Anything Goes! – Rediscovering ‘Nothing Sacred’ (US 1937 – 77 mins)

Posted in Rediscover by - November 30, 2013
Anything Goes! – Rediscovering ‘Nothing Sacred’ (US 1937 – 77 mins)

Rediscovering ‘Nothing Sacred’ ( US 1937 – 77 Mins.)

Dr. Enoch Downer: [Speaking to Wally Cook] “You’re a newspaperman. I can smell ’em. I’ve always been able to smell ’em. Excuse me while I open the window?”


Still hilarious after all these years, William A. Wellman’s brilliant 1937 screwball comedy ‘Nothing Sacred’ is a great example of how a bad taste story can be told in a hugely likable way.

New York reporter Wally Cook (Fredric March) is reduced to writing his papers obituaries, after being caught trying to palm off an ordinary African-American as being a distinguished African ruler, during a publicised charity event.

In an effort to redeem himself, Cook asks his boss (a brilliantly harassed Walter Connolly) if he can cover the inspirational story of Hazel Flagg (Carole Lombard), a country girl who is dying from radium poisoning. Cook goes to Vermont to interview Hazel, unaware that she has recently been told by her doctor that she is in fact not dying after all. He invites the girl back to New York in the hope of his paper ‘The Morning Star’, getting a wider circulation. During all the hype and publicity, Wally and Hazel gradually find themselves falling in love.

Once it comes to light that Hazel is in fact not dying, city officials decide that, rather than cause the community embarrassment, they should let it be reported that Hazel has committed suicide. This then leaves Wally and Hazel to marry, before setting sail for the tropics.

Shot in a glorious Technicolor, and running at a mere 77 minutes, the story moves along briskly, with never a dull moment. Scene after scene is filled with snappy dialogue and clever slapstick. The bedroom fight between Fredric March and the wonderful Carole Lombard, is a joy to watch. The comic timing between the two is flawless.

Renowned stage and movie actor Fredric March made one of his rare comedy appearances with ‘Nothing Sacred’. During his highly distinguished career he won two Best Actor Oscars. His first for 1931’s ‘Dr Jekyll & Mr Hyde’, and the second for the 1946 Oscar-winning drama ‘The Best Years of Our Lives’. Later in his career March went on to give powerhouse performances in serious roles in such classics as ‘Inherit the Wind’ (1960), and the excellent political thriller ‘Seven Days In May’ (1964). He died from cancer in 1975 at the age of 77.

This was 29 Year old Carole Lombard’s only colour movie, and she was marvellous in a sometimes physically demanding performance. A talented actress and comedienne, she went on to star in a comedy for Alfred Hitchcock ‘Mr.& Mrs.Smith’ (1941) and the very popular ‘To Be or Not To Be’ (1942) with Jack Benny which, sadly turned out to be Carole’s final movie. Her career was tragically cut short when, on January 16th 1942, a plane in which she was a passenger on, crashed into a mountain outside Las Vegas. All 22 people on board were killed, including 33 year old Carole.

A colourful, rapid fire screwball comedy, ‘Nothing Sacred’ really is a timeless classic with repeated viewings guaranteed. It may also be the first movie where a character is seen giving the middle finger!

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