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Twentieth Century
Twentieth Century
Actors: John Barrymore, Carole Lombard, Walter Connolly, Roscoe Karns, Ralph Forbes
Genres: Comedy
UR     2005     1hr 31min

Carole Lombard and John Barrymore star in this all-time classic screwball comedy based on the Charles MacArthur-Ben Hecht Broadway hit and directed by Howard Hawks. It's the story of a maniacal Broadway director (Barrymore...  more »


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Movie Details

Actors: John Barrymore, Carole Lombard, Walter Connolly, Roscoe Karns, Ralph Forbes
Genres: Comedy
Sub-Genres: Classic Comedies
Studio: Sony Pictures
Format: DVD - Black and White,Full Screen - Closed-captioned,Subtitled
DVD Release Date: 02/22/2005
Original Release Date: 05/11/1934
Theatrical Release Date: 05/11/1934
Release Year: 2005
Run Time: 1hr 31min
Screens: Black and White,Full Screen
Number of Discs: 1
SwapaDVD Credits: 1
Total Copies: 0
Members Wishing: 12
MPAA Rating: Unrated
Languages: English, German
Subtitles: Japanese

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Movie Reviews

Great film, sub-par DVD
A. P. Hartel | United States | 03/23/2005
(3 out of 5 stars)

"I see no great need to add to the glowing comments others have already heaped on this film. It really is special, and one of my favorites. And because it is, I was hugely disappointed by the DVD. This transfer is pretty bad, and doesn't look much better than you might get from a public domain film some of the other companies grab hold of and slap onto a really cheaply priced DVD.

This film is one of those treasures, historically important, and just damn good. You'd have thought that SONY (the parent company for Columbia/Tri-Star) would have invested more effort into ensuring a pristine restoration and DVD transfer. The film deserves it. Many of us have waited long enough for the DVD, this is a sham. If this is the best print they could lay their hands on, they should have paid to have someone do a digital restoration on it; but I suspect they could have procurred better elements, and just didn't try. There are no extras on the DVD. Nothing worthwhile, only a few trailers for unrelated films. There are enough Barrymore biographers out there who could have supplied commentary and insight; there are film historians who could have also added some value to this release.

It doesn't speak well of the companies involved that they appear to have tossed this off so casually. They should be ashamed."
The greatest classic comedy no one has seen
Robert Moore | Chicago, IL USA | 05/16/2003
(5 out of 5 stars)

"Of the great screen comedies from the Golden Age of the Hollywood Studio system, few are seen as rarely as TWENTIETH CENTURY. This is tragic for a number of reasons. First, this film is usually considered the first of the Screwball comedies that glorified the thirties and forties. Howard Hawks holds the unusual and unique distinction among the great directors of not only having mastered a huge number of genres but having actually invented several of them. In 1932 he invented the gangster film with his great classic SCARFACE. In 1950, he created the alien Sci-fi film, when he directed (without credit, though the credited director Christian Nyby always acknowledged that Hawks actually directed) THE THING FROM ANOTHER WORLD. He also made significant contributions to a host of other genres, including the detective film (THE BIG SLEEP), the adventure film (TO HAVE AND HAVE NOT), and the Western (RED RIVER). He not only invented the Screwball comedy with TWENTIETH CENTURY in 1934, he went on to direct two of the greatest Screwball comedies ever in BRINGING UP BABY and HIS GIRL FRIDAY. No other director in the history of film had Hawks's gifts as an originator of new types of film or his range as a director.Another problem with this film being shown so rarely is that it keeps us from seeing two of the greatest performers in American cinema, John Barrymore near the end of his star career and Carole Lombard near the beginning of hers. This was one of the very last films Barrymore made before the years of heavy drinking began to catch up with him. After he made this film, his remarkably handsome features began to fade, and for the last few years of his career he specialized in playing comic drunks. This he did exceedingly well, but more because it was the only kind of role left for him to play. But here, in this film, we get the real John Barrymore for one last, great role. Lombard had made a gigantic number of films in the twenties and the early thirties, but it was only with this film that she became an "A List" actress. From this point on, she would be regarded as one of if not the greatest screen comedienne, and would be in some of the finest comedies ever made until her premature death in 1942. The plot is simple: Broadway impresario Oscar Jaffe's (Barrymore) career had been on a long slide since his greatest discovery, Lily Garland, has departed the stage for stardom in Hollywood. They accidentally meet on the Twentieth Century Limited, and he decides play every trick in the book to get her back into his life, both professionally and otherwise. The script is exceedingly witty, and was a reworking of a stage play written by Ben Hecht and Charles Macarthur, whose work Hawks would film again in 1940 in HIS GIRL FRIDAY. The tight, terse, fast-moving dialogue that we associate with Hecht and Macarthur are evident at every point in TWENTIETH CENTURY. Between Hawks's deft direction, Barrymore and Lombard's performances (as well as the work of several crack character actors such as Walter Connolly), and such a superb script, this film was can't-miss from the start.A bit of trivia: Howard Hawks and Carole Lombard were second cousins."
Restoration Needed to make "Twentieth" Shine!
Nix Pix | Windsor, Ontario, Canada | 03/05/2005
(3 out of 5 stars)

