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Twentieth Century

Released May 11, 1934 1h 31m Comedy List
86% Tomatometer 29 Reviews 75% Audience Score 1,000+ Ratings
When down-on-his-luck Broadway impresario Oscar Jaffe (John Barrymore) meets his discovery and former flame, Lily Garland (Carole Lombard), on the glamorous 20th Century Limited train between Chicago and New York, he uses every scheme at his disposal to win the movie star back both professionally and romantically. However, Lily, along with her new beau, George (Ralph Forbes), and Jaffe's rival producer, Max Jacobs (Charles Levison), who hired Lily to star in his latest play, have other plans. Read More Read Less
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Critics Reviews

View All (29) Critics Reviews
Otis Ferguson The New Republic John Barrymore fits [his role] as wholly and smoothly as a banana in a skin; and appropriate metaphors should be devised for Walter Connolly, Carole Lombard and Roscoe Karns. Jan 22, 2024 Full Review Steven D. Greydanus Decent Films Often credited as the first screwball comedy… an acerbic satire of show-business ego and superficiality. Rated: B+ Feb 11, 2006 Full Review Nick Schager Lessons of Darkness A shining example of moviemaking magnificence. Rated: A- Jun 25, 2005 Full Review Mike Massie Gone With The Twins With all the slimy tricks, delusions of grandeur, and high-pitched shouting matches, it's difficult to appreciate even the moments that demonstrate creative commentary on love and art. Rated: 3/10 Aug 1, 2020 Full Review Leslie Combemale Cinema Siren The witty repartee and lightning fast pacing keeps viewers breathlessly entertained. Jul 25, 2019 Full Review Ann Ross Maclean's Magazine A highly operatic duet of temperament, with John Barrymore as a theatrical producer and Carole Lombard as his star actress. Extremely good comedy. Jul 22, 2019 Full Review Read all reviews

Audience Reviews

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Alec B Barrymore and Lombard make for a delightfully insane duo and using the director/actor relationship in this fashion is a great idea. Rated 4.5 out of 5 stars 01/10/24 Full Review Steve D It is more fun for actors than the general public but should be a blast for both. Rated 3.5 out of 5 stars 05/10/23 Full Review CodyZamboni Movie starts off very amusing, and enjoyable when it shows the behind the scenes of producing a Broadway play. But once Lombard and Barrymore get on the title train, things turn increasingly silly and shrill and very noisy. The constant yelling and shrieking got annoying, and movie's fun factor dropped, hence my rating. Rated 3 out of 5 stars 07/27/23 Full Review jrzy78 While I love all the actors and the director but thought the film terribly dated. I found the performances over the top and Barrymore, in particular, was a repulsive character. Just too much screeching and awful people getting away with terrible things. I love screwball comedy but this one was a real disappointment. Rated 2 out of 5 stars 02/22/23 Full Review Audience Member Master filmmaker Howard Hawks' sure hand at outrageous, character-driven farce is what maneuvers this seminal 1934 screwball comedy into its acknowledged status as a film classic. More than anything else here, he appears responsible for the transformation of Carole Lombard's screen persona from uncertain glamour girl to first-class comedy pro, as she vividly portrays Mildred Plotka, a struggling actress nurtured by Oscar Jaffe, an egomaniacal Broadway impresario. Through his Svengali-like techniques, he has changed the former Mildred into Lily Garland and a major star, but his obsessive behavior leads to her departure to Hollywood for film success and his tailspin into a series of stage flops. By chance, they are both on the Twentieth Century en route from Chicago to New York, and the frenetic plot settles into Oscar's excessive attempts to re-sign Lily to another contract. Screenwriters Ben Hecht and Charles MacArthur, already famous for their fast-talking "The Front Page", apply the same kinetic energy to this broadly theatrical farce. Even though not all the comedy bits work (for instance, the rich asylum escapee's placing "Repent" stickers everywhere), the feverish pitch never lets up, and the cast is very game for the shenanigans. Precariously dangling himself at the edge of caricature, John Barrymore is in peak form in a ham-fisted turn as Jaffe. Whether drawing the chalk lines for Lily to follow or repeatedly caught in fake-suicide attempts, Barrymore seems to relish every moment in what was to be his last first-class starring role. On the other hand, Lombard blooms with her performance here, as she matches toe to toe with Barrymore. Their chemistry, which only hints at a romantic relationship, seems to be the prototype for all persistently contentious movie couples thereafter. Familiar character actors Roscoe Karns and Walter Connolly breezily play Jaffe's exasperated assistants. Rated 4 out of 5 stars 02/08/23 Full Review Audience Member Barrymore and Lombard make for a delightfully insane duo and using the director/actor relationship in this fashion is a great idea. Rated 4.5 out of 5 stars 02/13/23 Full Review Read all reviews
Twentieth Century

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Movie Info

Synopsis When down-on-his-luck Broadway impresario Oscar Jaffe (John Barrymore) meets his discovery and former flame, Lily Garland (Carole Lombard), on the glamorous 20th Century Limited train between Chicago and New York, he uses every scheme at his disposal to win the movie star back both professionally and romantically. However, Lily, along with her new beau, George (Ralph Forbes), and Jaffe's rival producer, Max Jacobs (Charles Levison), who hired Lily to star in his latest play, have other plans.
Director
Howard Hawks
Producer
Howard Hawks
Screenwriter
Charles Bruce Millholland, Ben Hecht, Charles MacArthur, Ben Hecht, Charles MacArthur, Gene Fowler
Distributor
Columbia Home Video, Columbia TriStar Home Video, Columbia Pictures
Production Co
Columbia Pictures Corporation
Genre
Comedy
Original Language
English
Release Date (Theaters)
May 11, 1934, Wide
Release Date (Streaming)
Apr 16, 2012
Runtime
1h 31m
Sound Mix
Mono
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