Broadway director Oscar Jaffe (John Barrymore) is a bigger ham than most actors, but through sheer drive and talent he is able to build a successful career. When one of his discoveries, Lily Garland (Carole Lombard), rises to stardom and heeds the call of Hollywood, Oscar begins a career slide. He hits the skids and seems on his way out, until he chances to meet Lily again, on a train ride aboard the Twentieth Century Limited. Oscar pulls out all the stops to re-sign his former star, but it's a battle... because Lily, who is as temperamental as Oscar is, wants to have nothing to do with her former mentor. Written by
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Nobody gets decapitated, however, as the acronym here stands for Oscar Jaffe. 66 years on, TWENTIETH remains a perfect comedy and a wonderful movie. Howard Hawks' hand is evident, though subtly, in the many ingenious setups and camera movements. Wisely, for the most part he's content to let the play be the thing, blessed as he was with a brilliantly funny property and cast. You all know about Barrymore's ego-monster producer and Lombard as his diva-protege, but not enough has been written in praise of the crack support of Roscoe Karns, Walter Connolly, Charles Lane and unforgettable Etienne Girardot. Of course, Barrymore outshines them all, with his 'iron-door' pronunciamentos, his acting out every role in the antebellum play he's staging, and even his unforgettable enunciation of the name 'Max Mandelbaum'. They don't make 'em like this any more, but the hard fact is they didn't often make 'em like this back then, either. Why are you reading this when you could be renting the video??
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