Night Shift (film)

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Night Shift
Night shift.jpg
Night Shift movie poster
Directed by Ron Howard
Produced by Brian Grazer
Written by Lowell Ganz
Babaloo Mandel
Music by Burt Bacharach (score & songs)
Carole Bayer Sager (songs)
David Foster (song)
Cinematography James Crabe
Edited by Robert James Kern
Mike Hill
Daniel P. Hanley
Distributed by Warner Bros.
Release dates
  • July 30, 1982 (1982-07-30)
Running time
105 minutes
Country United States
Language English
Box office $21,095,638

Night Shift is a 1982 American comedy film, one of former actor Ron Howard's earliest directorial efforts, concerning a timid night shift morgue employee whose life is turned upside down by a free-spirited entrepreneur. It stars Howard's Happy Days co-star Henry Winkler along with Michael Keaton, in his first starring role, and Shelley Long, who later in the year would star as Diane Chambers in the popular sitcom Cheers. Also appearing are Richard Belzer, and (as usual for Ron Howard films, his brother) Clint Howard. A young Kevin Costner has a brief scene as "Frat Boy #1", Shannen Doherty appears as a Bluebell scout, Dawn Dunlap as Maxine and Vincent Schiavelli plays a man who delivers a sandwich to Winkler's character.

Winkler was nominated for the Golden Globe Award for Best Actor - Motion Picture Musical or Comedy, while Keaton won the Kansas City Film Critics Circle Award for Best Supporting Actor.[1]


Chuck (Winkler), formerly a successful stockbroker, has found a refuge from the ulcer-inducing Wall Street rat race in his job as an attendant at the New York City morgue. His displeasure at being "promoted" to Night Shift Supervisor to make room for his boss's nephew is exacerbated by the irrational exuberance of Bill "Blaze" Blazejowski (Keaton), his new co-worker. They are inspired by the plight of Chuck's prostitute neighbor, Belinda (Long), to apply Chuck's financial acumen and Bill's entrepreneurial spirit to open a prostitution service headquartered at the morgue.


The movie's opening theme song is "Night Shift" by Quarterflash. The closing theme song, "That's What Friends Are For," was written by Burt Bacharach and Carole Bayer Sager. The song is performed by Rod Stewart in the film. It was later covered by Dionne Warwick & Friends (Stevie Wonder, Gladys Knight and Elton John); Warwick's version became a Billboard Grammy Award-winning #1 hit and raised millions for AIDS causes.

The official soundtrack was released in 1982 on the Ladd Company label and was distributed by Warner Bros. It included ten selected tracks from the film, six of which were written just for the film. The tracks included are as follows:

  1. "Night Shift" by Quarterflash
  2. "Street Talk" by Burt Bacharach
  3. "Girls Know How" by Al Jarreau
  4. "The Love Too Good to Last" by The Pointer Sisters
  5. "That's What Friends Are For" by Rod Stewart
  6. "Someday, Someway" by Marshall Crenshaw
  7. "Penthouse and Pavement" by Heaven 17
  8. "Talk Talk" by Talk Talk
  9. "Everlasting Love" by Rufus and Chaka Khan
  10. "Night Shift Love Theme (instrumental)" by Burt Bacharach

The soundtrack was a vinyl and cassette-only release. The versions of "Talk Talk" and "Penthouse and Pavement" that are on the soundtrack are different from any other releases of the songs as they were specially mixed for the soundtrack.

Other songs heard in the film include "You Really Got Me" by Van Halen and a live version of "Jumpin' Jack Flash" by The Rolling Stones, taken from the 1977 live album Love You Live; a section of "Cutting Branches for a Temporary Shelter" by the Penguin Cafe Orchestra is also heard.


Box office[edit]

Night Shift earned approximately $21.1 million at the domestic box office.[2]

Critical reception[edit]

The film received mostly positive reviews from critics. Review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes reports that 95% of 19 critics have given the film a positive review, with a rating average of 6.6 out of 10.[3] Many reviewers praised the performances of the two male leads, particularly Michael Keaton.

TV Guide′s Movie Guide wrote that "Winkler turns in the best performance of his career, and Keaton is wonderful."[4] The Chicago Reader Jonathan Rosenbaum compared Night Shift to the subsequent comedy film Risky Business (which also dealt with the theme of prostitution), noting that Night Shift isn't "as snappily directed or as caustically conceived, ... but it's arguably just as sexy and almost as funny."[5] The New York Times′ Janet Maslin, however, deemed Night Shift "a halfway funny movie, one that's got loads of good gags in its first half and nothing but trouble in its second."[6]


  1. ^ KCFCC Award Winners – 1980-89
  2. ^ Box Office Mojo Accessed March 19, 2016.
  3. ^ "Night Shift (1982)". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved March 13, 2010.
  4. ^ "Night Shift: Review," TV Guide's Movie Guide. Accessed March 13, 2010.
  5. ^ Rosenbaum, Jonathan. "Night Shift," Chicago Reader. Accessed March 14, 2010.
  6. ^ Maslin, Janet. "Night Shift Review," The New York Times (July 30, 1982).

External links[edit]