Nurses For Sale (1971)

The story: A captain from Hamburg brings his ship in some Latin American port. But his main cargo, sugarcane alcohol in barrels, is confiscated by customs, so he orders to dump them overboard (and at least allow some bystanders to capture a bucket or hat-full). His other cargo, “Contagionol” vaccine for a hospital, is stolen on the way there. So he and his First Officer are arrested. The other crew is ordered to leave port with the ship.

Meanwhile, some six young nurses from Germany, on the road to their workplace in the jungle, are kidnapped by rebels for ransom.

The captain and officer escape from prison (in a very implausible act involving two painters) and try to follow up. The captain manages to get hired as steward aboard a luxury yacht which happens to sail in the same direction. He saves the life of the vaccine stealer’s daughter (by picking a fat spider from her bikini top), is told where the hostages are kept, and frees them mostly single-handedly.

One could film this story in a thrilling way, or as a travesty. Sadly, neither was done. The film is too sober to qualify as a comedy, and too implausible to thrill. At least some riverside scenes must have been shot on location, but they didn’t make much of it.

Consider that Curd J├╝rgens, a major German movie star, had over 30 years of film experience then, among which several classics, had acted with Ingrid Bergman, Yul Brynner, Orson Welles before.. and 6 years later in “The Spy Who Loved Me”.. how can his part be excused? “He was old, and needed the money”?

One reason to watch this is to get a feeling how deep the crisis of German movie-making was in 1971. Decades before and after, exciting, witty, surprising films were made in Germany, but this one sure was a low. It is surprising that it came out on DVD these years, in very degraded image quality, with yellowish haze all over it. Film historians may use it as a good example of a bad movie, but besides..