Nurses For Sale
aka Käpt'n Rauhbein aus St. Pauli
West Germany 1971
Directed by Rolf Olsen (and Al Adamson)
IIP/Severin Blu Ray Zone A/B/C
In my last review of an Al Adamson film I mentioned that, for every two or three truly dreadful movies I’ve had to sit through, an unpolished gem of a movie would surface in his directorial output. Well, after the pretty good Jessi’s Girls (reviewed here), the pendulum has already swung back and hit me in the face big time with what is easily one of the worst films on Severin’s lovely Al Adamson - The Masterpiece Collection box set but, it may not be completely Adamson’s fault (although, yeah, it also may well be).
Okay, so this film is mostly not Adamson’s film at all. It’s another one of his patch up jobs for the US market when this entry of the Käpt'n Rauhbein series of movies, Rolf Olsen’s Käpt'n Rauhbein aus St. Pauli, starring Curd Jürgens as the titular Captain (Stromberg from The Spy Who Loved Me, reviewed here) couldn’t find a distributor. So the film has had quite a lot taken out of it to ‘improve’ it and, Adamson has added 20 minutes of nude and sex scenes of totally unrelated nurses to it, who are supposed to blend in with the nurses who are captured by terrorists in the original version of the movie. Then, to top it all off, the original footage is badly dubbed into American English and sounds like something you’d expect to see in a Tin Tin cartoon.
The film is awful and it’s quite hard to follow but, the nurses in question are trying to tend to an epidemic in a jungle before they are captured by terrorists. Meanwhile, Jürgens and his merry men are supposed to be delivering antibiotics in their ship... which gets confused for heroin and so that gets stolen. When he destroys his own alcohol cargo, because a corrupt government official wants to confiscate it to sell and line his own pockets (sounds like the current state of UK politics, doesn’t it?), Jürgens is slung in jail. He escapes with the aid of his men but, on the way to rendezvousing with his ship in a safer port, by walking through the jungle, he gets embroiled in the whole terrorist thing and takes it upon himself to rescue the girls.
And it doesn’t hang together well, possibly because of the many excised scenes and possibly because of the additional sex stuff shoehorned into the film. I can imagine that the original version of the movie, in German with English subtitles, is far more watchable than this monstrosity, to be fair but, since I can’t judge that one (and believe me, I’m not going to be bothering to track down a copy), then I’m only able to base my judgement on what I can see and hear here.
The only real saving grace in Nurses For Sale, as far as I could see, were the performances of Jürgens and an actress who I’d not heard of before called Johanna von Koczian. Both performers manage to somehow maintain a certain dignity here, especially Koczian. The rest of the cast are... a bit up and down in terms of their credibility it seems to me. Some of them are playing the comedy element of their characters quite broadly and this may well be a hangover from previous films in the Käpt'n Rauhbein franchise, for all I know. Again, I’m trying not to judge it too harshly for something I’m only guessing at and half seeing. Adamson’s contribution to the film, apart from leaving it in a semi-coherent mess, seems to be that he has some nice breasts in it... which I can completely relate to but, honestly, it’s really not worth doing that to a movie just for the sake of a bit of nudity to sell the picture to a certain section of the audience in the US. Or maybe it is... maybe the picture was that bad anyway (apparently a Käpt'n Rauhbein musical number was excised for this edition). Yeah, I’ve honestly got nothing much useful to say about this one so... a short review and for that I’m sorry but, well, hopefully this means the next film in the Adamson box set will be another diamond in the rough.