Nothing Sacred (1937)

74-75 mins | Screwball comedy | 26 November 1937

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HISTORY

According to various NYT articles, this film cost over one million dollars to make, model Betty Douglas was loaned by Walter Wanger's company, and the film marked the first use in a color film of process effects, montage and rear projection. Backgrounds for the rear projection scenes were filmed on the streets of New York. NYT notes that after this first use in a color film of process shots, which involved the projection of film onto transparent screens, Paramount developed the method further.
       NYT rated the film "one of the most entertaining shows of the season" and Var agreed, calling it "one of the top comedies of the season." Modern sources note that Ben Hecht wrote the screenplay in two weeks on a train, and that Budd Schulberg and Dorothy Parker were called in to write the final scenes. Modern sources also list the following additional credits: Contr wrt David O. Selznick, William Wellman, Sidney Howard, Moss Hart, George S. Kaufman and Robert Carson; Aerial photog Wilfred M. Cline ; Mus dir Louis Forbes ; Prod mgr Raymond A. Klune; Scen asst Barbara Keon ; Publicity dir Russell Birdwell. A musical based on this film and James Street's story, entitled Hazel Flagg , book by Ben Hecht, music by Jule Styne, opened in New York on 11 Feb 1953. Paramount produced a remake entitled Living It Up in 1954 starring Jerry Lewis in the Lombard role, Dean Martin as the doctor and Janet Leigh as the ... More Less

According to various NYT articles, this film cost over one million dollars to make, model Betty Douglas was loaned by Walter Wanger's company, and the film marked the first use in a color film of process effects, montage and rear projection. Backgrounds for the rear projection scenes were filmed on the streets of New York. NYT notes that after this first use in a color film of process shots, which involved the projection of film onto transparent screens, Paramount developed the method further.
       NYT rated the film "one of the most entertaining shows of the season" and Var agreed, calling it "one of the top comedies of the season." Modern sources note that Ben Hecht wrote the screenplay in two weeks on a train, and that Budd Schulberg and Dorothy Parker were called in to write the final scenes. Modern sources also list the following additional credits: Contr wrt David O. Selznick, William Wellman, Sidney Howard, Moss Hart, George S. Kaufman and Robert Carson; Aerial photog Wilfred M. Cline ; Mus dir Louis Forbes ; Prod mgr Raymond A. Klune; Scen asst Barbara Keon ; Publicity dir Russell Birdwell. A musical based on this film and James Street's story, entitled Hazel Flagg , book by Ben Hecht, music by Jule Styne, opened in New York on 11 Feb 1953. Paramount produced a remake entitled Living It Up in 1954 starring Jerry Lewis in the Lombard role, Dean Martin as the doctor and Janet Leigh as the reporter. More Less

GEOGRAPHIC LOCATIONS
SOURCE CITATIONS
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Box Office
27 Nov 1937.
---
Daily Variety
19 Nov 37
p. 3.
Film Daily
24 Nov 37
p. 11.
Harrison's Reports
11 Dec 37
p. 199.
Hollywood Reporter
19 Nov 37
p. 3.
Life
6 Dec 37
pp. 36-39.
Motion Picture Daily
22 Nov 37
p. 8.
Motion Picture Herald
21 Aug 37
pp. 16-17.
Motion Picture Herald
27 Nov 37
p. 52.
New York Times
11 Jul 1937.
---
New York Times
22 Aug 1937.
---
New York Times
21 Nov 1937.
---
New York Times
26 Nov 37
p. 27.
New York Times
29 May 1938.
---
Variety
1 Dec 37
p. 14.
CAST
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
Olin Howland
Hattie McDaniels
Dick Rich
Jinx Falkenberg
+
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
DISTRIBUTION COMPANY
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTORS
PRODUCER
WRITERS
Scr
Contr to trmt
Contr to trmt
PHOTOGRAPHY
ART DIRECTORS
Art dir
Main title des by
FILM EDITORS
Film ed
Supv film ed Supv film ed
SET DECORATOR
Int dec
COSTUMES
Miss Lombard's costumes by
Other costumes by
MUSIC
Novelty swing music by
Orig music by
SOUND
Rec
VISUAL EFFECTS
Spec eff
DANCE
Dance dir
COLOR PERSONNEL
For the Technicolor Company: Color supv
Associate
SOURCES
LITERARY
Suggested by the short story "Letter to the Editor" by James H. Street in Hearst's International-Cosmopolitan (Oct 1937).
DETAILS
Release Date:
26 November 1937
Premiere Information:
New York opening: 25 November 1937
Production Date:
12 June--early August 1937
Copyright Claimant:
Selznick International Pictures, Inc.
Copyright Date:
8 December 1937
Copyright Number:
LP7658
Physical Properties:
Sound
Western Electric Noiseless Recording
Color
Technicolor
Duration(in mins):
74-75
Length(in feet):
6,685 , 6,747
Length(in reels):
8
Country:
United States
PCA No:
3744
Passed by NBR:
No
SYNOPSIS