""Twentieth Century" (1934) is a brilliant and scathing screwball yarn about a manical Broadway impressario, Oscar Jaffe's (John Barrymore) headstrong attempt to mold a shopgirl, Mildred Plotka (Carole Lombard) into the toast of the Great White Way. A bigger ham than any of his protiges, Oscar's career goes into a sudden tail spin after Mildred, christened Lily Garland, breaks free of his artistic stronghold for a chance to make it big in Hollywood. Now the toast of two coasts and everything in-between, Mildred doesn't need anyone to help her career. Oscar's bitter rejection and professional oblivion seems complete until he chances to meet Lily again, this time on the Twentieth Century Limited. Desperate to resign Mildred, but unwilling to admit that he needs her, the battle of the wills that ensues between these two old rivals is hilarious. The Ben Hecht/Charles MacArthur screenplay pulls out all the stops. As bitter enemies, Barrymore and Lombard are out and out crazy to the point of madcap absurdity. Howard Hawk's spirited direction in confined spaces draws upon the humanity of the piece and comes up a real winner. The same can't be said for Columbia's lack luster DVD transfer. The black and white image is very unstable. Blacks are sometimes deep, but often less than. Whites are not very clean. There is a considerable amount of film grain throughout. The contrast levels fluctuate as well. Often looking quite dirty and riddled with age related artifacts, the comedic sheen of "Twentieth Century" leaves something to be desired. The audio is mono but in about as good a condition as the visual elements of the film. Occasionally a pop and hiss can be heard under the arch of great performances which is a genuine shame. The DVD comes with an obtrusive string of trailers for other films and Japanese subtitle option - whatever! Bottom line: the film is golden. The transfer is tin. Let the buyer beware before making their purchase decision."
John Barrymore As...O.J.?
El Kabong | 08/25/2001
(5 out of 5 stars)

"Nobody gets decapitated, however, as the acronym here stands for Oscar Jaffe. Nearly 70 years after its premiere, TWENTIETH remains a perfect comedy and a wonderful, visually sumptuous movie. Director Howard Hawks' hand is evident, though subtly, in the many ingenious setups and camera movements. For the most part he's wisely content to let the play be the thing, blessed as he was with a brilliantly funny property and cast. You all know about Barrymore's ego-monster producer and Lombard as his diva-protege (she's scrumptious to look at throughout, and funny besides), but not enough has been written in praise of the crack support of perpetually-soused Roscoe Karns, Walter Connolly (for once playing something besides a millionaire or a city-room editor), Charles Lane and a particularly unforgettable Etienne Girardot. Of course, Barrymore outshines them all, with his 'iron-door' pronunciamentos, his acting out every role in the antebellum play he's staging, and even his deliberate (and very funny) enunciation of the name 'Max Mandelbaum'. They don't make 'em like this any more (actually, they didn't often make 'em this well back then, either). People just don't talk this fast in movies anymore, nor do comedies hurtle along at such a clip, despite all the fractured MTV-style editing techniques giving the illusion of speed & motion. And when they try to adopt this screwball style nowadays, it simply feels - and plays - false. But never mind all that. Why are you reading this when you could be watching the video??"