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Hazel Flagg of Warsaw, Vermont receives the news that her terminal case of radium poisoning from a workplace incident was a complete misdiagnosis with mixed emotions. She is happy not to be dying, but she, who has never traveled the world, was going to use the money paid to her by her factory to go to New York in style. She believes her dreams can still be realized when Wally Cook arrives in town. He is a New York reporter with the Morning Star newspaper. He believes that Hazel's valiant struggle concerning her impending death is just the type of story he needs to resurrect his name within reporting circles after a recent story he wrote led to scandal and a major demotion at the newspaper. He proposes to take Hazel to New York both to report on her story but also to provide her with a grand farewell to life. She accepts. Wally's story results in Hazel becoming the toast of New York. In spending time together, Wally and Hazel fall in love. Hazel not only has to figure out what to do ... Written by
The team of David O. Selznick producer, William Wellman director, and Fredric March leading man, after having had a big hit the year before with A Star Is Born, teamed up again to create one of the great screwball comedies of the Thirties in Nothing Sacred.
The inspiration for this film comes from the fertile imagination of Ben Hecht best known previously for co-authoring another newspaper classic, The Front Page. Hecht takes it a step further and while the Morning Post reports the news faster and better than its rivals, it doesn't create the news. Here the media is satirized for creating a celebrity.
Poor Carole Lombard as Hazel Flagg, country girl from rural Vermont who is misdiagnosed by her country doctor Charles Winninger as having incurable radiation poisoning. It's a small news item over the wire services.
But when hotshot reporter Fredric March gets a hold of it, he convinces his editor Walter Connolly to build up the story by bringing Lombard to New York and ballyhooing her into celebrity status. Lombard and Winninger by now know an error in diagnosis was made, but who can turn down an all expense paid trip to New York? The story just mushrooms until it gets away from any kind of control.
The difference sometimes between comedy and drama is often so slight as to be imperceptible. There's not much difference between Fredric March's character in Nothing Sacred and Kirk Douglas's in Ace in the Hole. Both are down on their luck newspaper people looking for a comeback and both exploit a story to their own ends, March comically and Douglas tragically. But the plots are more similar than one realizes.
Even today we still hunger for our celebrities some of whom are nothing but professional celebrities. The sad life of Anna Nicole Smith is proof of that.
When you think about Anna Nicole Smith though Nothing Sacred appears dated it actually has a very timeless message about the power of media to create and destroy.
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