Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Cinema Tuesdays {Nothing Sacred}

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From 1937 it's Nothing Sacred in glorious Technicolor! Scripted by Ben Hecht, who also wrote, among numerous other films, The Front Page or His Girl Friday -whichever you prefer.
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After that little mix up with the "Sultan", star reporter Wally Cook (Fredric March) was sent to write obituaries by Oliver Stone the editor. Dammit Oliver, he's not going to rot in obits. He's going to be a journalist and write stories that will tug at New York's heart strings and drive circulation up!
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Now, here's a good story that in no way can possibly be fake.
NB: Warsaw is owned by a watch factory. Watches used to be made with radium. Make sense?
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Margaret Hamilton has a brilliant cameo as the Drugstore Lady.
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Dr. Downer is the town doctor that made the diagnosis. However he wants nothing to do with reporters from the Morning Star.
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As it turns out, Dr Downer made a mistake. Hazel Flagg doesn't have radium poisoning. There's nothing wrong with her. But that means that she can't go to New York to die and she can't say anything because Dr. Downer will lose his job.
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On the way out, Wally offers her (and the good doctor) a free trip to New York! On a plane! With exclusive publicity rights to the Morning Star, of course.
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They could tell Wally that Hazel is perfectly healthy, but that would take all the fun out of it.
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So, Hazel goes around town in order for New Yorkers to admire her courage and the brave face she puts on at Death's door.
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She also spends a lot of time with Wally. You can tell where that leads to in a Screwball.
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Remember when night clubs were night clubs and they had floor shows and live horses on stage? They should bring that back.
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It's too bad that this was Carole Lombard's only film in colour.
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Now, Hazel does something that is quite natural for anyone trying to cope with new found fame and free champagne. She drinks until she falls over, which I'm sure is something we'd all do in her position. Or just with free champagne. At it's a good thing too, since New York and the Star were getting fed up with Miss Flagg taking so long to die.
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This is the best shot I could get of her dress.
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Hazel's resulting hangover also awakens her conscience and she realizes that she doesn't want to be a phoney anymore, especially since Wally will hate her if he ever found out. And Stone has sent for some medical experts to examine her.
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Naturally, there's only one way out: jump into the river and have Dr. Downer waiting in a row boat.
Love the tilted hat and veil
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But Wally gets there in time and fishes her out.
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This is one way to get around the Code: propose in a packing crate.
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But when Hazel returns to her suite she finds Dr. Eggelhoffer and his Viennese cronies waiting.
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Stone is a little upset with the news that Hazel is a fake, but Wally is pleased that they can have a nice, long marriage if he gets to keep his job.
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Then comes the news that Hazel is now dying of pneumonia. She isn't and Dr. Eggelhoffer will be there in five minutes to examine her new illness. Wally decides that the only way to raise her pulse and fake the symptoms is to have a fist fight.
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So, does Wally's plan of a little light domestic violence get Hazel out of a jam?
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You may have noticed that the film is in poor condition. That's because it's in public domain and as such hasn't been restored, even though it needs to be.
But the good news is that you can watch or download Nothing Sacred on the Internet Archive or just watch it on YouTube. Yay!


loveable_homebody said...

He he I enjoyed this humourous breakdown of the film's plot, combined with dramatic pictures! Sick women in movies, especially old movies, always look so glamorous and ... healthy.

I also enjoy old movies, but on television usually. I always wondered why sometimes the quality is so poor, so thanks for this information. It's a real shame, but great that we can enjoy the films anyway. Take that frame of the dress. Not a great shot, but it's still obviously a gorgeous dress and I want it!

Millie Motts said...

Thanks for the recommendation - I caught the first half of this on tv last night, but couldn't stay to watch the end. SO glad it's on youtube!