Nothing Sacred (1937)

May 31st, 2024
Author: Meredith Taylor

Dir: William A Wellman | Cast: Carole Lombard, Frederic Marc | US Comedy 77’

With the benefit of hindsight there’s a bitter irony in Carole Lombard playing a girl defined by her own mortality as she seems so vibrantly alive for the duration of ‘Nothing Sacred’ – her own doctor declaring “You ain’t goin’ to die, unless you get run over or somethin’!” – yet within five years of the film’s release Lombard had indeed joined the ages.

The comedies of the 1930s were famed for their iconoclasm, qualities to be found in abundance in ‘Nothing Sacred’, the plentiful verbal wit provided by screenwriter Ben Hecht well complimented by some adroit sight gags devised by director William Wellman, with Wellman regular George Chandler playing an early paparazzi; while even composer Oscar Levent provides an early example of his cynical wit with a brief snatch of ‘Hearts and Flowers’ on the soundtrack at one point.

One strange feature is that whenever a photograph is seen a glamour shot of film star Carole Lombard is used rather than an accurate representation of Hazel Flagg herself. Modern woke sensibilities might be offended by the portrayal of black Americans as casually dishonest but the people of small town America are portrayed equally unflatteringly as sullen and monosyllabic. @RichardChatten

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