Turner Classic Movies will air a new Technicolor print of the Carole Lombard vehicle Nothing Sacred Nov. 16 as part of the month’s tribute to blonde actresses. The version TCM has been airing has been a rather grainy version, the color on which looks more like a black and white film that has been colorized than one that was actually filmed with the new technology. Besides being Lombard’s only color picture, it was also the first color flick to use process effects, montage and rear screen projection.
Nothing Sacred is among Lombard’s fantastic screwball comedies, and she marked the film as her favorite. The great comedienne plays a small town girl who has radium poisoning and is destined to die. Fredric March as a New York newspaperman seeks a story on the girl and takes her to the big city to add some joy to her bleak future, all to the benefit of the paper. Lombard’s Hazel becomes the city’s sweetheart and everyone seeks to show her a good time, but she soon learns she is not actually dying, which puts the paper and the woman at risk of feeling the wrath of duped New Yorkers.
Lombard plays a great oddball in the big city as the screwball genre suited her better than any other, in my opinion. All kinds of nonsense abound as she and her doctor try to maintain the secret of her health and protect the career of the reporter she has come to love. The movie manages a happy ending, although the original script lacked one. Penned by Ben Hecht based on a short story “Letter to the Editor”, disputes between Hecht and Producer David O. Selznick led to some new writers taking over and giving us the ending that I think produced a better result than the planned black comedy.
Lombard was right to call this her favorite movie as it really shows off her talents, though I wouldn’t call it my favorite (see instead Mr. and Mrs. Smith or To Be or Not to Be). Although she was known to not be fond of March, the two got along great on this picture with all kinds of shenanigans going on off-screen. Although I have already seen this one twice, I am looking forward to the supposed improved print and seeing Lombard in at least better-looking color.
- Nothing Sacred is set for 8 p.m. ET Nov. 16 on TCM.