Nothing Sacred is a 1937 film starring Carole Lombard and Frederic March.
Wally Cook, played by Frederic March, is a hotshot report who, after falling for a hoax, is keen to redeem himself in the eyes of his editor Oliver Stone. He pounces on the story of Hazel Flagg of Warsaw, Vermont, who is reportedly dying from radium poisoning caused by her work at a watch factory and travels to New England to meet her. Meanwhile Hazel finds out that she has been misdiagnosed leaving her with mixed emotions – she is happy not to be dying but was planning on using the money paid to her by the factory to travel to New York. When Wally cook arrives in town and asks her to travel to New York with him she realises her dreams still can come true – as long as he doesn’t find out the truth.
A smart satire where everyone’s primary motive is self-interest and cashing in on the “dying” woman and is a serious commentary on the influence of the news media and the nature of fame. Hazel Flagg symbolizes the ability of a single person to dupe and manipulate the media in order to achieve recognition, and Wally Cook is an example of the exceptional lengths to which a newspaperman will go to get a story.
This film was considered a showcase for two things: Technicolor and Carole Lombard and indeed was her only film in Technicolor.
For those of us interested in the ways in which radium is used in a cultural context this is a fascinating movie as it contains lots of descriptions of the deadly nature of radium. The full movie is available on YouTube and you can find the following lines at the stated times. Watch the movie here
07:35 “Poor little working girl. Doomed to death for radium poisoning.”
07:51 “What does she feel? What does she think? Radium eating away at her bones.”
16:56 “That first diagnosis I made was a mistake. I got so that I was seeing radium poisoning everywhere.”
21:32 “I ‘m not coming to New York to play Guinea pig for a lot of scientists. Everyone knows that radium poisoning is incurable so why waste any time?