A man posing as the Sultan of Mazipan is exposed as a Harlem bootblack at a banquet sponsored by the New York Morning Star to honor him for offering to donate ten dollars to every dollar given to establish the "Morning Star Temple," supposedly with twenty-seven halls of culture. Editor Oliver Stone assigns the perpetrator of the hoax, star reporter Wally Cook, to write obituaries, but after he suffers several indignities, Cook convinces Stone to send him to Warsaw, Vermont to interview radium poisoning victim Hazel Flagg, who has been diagnosed as having only six months to live. Before Cook meets her, Hazel learns from her doctor, Enoch Downer, that his original diagnosis was in error and that she is not ill. However, when Cook offers to take her to New York as a guest of the newspaper, she jumps at the chance to leave Warsaw. In the city, Hazel is given a ticker tape parade, and she receives the key to the city. She becomes an inspiration to poets and artists, and is guest of honor at a wrestling match and at a nightclub's "Hazel Flagg Night," but the phoniness of the adulation angers Cook, who becomes genuinely concerned about Hazel. She too is falling in love with Cook, and when he sends for radium poisoning expert Dr. Emil Eggelhoffer, she writes a suicide note thanking the city and arranges for Enoch to rescue her following a jump into the river. Cook goes to stop her, but because he can't swim, Hazel rescues him. He proposes and even when he learns after the examination by Eggelhoffer and his three colleagues ... +


A man posing as the Sultan of Mazipan is exposed as a Harlem bootblack at a banquet sponsored by the New York Morning Star to honor him for offering to donate ten dollars to every dollar given to establish the "Morning Star Temple," supposedly with twenty-seven halls of culture. Editor Oliver Stone assigns the perpetrator of the hoax, star reporter Wally Cook, to write obituaries, but after he suffers several indignities, Cook convinces Stone to send him to Warsaw, Vermont to interview radium poisoning victim Hazel Flagg, who has been diagnosed as having only six months to live. Before Cook meets her, Hazel learns from her doctor, Enoch Downer, that his original diagnosis was in error and that she is not ill. However, when Cook offers to take her to New York as a guest of the newspaper, she jumps at the chance to leave Warsaw. In the city, Hazel is given a ticker tape parade, and she receives the key to the city. She becomes an inspiration to poets and artists, and is guest of honor at a wrestling match and at a nightclub's "Hazel Flagg Night," but the phoniness of the adulation angers Cook, who becomes genuinely concerned about Hazel. She too is falling in love with Cook, and when he sends for radium poisoning expert Dr. Emil Eggelhoffer, she writes a suicide note thanking the city and arranges for Enoch to rescue her following a jump into the river. Cook goes to stop her, but because he can't swim, Hazel rescues him. He proposes and even when he learns after the examination by Eggelhoffer and his three colleagues that Hazel is a phony and will live, he still wants to marry her. To make it appear that she is sick, Cook knocks her cold. When Hazel revives, she, in turn, knocks out Cook. Caught by Stone, Hazel confesses the hoax to the mayor and leading citizens, but they decide that news of her health would not be good for the city. As newspapers exhibit Hazel's suicide note and the city mourns at her funeral, Hazel, Wally and Enoch sail for the tropics. +

Legend
Viewed by AFI
Partially Viewed
Offscreen Credit
Name Occurs Before Title
AFI Life Achievement Award

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The American Film Institute is grateful to Sir Paul Getty KBE and the Sir Paul Getty KBE Estate for their dedication to the art of the moving image and their support for the AFI Catalog of Feature Films and without whose support AFI would not have been able to achieve this historical landmark in this epic scholarly endeavor.