Twentieth Century (Hawks, 1934)

This isn’t one of the great Hawks films, even though some major critics like Jonathan Rosenbaum would disagree with me. It’s about “the greatest ham of all time” as Hawks said himself, and Twentieth Century is one over the top interlude after the other. It’s funny, even hilarious at times, and the running gags work wonderfully (the lunatic on the train is pure genious). Barrymore and Lombard are perfect together and exemplify a kind of mania seeped in artisitc collaboration. The supporting players like Roscoe Karns and Walter Connoly shine bright, giving slight glimmers of relief in between battles of prose between the two stars. Twentieth Centry has the charm of other Hawks films, it just lacks the classy ease and timeless quality of his comedic masterpieces, Gentlemen Prefer Blondes and Bringing Up Baby. One can only eat so much ham, even if it’s served on a golden platter by one of America’s finest filmmakers.

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