Rent Twentieth Century (1934)

3.6 of 5 from 99 ratings
1h 31min
Rent Twentieth Century (aka 20th Century) Online DVD & Blu-ray Rental
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The story of a maniacal Broadway director Oscar Jaffe (John Barrymore) who transforms shop girl (Carole Lombard) from a talented amateur to a smashing Great White Way success adored by public and press.
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Howard Hawks
Charles Bruce Millholland, Ben Hecht, Charles MacArthur, Preston Sturges, Gene Fowler
20th Century
Classics, Comedy, Romance
10 Films to Watch if You Like To Be or Not to Be, Films to Watch If You Like..., The Instant Expert's Guide, The Instant Expert's Guide to Howard Hawks
Release Date:
Not released
Run Time:
91 minutes
English Dolby Digital 1.0
English, Japanese
DVD Regions:
Region 1
Aspect Ratio:
Full Screen 1.33:1 / 4:3
B & W
Release Date:
Run Time:
91 minutes
English LPCM Mono
English Hard of Hearing
Aspect Ratio:
Full Screen 1.37:1
B & W
BLU-RAY Regions:
  • Audio commentary with film critic and writer Farran Smith Nehme (2021)
  • Stars in Her Eyes (2021, 17 mins): academic Lucy Bolton discusses the film career of actor Carole Lombard
  • Peter Bogdanovich Recommends 'Twentieth Century' (1989, 5 mins): appreciation by the acclaimed filmmaker
  • Super 8 version: cut-down home cinema presentation
  • The Campbell Playhouse: 'Twentieth Century' (1939, 57 mins): radio adaptation starring Orson Welles and Elissa Landi
  • Austin Film Society trailer (2016)
  • Image gallery: on-set and promotional photography
  • World Premiere on Blu-ray

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Reviews (3) of Twentieth Century

Proto-Screwball. - Twentieth Century review by Steve

Spoiler Alert

This early Howard Hawks comedy is a landmark of the emerging screwball style of the early '30s, with the fast talking dames, the duped, disorientated male, the crazy, improbable consequences, and the slapstick visual gags- all set in contemporary urban America.  

John Barrymore plays a Broadway producer who discovers a smalltown wannabe (Carole Lombard) and turns her into a stage sensation. Enraged by her svengali's constant egotistical dominion, she flees to Hollywood and becomes a triumph, while he slumps into debt. He must win her back while they return to New York by train.  

Barrymore is just hilarious, overacting brilliantly, with his melodramatic catchphrases, like 'I lower the iron door' for when he sacks someone, which is often. Lombard gets buffeted a little in the whirlwind of his performance, but she puts up a fight in a role that would make her a big star (the final irony). The support cast doesn't stand a chance.  

It is very, very funny.  It isn't all that emotionally nourishing. But as pure comedy, it is a triumph. Preston Sturges did some work on this and his hand is very evident. It's so much fun watching Carole transform from a timid novice to an egomaniac, who almost capable of going into combat with the great impresario.

3 out of 4 members found this review helpful.

Enjoyably insane - Twentieth Century review by MS

Spoiler Alert

John Barrymore is hilarious as the megalomaniac theatre director. The best bits are the most bonkers -- all the scenes from the train station disguise on. I especially enjoyed his depiction of his proposed Mary Magdelene movie -- "she'll be covered in emeralds!" "There will be camels! Elephants! Sand!" (or words to that effect).

The rest of the cast is good, too, but he is brilliant.

3 out of 4 members found this review helpful.

Lonesome whistles - Twentieth Century review by CH

Spoiler Alert

Much of what happens in Twentieth Century (1934) takes place aboard the eponymous train between Chicago and New York. Apart from providing a timescale in which pell-mell events take place this does not make it exactly a train movie. Despite a few exterior shots against a fast landscape, and the presence of some other passengers including a fraudster, the carriages are so lavish that it might almost be taking place in a series of rooms.

The time spent aboard the train contrasts with the three years traversed by the opening of a film which has seen John Barrymore lift Carole Lombard from advertising-model obscurity to a sensation upon the Broadway stage - something which has also led to their becoming lovers. Such is his overbearing manner that she has fled both bed and stage for Hollywood success, and he has gone into a decline.

Her chancing to be aboard the train brings him the chance to woo her back. From the play by Ben Hecht and Charles MacArthur, it is sometimes called the first screwball. If not as freewheeling as later films, including those also directed by Howard Hawks, it has the requisite madcap quality to carry it across quieter moments - and indeed the raucous ones to which both stars are given.

1 out of 1 members found this review helpful.

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