Watch Twentieth Century
- 1 hr 31 min
Twentieth Century is a 1934 American screwball comedy film directed by Howard Hawks and starring John Barrymore, Carole Lombard, and Walter Connolly. The film is loosely based on a play by Ben Hecht and Charles MacArthur. The movie centers around egomaniacal Broadway producer Oscar Jaffe (Barrymore) and his former protege-turned-enemy, the dazzling actress Lily Garland (Lombard). Jaffe discovers Lily as an unknown chorus girl and makes her a star, but their relationship soon sours and Lily leaves Jaffe's tutelage to become a Hollywood sensation. Years later, on board the luxury train from Chicago to New York's Twentieth Century Limited, Jaffe learns that Lily is also a passenger. Desperate to regain her as his star and resume his control over her, Jaffe plots to convince Lily to return to Broadway. Through a series of wild hijinks and comedic misadventures on the train, Jaffe tries to win Lily over and reignite their professional partnership. Along the way, Jaffe's desperation leads him to hire a variety of eccentric characters to help win Lily back, including a fake doctor and a troupe of acrobatic performers. Meanwhile, Lily is pursued by a wealthy socialite named George Smith (Connolly), who is also on board the train. The film is a showcase of Barrymore's considerable talents as a theatrical performer, and he delivers a characteristically larger-than-life performance as Jaffe. Lombard shines as the witty and independent Lily, and the chemistry between the two leads is electric. Connolly provides excellent comic relief as the hapless George, and the supporting cast of character actors adds to the film's zany energy. Twentieth Century is noteworthy for its fast-paced and highly stylized direction by Hawks, who was one of the most innovative filmmakers of the time. The film's visual aesthetic is marked by bold lighting, dynamic camera angles, and rapid-fire dialogue that still feels fresh and modern. The screenplay, written by Hecht and MacArthur, is clever, tongue-in-cheek, and full of references to the world of theater and Hollywood. The film is also notable for its frank treatment of sexuality and relationships, which was unusual for films of the era. Overall, Twentieth Century is a classic screwball comedy that is full of energy, wit, and charm. It is a must-see for fans of classic Hollywood and lovers of romantic comedies.