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Thursday, January 23, 2014

Nothing Sacred (1937)

A New York reporter (Fredric March) goes to Vermont to investigate a story about a local girl (Carole Lombard) dying of radium poisoning. He arranges for the girl to be feted in New York with lots of publicity for the last weeks of her life. The problem is, she's not dying and took the trip because she wanted to get out of the dull small town. One of the best examples of 1930s screwball comedy, NOTHING SACRED is a tart look at both the gullibility of the public and the cynicism of the media that exploits tragedy while making a profit on it. Things haven't changed much, eh? Shot in vivid Technicolor and languidly directed by William A. Wellman, the film has Lombard and March in fine form. I've always preferred March's comedy work (DESIGN FOR LIVING, I MARRIED A WITCH) to his over mannered dramatic performances and his deft performance here shows why. Remade as LIVING IT UP in 1954 with Jerry Lewis in Lombard's role while Janet Leigh got the March part. The impeccable supporting cast includes Walter Connolly, Charles Winninger, Sig Ruman, Max Rosenbloom (whose phone conversation with his brother is a comedic highlight), Troy Brown, Margaret Hamilton, Hattie McDaniel, Hedda Hopper and John Qualen.

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