Sunday, November 18, 2018

Tonight's Movie: Nothing Sacred (1937) - A Kino Lorber Blu-ray Review

The screwball comedy NOTHING SACRED (1937), starring Carole Lombard and Fredric March, has just been released by Kino Lorber in a Special Restored Edition.

Kino Lorber is releasing the film, "from a brand-new HD master from a 2K scan of the restored fine grain master," on both Blu-ray and DVD.

I've seen the film multiple times over the years, including in 35mm at the long-gone Vagabond Theater in Los Angeles when I was a teen; I don't recall the condition of that print, but the films there usually looked great.

Other than possibly that, this Blu-ray is surely the best-looking print of NOTHING SACRED I've ever seen; prints are typically washed-out, almost with a Trucolor look, but this Blu-ray looks absolutely terrific. For anyone who loves the film, the Kino Lorber Blu-ray is thus a "must buy."

I've long had a special interest in Carole Lombard -- recounted here and here -- but truth to tell, NOTHING SACRED isn't one of my favorite Lombard comedies. Its story of media hysteria is more timely than ever, but the film's combination of deception and cynicism always makes me view the film with something approaching distaste. I hope each time I see it that it will work better for me, but while I appreciate it enough to rewatch it from time to time, it's never really moved up in my estimation.

Lombard plays Hazel Flagg, who has been diagnosed with radium poisoning. She learns early on that the diagnosis was wrong and she's not going to die -- but she doesn't want newspaperman Wally Cook (March) to know because his newspaper has just promised her an all-expenses-paid trip to New York City.

The "brave" Hazel is feted wherever she goes in New York, but it finally sets in with her that she's in big, big trouble, as everyone in New York expects her to die, and soon! Not only is she not going to die, but she and Wally have fallen in love. What to do...?!

The screenplay of this 77-minute film was by the great Ben Hecht and numerous uncredited contributors; I assume the best dialogue to be Hecht's, but who knows? Also of note is some of director William A. Wellman's creative staging; a memorable love scene is played with only Lombard's feet showing on screen!

Other individual pleasures stand out in the film, including some particularly good lines and Lombard's unique brand of goofiness, yet it doesn't all quite come together for me as one satisfying package. I think mine is a minority take on this film so, as the saying goes, "your mileage may vary."

NOTHING SACRED was filmed in Technicolor by W. Howard Greene.

Walter Connolly and Charles Winninger head a supporting cast filled with familiar faces, including John Qualen, George Chandler, Hedda Hopper, Leonid Kinskey, Charles Lane, and Hattie McDaniel, to name but a few.

The disc has a commentary track by William Wellman Jr. which I've not yet heard, but I've had the pleasure of hearing Mr. Wellman speak at numerous screenings, as well as the opportunity to chat with him one on one (most recently last month), and he's wonderfully knowledgeable about every aspect of his father's career. My expectation is thus that the track will be worthwhile and informative.

Other extras are the movie trailer and a gallery of trailers for three additional films available from Kino Lorber.

Kino Lorber has simultaneously released a restored edition of MADE FOR EACH OTHER (1939), starring Lombard and James Stewart, which I'll be reviewing here in the near future.

Thanks to Kino Lorber for providing a review copy of this Blu-ray.


Blogger Steve Hayner said...

Included among the supporting cast is also, of course, Margaret Hamilton. Beyond that, I found the film memorable for the several second in-color view of the glorious skyline of Manhattan.

5:39 PM  
Blogger Lee R said...

My favorite Carole Lombard movie is IN NAME ONLY with Cary Grant. It's both funny and sad and ends in a way you'd like a movie to end. I usually watch this movie at Christmas time, I even have a nice colorized version of it, that's the one I like best.

5:50 PM  
Blogger Laura said...

Steve, thanks for mentioning Margaret Hamilton. So many great faces turn up in the movie just briefly! Olin Howland is yet another great character actor in the movie I didn't mention.

Lee, I'm also very partial to IN NAME ONLY, which I reviewed here. Lombard was certainly adept at both comedy and drama.

Best wishes,

6:44 PM  

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