January 4th, 2009

carole lombard 07
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A 'Sacred' Barrymore?

As 1937 wound down, movie audiences had the opportunity to see Carole Lombard in two films at roughly the same time -- "Nothing Sacred" and "True Confession." The latter featured John Barrymore in a supporting role...

...but did you know he could have appeared in the former, too?

At least that was the intent of Ben Hecht, the noted writer who wrote the screenplay for "Nothing Sacred." He and Barrymore were close friends, and he wrote a part for him in the original script.

But it never came to be. Barrymore's alcoholism had made him unreliable and thus anathema to producer David O. Selznick, who didn't want to take any chances with this large-scale Technicolor comedy. Hecht was so angered at Selznick's decision that he walked off the picture, and it was completed by two noted authors themselves, Budd Schulberg and Dorothy Parker. Several others also contributed to the final product, including Selznick, director William Wellman and one of Parker's Algonquin Round Table cronies, George S. Kaufman.

Would Barrymore have played one of the characters we see on screen, or was it completely erased from the final script? That's worth investigating.

A few days after "Nothing Sacred" finished shooting, Lombard began work on "True Confession." It's known she helped get Barrymore a part in the film, as a way of repaying him for helping her reach new cinematic heights in "Twentieth Century" three years before. But one wonders whether Carole was also trying to make up for his not getting work on the Selznick picture.
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