Archive for October 22nd, 2008

October 22, 2008

>Twentieth Century (1934)


A few posts ago I wrote about how I wanted to discover Carole Lombard, and now I had a chance to do so, while watching Howard Hawks’ Twentieth Century in the movies. Carole has a great comic timing and looks stunning from the beggining to the end, first as a self-conscious shop girl who dreams of becoming a stage actress, and at last, an accomplished Hollywood star (I love how she’s wearing trousers and flats in a certain moment). Although she’s quite funny, it’s John Barrymore who steals the show in a hilarious performance as Oscar Jaffe, an idiosyncratic Broadway director who discovers Mildred Plotka (Lombard) and turns her into the glamorous and successful stage diva Lily Garland. Jaffe does not only control every step Lily gives on stage literally, he also controls her personal life, where she goes and who she meets, in short, she doesn’t know freedom. One day she gets tired and leaves to Hollywood, damaging Jaffe’s career, but he won’t miss a chance to persuade her to come back when he realizes they’re on the same Twentieth Century train on their way back to New York. But this is a hard task! Lily doesn’t long to see her former partner and would never agree to sign a contract that would expose herself to his demands once again.

I don’t know if the fact the acting in the film is quite theatrical has anything to do with silent movies being not so far behind, since it could have been done on purpose due to Jaffe’s personality (his life and career has no boards). I find it quite amusing.