Nurse on Wheels (1963)

Juliet Mills, Ronald Lewis, Joan Sims, Noel Purcell,
Quietly competent young Joanna moves with her scatterbrain mother to a country village to take up her first job as District Nurse. She soon overcomes the suspicion of her patients used to someone rather older, while becoming romantic
  • 6.2 /10.0 IMDB Rating:
  • DatePublished:
  • 2018-09-07 Added:
  • John Burke, Norman Hudis, Writer:
  • Gerald Thomas, Director:
  • Peter Rogers, Producer:
5 / 10

Dated, but enjoyable for fans of old-fashioned British comedy

NURSE ON WHEELS does feel very much like a non-canon CARRY ON film, a feeling exacerbated by the presence of not one, not two, but three CARRY ON big names: Gerald Thomas as director, Peter Rogers as producer, and Norman Hudis as writer. Add in the presence of a number of CARRY ON players in support and you have pretty much a CARRY ON movie in all but name.

The tag line proclaims this as "funnier than CARRY ON NURSE!" and I would have to disagree with that statement. The early black and white CARRY ONs were all very good indeed; there was no time taken to get the series up to speed, they had the formula correct from the word go and the resulting films feel fresh and sparkly even now. NURSE ON WHEELS spoils things a bit by including a large romantic sub-plot which makes this sometimes feel like a light romance from the 1940s rather than an early '60s comedy.

Still, there are plenty of reasons to tune in, not least the efforts of the solid cast. Juliet Mills is full of warmth and humour as the district nurse lead, although the fish-out-of-water type humour feels very quaint and even antiquated for a modern viewership. Ronald Lewis is stuck with the stodgy role of a farmer, although Noel Purcell shines as the eccentric general store owner. Sadly, one of the best known of the CARRY ON actors, Joan Sims, has her comic talents wasted in the part of a jealous rival. Still, Esma Cannon is delightfully eccentric, old talents like Joan Hickson and Renee Houston remain amusing, George Woodbridge is cast delightfully against type, and Jim Dale makes a mark early on in his career.

5 / 10

Did You Say 'Nurse'?

Juliet Mills is the new district nurse in a rural English village in this slight but amusing movie, populated by amusing eccentrics, in this mild version of CARRY ON NURSE. She deals with the usual comic issues of the National Health service and is pursued by a sturdy and stiff young doctor, with the usual mishaps one would expect in a movie directed by Gerald Thomas.

Juliet Mills is pretty, young and handles her standard-issue role very well, as one would expect of some who had a movie career stretching back more than twenty years (her first role was as a baby in IN WHICH WE SERVE under the direction her godfather, Noel Coward). One would hardly expect less of a daughter of John Mills, whose sister Hayley was a juvenile star. Even so, this is a slight affair; her role was intended for Joan Sims, who wound up taking a supporting role. Given the popularity of "young women in the world" comedies in the 1960s, this is not particularly memorable.

7 / 10

Such quaint times have sadly passed.

Nurse on wheels is directed by Gerald Thomas and adapted to screenplay by Norman Hudis from the novel Nurse Is a Neighbour written by Joana Jones. It stars Juliet Mills, Ronald Lewis, Joan Sims, Noel Purcell, Esma Cannon, Raymond Huntley, Athene Seyler and Norman Rossington. Music is by Eric Rogers and photography by Alan Hume.

With much of the production team and some of the same actors coming from the British institution that is the Carry On series of films, Nurse on Wheels has been marketed over the years as being an unofficial Carry On movie. Even the Region 2 DVD release proudly proclaims that it is "funnier than Carry On Nurse" (1959), while the back of the cover wrongly states that folk legends like Sid James and Charles Hawtrey also star in the movie! It certainly feels like a Carry on movie in production terms, from Eric Rogers' musical score to the characterisations on show, it carry's the same attributes. What it doesn't have, however, is the bawdy nature and dialogue innuendos so firmly ensconced in Carry On lore.

Nurse on Wheels is a throw back to a quaint time in British cinema, where comedy structure was simple and the actors enjoyed their work. The plot takes young new District Nurse Joana Jones (Mills) into the village of Blandley (hee hee), where she has the unenviable task of replacing the previous, older and much trusted, nurse of the village. Not only does she have to put up with gossip and suspicion, but also the attentions of red blooded males; some unwanted, one other encouraged. It holds absolutely no surprises and the comedy, even with the odd slapstick moment, is as gentle and harmless as it gets. With its eccentric characters, a sweet affecting backdrop of village life and all round warm glow, it's perfect afternoon viewing for the family really. The stalwart cast are faultless, with Mills utterly lovely and Cannon lighting the screen up with another of her jumping-bean performances. While Gerald Thomas was a good pro, and here he once again proves to be unobtrusive with his direction.

It's more about putting a smile on your face and a glow in your belly than splitting your sides, and there's nothing wrong with that. 7/10

6 / 10

The Great Esme Cannon

She gets more screen time here than in most of her films and she grasps the opportunity with both hands.She is splendidly dithering.She reminds me of Billie Burke who played dithering matrons in Hollywood.Much of this film is familiar stuff.It looks as if Norman Hudis has taken the driving lesson sequence from Please Turn Over.Nevertheless it is still entertaining.

7 / 10

Brit comedy about Nurse Jones

A fun little British film, Nurse On Wheels stars Juliet Mills as Nurse Jones, who passes her driving test and takes the job as District Nurse. It's all very light and fluffy. Some clever sight gags and word play along the way. Lots of fun little scenes, as she gets her drivers license, and as she and her relatives plot to catch a man. Of course, she'll be best known as Nanny, on Nanny and the Professor. Good, clean fun. Whimsical. Even a couple of "naughty-ish" lines in the script, if you catch them. A Fun one. Shows on Turner Classics.