Release Year: 1937
Director: William A. Wellman
Writers: Ben Hecht (screenplay), James Street (suggested by his 1937 short story “A Letter to the Editor”)
Starring: Carole Lombard, Fredric March, Charles Winniger, Walter Connolly, Sig Ruman, Frank Fay, Troy Brown, Sr., Maxie Rosenbloom, Margaret Hamilton, Olin Howland
Moviegeek Sunday Classic #306, week 18 2020
Hazel Flagg (Carole Lombard), an eccentric young woman living in a small town discovers that she does not suffer from radium poisoning as previously assumed. Bur when she meets a young New York journalist eager to yell her stories and show the “poor dying woman” around New York City, she decides to feign being terminally ill.
This short and sharply written satire of tabloid journalism holds the distinction of being the first screwball comedy to be filmed in technicolour. The director, William A. Wellman had just made the highly succesful A Star Is Born (1937) and Nothing Sacred stars two of the most famous actor of the period; Carole Lombard (My Man Godfrey, 1936) who was a wel-known both for her dramatic roles, but especially for her roles in the highly popular niche genre, screwball comedy, and versatile Fredric March (Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, 1931) whose career peeked in the 1930s and 1940s. Lombard is adorable as the slightly eccentric young girl who conspires with the local doctor, played by Charles Winniger (Show Boat, 1936), so she can get the trip to New York City she has always dreamed of. March’s journalist, Wally, on the other hand, has already made one big mistake and has to suceed with this story if he wants to keep his job. And so the stage is set for cat and mouse game withthe truth, which is further complicated as the public falls in love with this young woman, whom they expect to die soon, and Hazel and Wally fall in love with each other. The film is short, at times wacky, and occasionally a sharp and witty commentary on the tabloid press and the absurdity of celebrity and in that regard as relevant now as then. A funny little srewball film, although it does seem to be a bit too busy sometimes. A 15 minute longer running time wouldn’t have hurt it at all. Recommended, especially to fans of screwball comedy.
The only technicolor film Carole Lombard starred in and one of her favourite of the films she made.
Carole Lombard’s role of Hazel Flagg was originally intended for Janet Gaynor who had just co-starred with Fredric March in the highly succesful A Star is Born (1937).
The movie running time of 77 minutes is so short that by contemporary standards it would not qualify as a feature film. The minimum running required today is 80 minutes.