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17 of 17 people found the following review helpful
on 28 October 2001
After a slightly slow start, this makes you laugh as much as any film in its genre.
Carole Lombard, at the height of her quickfire-comedic powers,as hicksville wannabe groomed for stardom by Broadway tyrant John Barrymore dominate a fast moving crazy-comedy classic.
Barrymore reminds us how he might really once have been Broadway's greatest Hamlet with a splendidly controlled 'over the top' performance as Oscar Jaffe, Broadway impresario, allegedly based on Jed Leland, as were Olivier's Richard III and Disney's Big Bad Wolf.
A roster of familiar faces from other 30's/40's comedies complement a splendid cast, as well as the best stock situations you expect from these films.
Barely room to laugh, especially if you know theater types.
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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
on 29 April 2007
This is one of the very best films of its type, a marvellous comedy graced by a typically brilliant and unselfish performance by Carole Lombard (notice how she always manages to bring out the best in her co-stars), and featuring a script by one of the most brilliant screenwriters of comedy to have worked in Hollywood, Ben Hecht, now sadly rather forgotten except as the co-author of "The Front Page". If you enjoy his verbal invention and unique American style of high comedy, a sort of Oscar Wilde meets Damon Runyan, check out "Nothing Sacred" which again features the wonderful Carole Lombard. Absolute gems. These films deserve to be much more widely appreciated.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
HALL OF FAMEon 9 August 2007
"Now don't be nervous, child," says impresario Oscar Jaffe (John Barrymore) during rehearsals to Mildred Plotka (Carole Lombard), a New Jersey shopgirl he's just renamed Lily Garland and thrust into the starring role of Mary Jo Calhoun in Heart of Kentucky. "You're not Lily Garland anymore. You're little Mary Jo Calhoun. The scent of jasmine is floating through the open window of a summer evening. You've just kissed your lover goodnight. You're full of...vibrations."

Lily Garland becomes a star. She and Jaffe have three hits in three years. Although Jaffe is drawn to shapely legs and mirrors, he and Lily become lovers. Then Jaffe makes the mistake one day of tapping her phone to make sure she doesn't stray. Before you can say "ham" Lily is in revolt and on her way to Hollywood by herself. She becomes a huge film star. And Oscar? It's flop after flop without Lily...until by chance they find themselves in adjoining staterooms on the Twentieth Century traveling from Chicago to New York. Can Oscar convince (or trick) Lily into signing a contract with him? Can Lily forgive Oscar? Will the "Repent for the time is at hand" stickers ever come off Oliver Webb's derby? Will Jaffe find the camels, the elephants, the sand for his Obermangau smash he's planning to have Lily star in as Mary Magdalene? Was there ever a faster, funnier and hammier screwball comedy than Twentieth Century?

John Barrymore was a great actor. He also could be a great ham. The two come together here in his amazingly funny, ripe melodramatic performance. He pulls out all stops, clutching his heart, staggering against a door, even picking his nose. When he lowers his eyebrows and glares, it's 100 per cent Smithfield. The screenplay by Ben Hecht and Charles MacArthur gives him some great, self-involved dialogue. Catching Lily kissing her fiance, he dramatically roars at her, "This is the final irony -- mousing around with boys after Oscar Jaffe!" Carole Lombard just about matches him toe to toe. The end of the movie, by the way, is as amusing as the start.

Key elements in the success of the movie are the character parts: Walter Connolly as Oliver Webb, Jaffe's business manager, always being fired, always making some terrible misjudgment; Roscoe Karnes as Owen O'Malley, Jaffe's press agent, wise-cracking and drunk; Etienne Girardot as an elderly religious zealot plastering repent stickers on windows, hats and people's backs, and writing bum checks. Howard Hawks directs with a fast and furious hand. Everything keeps moving, dialogue overlaps, nothing seems stage-bound even though half the movie takes place basically in one of two train staterooms.

This movie is over 70 years old and still plays as one of the best comedies Hollywood ever produced. Barrymore's hamminess is skilled acting. Lombard is gorgeous and gets away with just about as much ham as Barrymore. They're both just inches from over the top and they're funny, funny, funny.

The DVD picture looks just fine, especially considering the age of the movie.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 1 December 2011
i have to confess that i didn't enjoy "twentieth century" as much as i had hoped as the storyline was a bit difficult to follow sometimes and the scene on the moving train seemed interminable.
it is john barrymore that makes the film worth the effort. although ill health was beginning to take its toll on the actor, he still had enough energy to rattle off the dialogue at the rate he did! the way he displays expressions and emotions of anger, joy, sly humour and sadness are achieved almost effortlessly. it just shows what a formidable actor he was back in his glory days in the theatre.
carole lombard is o.k as the talented amateur actress who makes good but her constant screaming and moaning tend to become rather tiresome.
a flawed film to be sure but one man carries it through.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on 4 March 2013
It's so full of lines that some must be funny and even if they're not all hilarious, the performances themselves seem to make them seem as though they are. John Barrymore is at his scenery-chewing best full of mad theatrical gestures and enormous energy; Carole Lombard is all high-pitched beautiful indignation and devotion at the same time in any number of gorgeous gowns. Crazy oddballs having a great time. How the mainstream cinema has declined into glibness, filthy violence and sentimental mediocrity.
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on 1 November 2013
I couldn't stop laughing. This is a wonderful comedy. It doesn't disappoint. It's amazing. If you're into the classic Hollywood-era - don't hesitate to watch it!
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on 5 July 2015
Gift for husband. Loved it. Arrived on time.
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on 2 June 2015
Very pleased
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on 30 September 2015
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