Cleveland International Film Festival } March 22 – April 1, 2023 } Playhouse Square


Year: 1934
Country: United States
Run Time: 93 minutes


TWENTIETH CENTURY, listed by critic Andrew Sarris as the best American film of 1934, is a fast-paced comedy about the theatrical world, and in particular the love-hate relationship between an egomaniacal producer, Oscar Jaffe (John Barrymore), and his leading lady, Lily Garland (Carole Lombard). Jaffe's neurotic possessiveness, selfishness and false gentleness almost drive Lily insane, and she leaves him to become a Hollywood star. Some time later, they meet accidently on the Twentieth Century Express. After hilarious encounters, fights, histrionics and a phony suicide, Jaffe tricks Lily into signing a new contract. At the end, they are still at each other's throats, and they begin to rehearse a new play.

Like other "screwball" comedies of the '30s, this film is built on wisecracks, nasty and brutal dialogue and outrageous characterizations. But the directing by Howard Hawks places TWENTIETH CENTURY ahead of its time. Hawks never employs obvious devices; he relies on a subtle, precise use gesture, camera placement and editing which makes even long dialogue scenes cinematic. The witty script is enhanced by Hawks' innovation of overlapping dialogue: The characters constantly interrupt each other, creating a wonderful chaos. (Mac.)

Ben Hecht and Charles MacArthur, based on their play

Howard Hawks

Joseph August

Gene Havlick

Principal Cast
John Barrymore, Carole Lombard, Walter Connolly, Roscoe Karns

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