Nothing Sacred [DVD] [1937]

It's always interesting to watch DVD versions of films from the Golden Age of Hollywood to see how the transfer holds up and to see how creative the producers of the DVD can be in providing extras when most if not all of the original players are no longer with us. With Nothing Sacred, very competent job is done here to provide interest features, although they are decidedly slanted to focusing on Carole Lombard as opposed to her co-star Fredric March. The film itself holds up very well. As one of the very first Technicolor films ever made, it's astonishing to realize that the primary hues of the original three-strip color process are sometimes visible due to the clarity of the digital image. It doesn't take anything away from the film, an acknowledged classic, but with it's brief running length of just over an hour, the DVD certainly requires some padding to make it worthwhile. In addition to the original theatrical trailer, which is always fun to compare from the early stages of the form to today's movie-in-a-minute versions, the DVD includes two Mack Sennett produced silent comedies featuring Lombard as a stock player. These shorts, Campus Vamp and Matchmaking Mama, are pleasant enough and good examples of Lombard's work in silent films before she became a star as a featured comedienne. The shorts also feature new scores by Lee Erwin. The other extra is the inclusion of some home movies shot by Lombard and her husband Clark Gable. These are innocuous enough but don't really provide any interesting insight into the stars themselves. One could suppose that the circumstances surrounding their marriage and the well-known tragic end of Lombard's life lend a certain poignancy to them but they are merely curiosities. Regardless, it's clear the DVD producers had an appreciation for the talent that was Carole Lombard.
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Nothing Sacred
"This is New York, Skyscraper Champion of the World...Where the Slickers and Know-It-Alls peddle gold bricks to each other...And where Truth, crushed to earth, rises again more phony than a glass eye..." With this jaundiced opening title, scripter Ben Hecht introduces his classic comedy Nothing Sacred. Fredric March plays Wally Cook, a hotshot reporter condemned to writing obituaries because of his unwitting complicity in a fraud. Anxious to get back in the good graces of his editor Oliver Stone (Walter Connolly), Cook pounces on the story of New England girl Hazel Flagg (Carole Lombard), who is reportedly dying from radiation poisoning. Actually, Hazel isn't dying at all; she's been misdiagnosed by Moscow's eternally drunk doctor (Charles Winninger). But when Cook offers to take her on an all-expenses-paid trip to New York in exchange for her exclusive story, it's too good an offer to pass up. Once in the Big Apple, Hazel is feted as a heroine by the novelty-seeking populac; she enjoys the adulation at first, but soon (and with the help of gallons of alcoholic beverages) suffers the pangs of conscience. She confesses her deception to Cook, who by now has fallen in love with her. Cook and Stone conspire to keep the public from discovering the truth, eventually dreaming up a phony suicide. Travelling incognito to avoid arrest, Wally and Hazel marry and go on a honeymoon, secure in the knowledge that New York City has forgotten all about her and moved on to their next fad. Brimming with witty, acerbic dialogue and hilarious bits of physical business, Nothing Sacred is among the best "screwball" comedies of the 1930s. The musical score by Oscar Levant both mocks and celebrates the George Gershwinesque musical style then in vogue. As an added bonus, the film is lensed in Technicolor (avoid those two-color reissue prints), allowing modern viewers to see what New York City looked liked back in 1937. Nothing Sacred was later adapted into a Broadway musical, Hazel Flagg, which in turn was filmed by Dean Martin and Jerry Lewis as Living It Up (1954), with Lewis in the Carole Lombard role. ~ Hal Erickson, Rovi

Cast & Crew

  • Carole Lombard
    Carole Lombard - Hazel Flagg
  • Fredric March
    Fredric March - Wally Cook
  • Charles Winninger
    Charles Winninger - Dr. Enoch Downer
  • Walter Connolly
    Walter Connolly - Oliver Stone
  • Sig Rumann
    Sig Rumann - Dr. Emile Egglehoffer
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