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Radium Poisoning Nothing Sacred Part 1

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Uploaded on Mar 22, 2010

These two clips, Part 1 and 2 provide a short OSH version of the 1937 Hollywood film, Nothing Sacred, produced by David O. Selznick and available at the Internet Archive. In this comedy, a hotshot newspaper reporter Wallace Cook (Fredric March) tries to get in the good graces of his boss, Oliver Stone (Walter Connolly) by exploiting the "imminent" death from radium poising of an ailing young woman, Hazel Flagg (Carole Lombard). She works at a Vermont watch factory. By way of newsprint the doomed young lady becomes the toast of New York City until her health situation is revealed as a hoax. Radium poisoning was a real occupational disease that was identified in the 1920s and was still a problem in the 1930s. The dial painting industry got its start during World War I, two decades after the discovery of radium by Marie and Pierre Curie in 1898. It filled a government demand for watches and instruments with luminous dials and faces so military men in the trenches could read them without turning on a light or lantern and giving away their position. After the war, the luminous watch faces and hands became a fashion fad and kept the industry going and the dialpainting executives prosperous into the Roaring Twenties. The work was mostly done by young women and some, unlike Hazel Flagg, did get radium poisoning and some of them did die. By 1924 news that four employees of the U.S. Radium Corporation had died of necrosis of the jaw--a rare degenerative disease--reached the Board of Health of Orange County, New Jersey. Eight other women were seriously ill, and local dentists were reporting still more cases. For more on the tragic story of radium and watch dial painters, go to http://www.dailykos.com/story/2009/3/... . Several excellent historical accounts of this tragedy have also been publish in the past decade. The first screwball comedy filmed in color, Nothing Sacred also represents the first use in a color film of process effects, montage and rear screen projection. Backgrounds for the rear projection were filmed on the streets of New York. Paramount Pictures and other studios refined this technique in their subsequent color features. Ben Hecht is credited with writing the screenplay in two weeks on a train. He adapted the story "Letter to the Editor" by James H. Street. In the early fifties, a musical version of Nothing Sacred called Hazel Flagg played on Broadway. In 1954 it was turned into the film Living It Up, with Jerry Lewis taking over Lombard's role and Dean Martin as the drinking doc. Janet Leigh became Wally Cook, and fell in love with Dean instead of Jerry.

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