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Most people in America hate the media. While this hate has different degrees ranging from distaste to outright suspicion that there is a hidden agenda to every story, it is hard to find many fans of the fourth estate.
This hate did not emerge recently, it is an American tradition. It has inspired countless books, plays, films and television shows. Nothing Sacred (1937) is one of them.
Reeling from a hoax that became front-page news, The Morning Star is the laughing stock of New York. Editor Oliver Stone (Walter Connolly) is infuriated that his ace reporter, Wallace Cook (Fredric March), would be involved in such a sham and has punished him by placing Wallace in the obituary department. He is itching to get back on the front page and thinks he has found the story that will do it.
In Warsaw, Vermont, young Hazel Flagg (Carole Lombard) has been subject to radium poisoning. With no cure, she has been handed a death sentence. Wallace wants to interview her and bring Hazel to New York for publicity purposes. Stone is certain this will provide some great headlines and increased newspaper sales.
Wallace arrives in Vermont, but is told in no uncertain terms that he is not welcome. The people of this small New England town have no love for his sort. Finally, he finds the beautiful Hazel and offers her a chance to visit New York, something she has dreamed about for many years. However, Hazel has just learned that she does not have radium poisoning, but since the newspaper is going to use her to sell more papers, she feels she might as well get a free trip out of it. Hiding this new diagnosis from Wallace, they set off for New York.
Hazel becomes the toast of the town as various civic groups and politicians use her condition and fame to further their own goals. The Morning Star sells like hotcakes. The Mayor gives her the key to the city and other groups invoke her plight to inspire supporters to help their cause. What could go wrong?
Hazel and Wallace are soon falling in love and feeling guilty about how they are using each other. Can Hazel tell the truth without embarrassing her new love and ruining his career?
Fredric March never attained the megastar status of Clark Gable, Humphrey Bogart or Spencer Tracy, but he was a major star during his time. He played a variety of roles ranging from romantic lead to mentally anguished maniac to remorseful old sage. Every time, he put in a quality performance worthy of recognition.
In Nothing Sacred, March shines as the newspaper reporter whose conscience starts to take over. He starts the film as a fast-talking, headline seeking, blindly ambitious reporter seeking the story that will make him a star. However, his love and compassion for Hazel leads him to feel guilty about using her condition for his own personal gain. He displays some great physical comedic ability in the film's climactic scenes.
Carole Lombard steals the show with her unique blend of naivete and sexiness. She successfully portrays her character as a young woman in too far over her head. It was an ability that she used to propel herself to superstardom.
In 1939, Carole Lombard married Clark Gable in one of Hollywood's most storied romances. Both were immense stars who had unsuccessful marriages, but they shared a special love. In many ways, they seemed to be destined for each other. However, Lombard's brilliant career and life were cut short in 1942, when her plane crashed while returning from a US-bond selling tour of the Midwest. Gable was crushed by her death, left Hollywood for the Air Force and watched his career tumble. After returning from war, he never seemed to reach the same level of achievement or show the talent that made him a star.
If you are in the mood for a funny, romantic comedy, check out Nothing Sacred.
Director: William Wellman
Screenplay: Ben Hecht
Fredric March Wallace Cook
Carole Lombard . Hazel Flagg
Walter Connolly Oliver Stone
Charles Winneger .. Doctor Donner
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