For Reel

Nothing Sacred (1937)
June 8, 2015, 12:22 am
Filed under: Reviews | Tags: , ,

Director: William A. Wellman
4.5 Stars
Nothing SacredThe public’s obsession with both celebrities and with sob stories is the subject matter of Nothing Sacred, Carole Lombard’s only film in color and her second collaboration with screenwriter Ben Hecht after her star-making turn in Twentieth Century. Director William A. Wellman was not a likely match for a screwball picture, but his crude style does work well with Hecht’s cynical screenplay. A telling line occurs at a professional wrestling match in which Fredrich March rants, “They’re a symbol of the whole town. Pretending to fight, love, weep, and laugh all the time, and they’re phonies, all of them!” The bitter reporter is a familiar archetype, but this is a film in which everyone is a liar and only out for themselves. Whereas many screwball comedies allow audiences to laugh at the antics of the couple from a distance, Nothing Sacred is rather nonpartisan in that it suggests an inherent selfishness in all of us. Wellman’s crudity includes a fairly distracting game played in the blocking of the picture in which key scenes are partially obscured–whether that be by a tree, a shipping crate, and so forth. It’s almost worth it when a conversation is rendered nearly impossible by an extravagant floral centerpiece, poking fun at the film’s compulsion with having flower arrangements in the foreground.

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