Airing on TCM October 6 at 4:30 PM EST, and streaming on YouTube
“Nothing Sacred” is one of the best screwball comedies of the 1930s for both its humor and biting satire of the media. Directed by William Wellman with a screenplay by Ben Hecht (who left the film after David O. Selznick refuses to cast his friend John Barrymore in the lead; numerous writers, and even Wellman and Selznick, helped finish the script), the film follows journalist Wally Cook (Fredric March), who is sent to Vermont to interview Hazel Flagg (Carole Lombard), a young woman dying of radium poisoning. But little to Wally’s knowledge, Hazel has just been cleared of any illness by her doctor, a diagnosis she meets with mixed feelings as she had wanted to use the money given to her from her job to travel to New York. Wally ends up inviting Hazel to come back to New York with him, as the newspaper takes advantage of her “illness” to increase circulation and the two fall in love.
Lombard does what she does best in this movie; she’s very funny as the silly but lovable Hazel and has good chemistry with March. The film also boasts a great supporting cast, which includes Walter Connolly, Charles Winninger, Sig Ruman, and Margaret Hamilton. “Nothing Sacred” was not a success upon its initial theatrical release, but it holds up well today for its portrayal of the media. The film was one in a series of comedies in the 30s and 40s that used satire to reveal the media’s corruptness, with the newspaper the Morning Star falsely turning Hazel into a saint and reaping the profits.
Unlike other comedies of the time, “Nothing Sacred” was filmed in Technicolor. The movie features the first use of several effects, including rear screen projection, in a color film.
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