Nothing Sacred (1937)


A disgraced New York reporter (Fredric March, The Best Years of Our Lives) uses a Vermont woman (Carole Lombard, My Man Godfrey) with a terminal disease to save his career, but unbeknownst she is in perfect health.

Reaction & Thoughts:

“For good clean fun, there’s nothing like a wake.”

Nothing Sacred is a hilariously zany farce with an edge. This early David O. Selznick (Gone with the Wind) production offers an amazingly vicious look at the world of news media. It also shows a less than flattering picture of the American culture.

It  was directed by William A. Wellman (Battlegournd). The screnplay was written by Ben Hecht (Notorious). Ex-reporter Hecht knew a thing or two about journalism. Nothing Sacred is, among other things, a savage, full-frontal assault on the newspaper industry at a time when most people believed in the integrity of journalism.

It’s also a surprisingly merciless indictment of the gullibility of the masses. And the movie doesn’t stop there, and continues to demolish a few other sacred crows along the way. Nothing Sacred has no misgivings about making fun of things like charitable organizations, religion, etc. In addition, none of the characters pay for their sins, and that’s an interesting thing to see in an old Hollywood movie.

Nothing Sacred  is impeccably acted by a small but great cast. Carole Lombard provides the film with its best and funniest moments — she’s absolutely divine! Fredric March manages to keep up with Lombard’s energy and genius. Walter Connolly (It Happened One Night) steals many scenes as March’s long-suffering boss.

The delightful cast includes Charles Winninger (star of John Ford’s The Sun Shines Bright), Margaret Hamilton (The Wizard of Oz), Sig Ruman (A Night at the Opera) and famed Hollywood columnist Hedda Hopper (Sunset Boulevard) as a ship passenger. Hattie McDaniel (Gone with the Wind) has a hilarious cameo. And that’s Monty Woolley (The Man Who Came to Dinner) as one of the European physicians.

Conclusions & Final Thoughts:

Despite all the talent involved and a genuinely amusing premise, the film was an unexpected box office disappointment. Perhaps 1930s audiences were not receptive to such a cynic view of life. In any case, Nothing Sacred is a short, but funny and intelligent farce that looks more relevant now than ever. The movie is in public domain, so beware of inferior-looking prints. Highly recommended! Color, 71 minutes, Not Rated.

3 responses to “Nothing Sacred (1937)

  1. Good examination of the theme. The one thing I’d take issue with is the claim that Wellman didn’t have a signature style. One of his techniques was to obscure faces at the most emotional moments–see the conversation in this movie that takes place with the characters blocked by a tree branch. He also used more 1/2 and 3/4s profiles than most directors so that, when he did use a full-face shot, it had an impact.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hmm … that’s interesting. I like “Wild Bill” a lot, but didn’t realize he had a “style.” I’m going to pay more attention next time I watch one of his films. Thanks!


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s