Nothing Sacred

Director: William A. Wellman
Screenwriters: Ben Hecht, James H. Street

Institute History

  • 1996 Sundance Film Festival


Wellman harbored particular affection for lowlifes, frauds, and outsiders so it’s not surprising he felt an affinity for Ben Hecht’s cynical comedy about the phony glitter and self-serving shenanigans that constitute daily life in New York City. Although Nothing Sacred is usually described as a screwball comedy because of its crackling dialogue and fast pace, its satiric eye and penetrating insight create a vision both deeper and darker.

Carole Lombard plays Hazel Flagg, a young Vermont woman dying of radium poisoning who is whisked off to New York for a final, heart-wrenching fling by savvy newspaperman Wallace Cook (Fredric March, fresh from his triumph in A Star Is Born). It’s an effort to jump-start his stalled career and sell papers for his curmudgeon of an editor (Walter Connolly). The twist is that Hazel isn’t dying at all, and she knows it—she’s as much a fake as the rest of them, but at least she feels badly about it. The fourth member of this unscrupulous quartet is Hazel’s doctor (Charles Winninger), who comes along for the free ride. Besides the withering wit of its clever lines, Nothing Sacred, recently restored in luminous technicolor, offers a rare glimpse of one of Hollywood’s most madcap and charming comediennes at her best. Lombard had a gift for making us laugh and care at the same time, and Nothing Sacred demonstrates it to perfection.

— Barbara Bannon

Screening Details

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