- Acting of Lead Performers
- Acting of Supporting Cast
- Music Score
- Title Sequence
- Historical Importance
- Would You Recommend?
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I'd like to add that this was Hawks' first screwball comedy, a genre he owned just as surely as Ford owned the Western and Hitch the suspense picture. His Girl Friday and Bringing Up Baby may have been more perfect works, but Twentieth Century is still a masterpiece. By the same token, Lombard was a rookie when she made this picture. She went on to became a total pro. This film is a marvellous achievement for both, although Barrymore walks away with it..
Hawks/Barrymore comic masterpiece
I found the shouting and the overacting only intermittently too much. It reminded me of Sturges' Unfaithfully Yours whose manic pace and tone take getting used to, but once you do, you buy completely into it. Generally, the effects here are right on target and highly amusing. Barrymore's is one of the great comic performances. I loved his attempt to sell Lombard on the Passion Play, including his imitation of a camel. Loved his tossing of black paint on Lombard's image while shouting "anathema, oblivion." Loved the line about tossing a ruby into a platter of lard. Writers then had wit and used language that lived.
- kevin sellers
Intermittently amusing film that is done in by over acting. Not only is it not the greatest Hollywood screwball comedy, it's not even Hawks' greatest screwball comedy. That honor goes to "Bringing Up Baby," featuring two actors who know when to tone it down and let the comedy happen, rather than try to force it by yelling and chewing the scenery a la Barrymore/Lombard. Goddamn movie gives you a headache. Give it a B minus for the zingers in Hecht and McArthur's screenplay.
Hail Howard Hawks !
- Will Fox
As any serious scholar or student of the studio system in Hollywood's heyday knows, Howard Hawks is in the top 3, of the most successful directors. Intelligent people worldwide are still fascinated by John Ford's westerns. Alfred Hitchcock's suspense-filled mysteries intrigue five-generations of the intelligencia. Rivaling these two aces, is the ace of aces among world-class film directors, Howard Hawks. He created more 4-star films (the highest of ratings among most critics) in many more genres than any other director in the history of film. Leonard Maltin rates this film in his top class, "Four Stars." The two superstars at their peak, thanks to Hawk's superb directorial timing in "The 20th Century," as delightfully dueling Prima donnas, consider his hits: "A Girl in Every Port" (1928), "The Dawn Patrol" (1930), "The Crowd Roars" and "Scarface" (1932), "20th Century," "Barbary Coast," "Bringing Up Baby," "Only Angels Have Wings," "His Girl Friday," "Sergeant York," "Ball of Fire," "Corvette K -255,", "To Have And Have Not," "The Big Sleep" (1946), "Red River" (1948), "A Star Is Born," "I Was A Male War Bride," "The Thing From Another World," "The Big Sky," "Monkey Business," "Gentle Prefer Blondes," "Rio Bravo" (1959), and "Hatari" (1962). Twenty-three successes. Who else compares to this heroic champion, across so many different genres, among film directors?
Not Sure About It
I've tried many times to watch the entire movie but I can't. The print is terrible. Worse yet is the screeching and shouting by the actors. I like Barrymore though he can over act too often, especially by today's standards. Carole Lombard was a brilliant actress.But why do they overplay their parts and scream? I know it's a screwball comedy but there's no subtlety or fun in this movie.I can think of better comedies to view such as The Awful Truth and The Lady Eve.
An exceptional screwball comedy. Drama-diva Lombard and the equally dramatic and more egotistical Barrymore bicker about them working together again. Lengthy establishing opening is slow at the beginning, but the remainder of the film on the train is funny and worth the wait. Great performances, hilarious dialogue match with Hawks' direction. I give it a 4.5/5.
Shout, scream and overact
I found this film almost unwatchable because of the acting. Barrymore and Lombard literally shout at each other in every scene. It seemed they were trying to see who was loudest and most animated. The supporting actors were just as bad trying to keep pace with the stars. I blame Hawks for letting this production get overwrought. Several years later Hawks came back to the same type of quick paced dialog with " His Girl Friday" and succeeded beautifully with the great Grant and Russell- far superior performers.
Good Early Morning Film To Watch
Liked it,Carole a little too flaky,but loved Barrymore,the ham
Brilliant. John Barrymore at his finest.
This is, hands down, one of the most amusing films of ALL time. There are so many laugh-out-loud moments---all due to the manic gyrations and rantings of Oscar Jaffe ("I clo-o-ose the Iron Door on you!"). What a shame that a man with this calibre of talent should come to such an inauspicious end. It truly makes me sad. But this film is among the greatest pieces of comedy and should be hailed as so. I wish people would remember Barrymore for his beauty and amazing talent, than the 'caricature' he was relegated to be near the end. ****On another note----a poster below (Jewish lady, and possibly seeing anti-semitism everywhere, I guess, because of the turbulent time in Europe this film was made) claims their is a Nazi swastika around the 36 minute mark. It's just past 37 minutes, and it's the Buddhist/Sanskrit/Tibetan (etc. etc. etc.) symbol of auspiciousness and good fortune/luck. It's even used in Kabbalah! The swastika, which has been around for millennia, mind you, is either right or left facing, and always SQUARE. The Nazi symbol for the National Socialist party that was adopted in 1920 is ALWAYS right facing, and ALWAYS at a 45-degree angle!! Please learn the difference, people! A lot of misunderstanding could be avoided!Also, for the record, Americans and the Western world really had no clue about Nazism until 'The Mortal Storm' (a tiny taste) came out in '39...or the early 40's. No one was aware of the true horrors, and therefore that prop could not be an attack on Jews....nor could the scene she describes with the character Max Jacobs/Mendelbaum....most all of Hollywood and Broadway were owned/run/written/produced/etc. by people of the Jewish faith in those years; there is nothing derogatory there./end rant
- Mark Sutch
Barrymore is, no pun intended, Oscar-worthy, and Lombard matches him note for note. It's astounding and sad that John Barrymore was capable of giving this performance and just a few years later was parodying himself and relying solely on cue cards. Yes, there's a lot of yelling, and yes, we're a little glad when we take our leave of these two, but it's a brilliant portrait of the old school diva and Belasco-like producer-egomaniac-sociopath. I love the still handsome, magnetic figure Barrymore cuts, and he swings for the fences. It's his comedic "Hamlet" and absolutely worth seeing. How terrible it is that he couldn't keep it together enough to truly be this strong again. There's so much wit and sardonic dialogue flying that the crew probably had to duck. Everyone in the cast is superb, and this is one of my favorite gems of that era.
Nazi swastika !
- Hannah B Fischthal
Interspersed with Barrymore's great comic scenes are very disturbing anti-semitic images. About 36 minutes into the film, you can see a Nazi swastika on the right-hand side for quite a few seconds. Add that to the comment made just before it that Max Jacobs used to be Max Mandelbaum. Jacobs is the only one having lots of money. In his last scene, he has a profile that shows a grotesquely huge nose, similar to "Jewish noses" used in Nazi propaganda films. Note the film was made in 1934, when Hitler was in power.
"O" My--it's The Final Irony
Hawk's managed to cram wit, charm, and warmth into this rolling 90 minute gem. Lombard & Barrymore are great together and make a surprisingly convincing team. (Their confrontation & his fake suicide threat scene is what clinches this whole movie for me. So good!) Walter Connolly also adds another great comedic element. And all those O's! Oscar, Oliver, Owen...and so many more...O I love it!