Public Domain Theater: Nothing Sacred (& “Disorder in the Court”)

Welcome to Public Domain Theater, your home for the wonderful world of films that have (in the United States, at least) fallen into the public domain, and are free for everyone to see!

This month, we are delighted to present to you a Technicolor comedy starring the irrepressible Carole Lombard! It deals with a reporter who tries to rekindle his dying career with a human interest piece on a Radium Girl, one of the women who got fatal radium poisoning from working in watch factories, a real life scandal that was big news in the 1920’s and 30’s. There’s just one problem: the particular Radium Girl he’s chosen for his story, Hazel Flagg, isn’t dying. She found out she’d been misdiagnosed minutes before meeting him.

But there are no simple misunderstandings in comedies, of course. When Hazel learns this reporter doesn’t want to write just one article on her, but to turn her into a media sensation, taking her on an all-expense paid trip to New York City, where everyone will celebrate and fawn over her for being so “brave” in the face of adversity? That’s an opportunity too good to ruin by telling the truth.

What follows is half-screwball comedy and half-media satire, skewering the phenomenon of city-wide performative sympathy, while also charting a love story between our two leads, and all with a breathless comedic pace. A true gem of old school Hollywood comedies if there ever was one.

Now, normally here on Public Domain Theater, we’d pair this feature film with an animated short, but we’re doing something a little different this month. Before watching Nothing Sacred, we instead urge you to check out a short film that, while shot in live action, is every bit as nutty, goofy, and off-the-wall as most any cartoon you can find. That’s because this short features no one less than those Titans of slapstick, the Three Stooges, in their celebrated picture “Disorder in the Court”!

So whether you want some witty repartee, clownish buffoonery, or acid-barbed social satire, come on down to Public Domain Theater for all the laughs your funny bone can handle!

Opening Cartoon Short:

Feature Presentation: