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HENRY WINKLER AND MICHAEL KEATON PIMPING 'NIGHT SHIFT'

Title: NIGHT SHIFT Director: Ron Howard Year: 1982 Rating: ****1/2

As a director, Ron Howard got his groove before realizing he really had it. Then he became more confident behind the lens for big budget catchall mainstream flicks like BACKDRAFT, and therein the Emperor was naked to the bone...

Wedged in-between Howard's Roger Corman car crash vehicle GRAND THEFT AUTO and his hit phenom SPLASH, NIGHT SHIFT is one of the most original and unique buddy comedies of all time...

Henry Winkler in NIGHT SHIFT

Starring Henry Winkler under his former HAPPY DAYS co-star's easygoing yet equally edgy direction, the popular icon revealing a side much different than Fonzie and more like himself: A whining beta male Woody Allen-type rather than television's leather clad James Dean...

Thus the character-driven plot centers on Winkler as a morgue attendant, formerly a Wall Street whiz, contentedly working by himself on the NIGHT SHIFT until getting stuck with a crazy idea man in Michael Keaton....

Michael Keaton in NIGHT SHIFT

If viewed after knowing Keaton from the likes of BEETLEJUICE or THE DREAM TEAM, it may seem like just another hyperactive man-child performance — but this was his first real role, and still remains one of his funniest: he's a bonafide comic relief in a comedy film..

Which doesn't mean he steals the movie entirely since Winkler has ton of great lines, and isn't just a straight man despite a good number of hilarious reactions from his polar opposite workmate: Added to that: some of the best scenes take place before Keaton rambles his way into the anally precise life of our put-upon victim-hero...

Henry Winkler and cousin Richard Belzer in NIGHT SHIFT

Meanwhile, as things begin to roll, Shelley Long serves as the love interest ingenue; the golden heart of a dozen hookers working with the out-of-their-league pimps after their boss is killed by two thugs (who remain a peripheral threat, including Winkler's cousin, Richard Belzer)...

And as Winkler's Chuck falls out of love with his neurotic fiancee and becomes smitten with Long's dream girl, Belinda, their endearing friendship and budding romance flows along with the comedic two-dude duo without distraction...

Shelley Long and Henry Winkler in NIGHT SHIFT

Belinda's not just dessert or eye candy but part of the story. And so, as for the unique, hilarious and completely bizarre entirety of NIGHT SHIFT, here's more proof that they just don't make 'em like this anymore. In fact, there wasn't anything like it before, or after...

A perfect hybrid of romantic comedy with a glossy, searing saxophone score befitting the 1980's along with the exploitation factor of the risqué, sexually-driven 1970's. So just know this: before Ron Howard became a popular, mostly mainstream Oscar Winning director, basking in the sunshine of Hollywood (after growing up within it), he scored his best shot almost completely in the dark. 

Henry Winker in NIGHT SHIFT with Shelley Long and Gina Hecht
Shannen Doherty in NIGHT SHIFT
Michael Keaton in NIGHT SHIFT
Michael Keaton in NIGHT SHIFT with Kevin Costner pre-fame cameo

Shelley Long in NIGHT SHIFT with Reid Cruickshanks and Henry Winkler
Shelley Long in NIGHT SHIFT
Michael Keaton in NIGHT SHIFT with Henry Winkler
Michael Keaton in NIGHT SHIFT with Black Sabbath Mob Rules poster
Michael Keaton in NIGHT SHIFT

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