Monday 19 February 2024

Nurse Diary: Wicked Finger (1979)

Nurse Diary: Wicked Finger is a 1979 entry in Nikkatsu’s roman porno cycle, the studio’s successful strategy to save itself from bankruptcy after television had threatened to destroy the Japanese film industry. Nurse Diary: Wicked Finger is a sex comedy, and a deliriously crazy one.

It’s one of quite a few nurse-themed movies in the roman porno cycle.

Ryoko (Etsuko Hara) is a pretty young nurse. She has decided to move out of the nurse’s dorm. She’s having an affair with a married doctor, Dr Edogawa, and she feels it may be indiscreet to have sex with him in the dorm.

Young student nurse Emi, who looks up to Ryoko as a surrogate big sister, has been resisting the lesbian advances of her new roommate. Emi does however seem to have discovered an interest in the delights of sapphic love and she’s now desperately trying to get into Ryoko’s pants.

Dr Edogawa has other things to distract him, in the form of a very pretty female patient named Yoko. Yoko is always developing strange symptoms which always require Dr Edogawa to give her a close physical examination. Naturally she has to take her clothes off for these examinations. If Yoko had a headache or a sore toe she would insist on taking her clothes off so that Dr Edogawa could examine her properly. Dr Edogawa is a dedicated physician so he always conducts these examinations very thoroughly, to the accompaniment of much giggling on Yoko’s part.

Dr Edogawa will have a bit of explaining to do when Yoko’s husband shows up.

Dr Edogawa also has some explaining to do when his wife finds out about his affair with Ryoko.

Ryoko has other distractions of her own to deal with, in the form of a young somewhat socially inept male neighbour named Tsugawa. Tsugawa is a Peeping Tom.

All of these sexual dramas become more and more crazy.

If you’re not familiar with Japanese comedy you might be surprised at just how broad much of the humour is. In this movie it’s very broad indeed, but combined with total insanity.

It is however genuinely very funny. Tsugawa’s misadventures with the vacuum cleaner are very funny indeed. As you might have guessed, he has turned to the vacuum cleaner to relieve his sexual frustrations brought about by gazing at Ryoko’s nakedness. It’s an episode that could easily have been merely crude but the craziness level makes it funny rather than crass.

In fact that’s typical of the whole movie. Situations with the potential to be crass end up being lightheartedly amusing instead.

The scenes with the crazy exhibitionistic Yoko manage to be both funny and sexy. The scenes with her husband are insanely over-the-top and including a fire-breathing Dr Edogawa. Literally fire-breathing. He’s been drinking pure alcohol and makes the mistake of trying to light a cigarette.

The movie does spring one or two surprises. We assume that Tsugawa is being set up as a perennial loser comic relief character with no chance of getting the girl (or any girl) but Ryoko decides he’s really sweet and she’s happy to sleep with him, even though she knows about the vacuum cleaner incident. The scene in which she sleeps with him would have been played for laughs in a British or American movie but in this case it’s oddly touching.

It’s these occasional unexpected poignant moments that make this movie interesting.

There’s a lot of nudity but overall this movie is a bit tamer than you expect from a Nikkatsu roman porno film.

Even scenes that might have been disturbing end up not being genuinely disturbing because the movie really is remarkably good-natured and is clearly aiming to amuse rather than to shock. This is an intentionally silly goofy movie and if you take any of it seriously you’ve missed the point.

Nurse Diary: Wicked Finger is totally nuts but it’s strangely likeable and even charming in its insanity. Recommended.

The Impulse DVD lacks extras (apart from some very sparse liner notes by Jasper Sharp) but the transfer is perfectly acceptable.

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