the reverence with which history holds FN in an almost saintly high position. You might be a bit shocked at her rather unsympathetic character and hard as nails attitude contrasted with her simpering sister Parthenope and mother (played wonderfully by veteran actress Renee Asherson) who seemed to get the vapours at the least little whiff of impropriety or scandal.

Hot stuff. Try it out. Very modern and brave for 1974.

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