Main Features No 70
Reviewing Nothing Sacred (1937)
A reporter aims to redeem himself after it is revealed he held a function with a fake nobleman. He hopes to write a story about a dying woman to regain his credibility. However this lady has just found out she’s not dying, but unbeknownst to him keeps up the pretence. However, the pair fall in love.
Nothing Sacred Movie Trailer, Movie Powder,www.youtube.com
On hearing about this – the first blogathon I’ve entered this year – Carole Lombard Blogathon, I was keen on entering thinking that she had appeared as a character along with her then Hollywood peers in the Howard Hughes biopic, The Aviator (2004). This film starring the always lovely Leonardo DiCaprio as Hughes and a whos who of 2000s Hollywood starring as Whos Who in Hollywood in the 1920s to 1940s. After looking into it more, sadly she wasn’t. Then, remembering Lombard’s marriage to Clark Gable, I learnt he had hoped she would be his Scarlett O’Hara to his Rhett Butler in Gone With the Wind (1939). Leading to the next possible review topic, The Scarlett O’ Hara War (1980), in which the star couple appeared as characters in this film telling how the film’s producer searched for this iconic film’s leading lady. Here Lombard was played by Sharon Gless, ie Cagney from 80s cop show, Cagney and Lacey (1981-1988). Despite the Dallas (1978-91) connection with lovely Morgan Brittany – in Dallas she played the dastardly Katherine Wentworth, Pam’s evil stepsister – appearing as Vivien Leigh, the casting of Carole Lombard put me off this idea. As I’d keep seeing her as Cagney. Final hopeful choice, of the Lombard biopics, was Gable and Lombard (1976) which sounded excellent, bizarrely also casting Brittany as Vivien Leigh, but Jill Clayburgh as Lombard and James Brolin as Gable. Seemed ideal until I saw the trailer..
So after reading through her films suggested in her filmography, and seeing the Cary Grant slot had been filled, I went for this choice, Nothing Sacred (1937) at random. And I loved it! The film was made in Technicolor and is an example of a screwball and Battle of the Sexes type comedy. It was the only film made by Lombard in Technicolor and was reported to be one of her favourite films. The film reminded me of a more recent film, Down with Love (2003) in that both had a strong leading lady and that her dishonesty led to love between the lead characters in both films leading to some fun, comic moments. Nothing Sacred has many of these, despite the gravity of the subject.
The script – with uncredited contributions from Dorothy Parker – is a comic parable of dramatising the complexities of lying, over the benefits telling the truth. This was more preferable way of demonstrating this, than the than a melodramatic drama it could have been. Like An Affair to Remember (1957), the couple’s first kiss is not seen, but suggested and spoken of. I found more romantic than films where they appear to be snogging too profusely and you almost want to rush on set to stop them. There also were all to brief blink and you’ll miss them appearances including Margaret Hamilton (The Wicked Witch from the West from The Wizard of Oz (1939)). The lead casting and their chemistry is excellent throughout and Lombard shines as the leading lady.
This short but sweet film is a wonderful film, marred only by the really creepy opening credits. These involved some rather ghoulish looking ceramic dolls with caricatured faces of four of the main cast. But once you get past these, the film is a delight. Incidentally, the rest of the cast and crew fare better with their credits with cute wee cartoons depicting their role behind and in front of the screen.
So on with the show. Wallace (Wally) Cook, a New York based, ace reporter hosts an event alongside an African nobleman. However, after this nobleman is revealed as a fake, as his family arrive.. from Harlem. Cook (Fredric March) is then demoted by his boss and in attempt to get back in favour with him, Cook suggests he interviews a young lady Hazel Flagg (Carole Lombard) who is dying from radium poisoning. After winning over his boss (Walter Connolly)- named Oliver Stone (I kid you not) – and on his last warning for providing a legitimate story, Cook heads to Warsaw, Vermont to interview Hazel.
In Vermont, Cook quizzes the unhelpful townspeople and her Doctor of Hazel’s whereabouts. Hazel is told that she’s not dying by her Doctor. The pair bump into each other with a mutual misunderstanding of her tears, she is upset as she had made plans to visit New York, he thinks it’s due to her fatal condition. He tells her of his plan to take her to New York with planned visits here, there and everywhere and she asks her Doctor to accompany them. She secures her Doctor’s silence which is easily done as he has a grudge against the paper.
The “dying” Hazel becomes the toast of New York and is seen as a symbol of heroism and courage by the townspeople and the Press. Cook’s story about her hits the front page.. as she makes personal appearances along with the reporter in all number of New York venues. Her guilt grows about the lie, and as the pair appear to have a growing romantic chemistry, it’s all going to get terribly – but comically – complicated!
Although her character is a fake, Lombard makes her character less conniving, and sweet and loveable as the enormity of her guilt sets in. She fears for it’s consequences for Cook and the people of New York who she has inspired. There are a few moments when you almost feel her pain, as she is sung to by a choir of children and her agony as she tries unsuccessfully to put an end to the story. This through a staged attempt at suicide, but is stopped from doing this by Cook still unaware of her dishonesty. However in the latter predicament things backfire for her spectacularly, as it leads to ta moment of romance and a proposal of marriage. March as her leading man is sweet and almost too forgiving, leading to some fun comic slapstick scenes between March and Lombard when finally he discovers the truth, to help cover his ass and her untruths. And do get the tissues handy as he reacted, and could have said as Lombard’s real life husband Gable said in his most famous role, “Frankly, my dear I don’t give a damn”. But then kissed her, leading to a soppy, happy ending.
Weeper Rating: /10
Handsqueeze Rating: /10
Hulk Rating: /10
Bonus Trailer: No
Blogathons Joined 2017, No 1
The Carole Lombard Blogathon
This review was entered for the blogathon run by In the Good Old Days of Classic Hollywood and Phyllis Loves Movies. I have not reviewed any of the cast of this movie. However Morgan Brittany featured in my 5 Galaxies of Guest Star Ensembles and Dallas reviews. She is also mentioned in my Celebrities Mentions pages for this and last year.