Nothing Sacred (1937)
Carole Lombard is one of my favorite movie stars from my favorite movie era, Hollywood’s golden age of the 1930s and 40s. Early in her career, because she was so beautiful, she starred as the leading lady in many melodramas, which Hollywood produced by the same assembly line methods perfected by Henry Ford. In mid 1930s she starred in some very good comedies, and she was probably the best comedic actress of the still young sound era. Carole Lombard was the perfect comedic hero. She was dizzy and absurd, pouty and childish, in over her head and head over her heels. Nobody did it better is an understatement; nobody did it half as good. In 1942 she had just made To Be or Not to Be, one of the greatest comedies of all time, and was at the very top of her game when she flew to Indiana for a war bond rally. The flight back to California crashed in Nevada and the world lost its best comedienne. Carole Lombard was 33 years old when she died.
It’s one of the damnedest shames I can think of, and it only makes me treasure Carole Lombard all the more. She is so great, and her comedies are pure gold. No matter how good the script is, or who starred opposite her, Carole Lombard is always the highlight. I cannot choose my favorite of her movies, but one of the best is 1937’s technicolor sensation Nothing Sacred.
If you don’t like Carole Lombard in a fireman’s hat, you don’t like anything.
The movie is screwball zaniness set in New York City and it’s full of the 1930s archetypes I love. Carole Lombard is Hazel Flagg and Frederic March is newspaper man Wally Cook. I don’t want to summarize the plot so I’ll just make a little list of things in the movie: country girl faking sick (radium poisoning!) to get trip out of her sleepy small town and into New York, newspaper man who breaks the story of very picturesque, very doomed young beauty saying farewell to the world and NYC, a fake Sultan, a combustible newspaper editor, a wrestling match, hotel suite fisticuffs, a doctor who drinks more than his share, even the Wicked Witch of the West (the actress, anyway). All these are great, but really, the best thing Nothing Sacred has is Carole Lombard. And in color! My goodness she’s just too lovely.
The funniest, prettiest lady in the world
Will there ever be another like her? Of course not. Frankly, my head’s spinning over the fact that there was even one Carole Lombard. Thank goodness.