Man of the Century (1999) Poster

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9/10
One Note Gag that Works like the Bee Knees
the_mad_mckenna18 May 2004
Some movies are just meant to be a great deal of fun, and this is one of them. What a delight - I'd never heard of it but stumbled on it on IFC and adored it. The sweetness and good-natured aspects of the film are part of the charm, as is the dead-on dialogue, situations and even camera angles/cinematography. For people who try and find reasons why this guy exists or why women would date him, you're missing the point of the movie. The Marx Brothers ending (no spoiler really), and the short Egyptian tomb sequence show the care that was taken with getting all the 1920's aspects down perfectly (and don't forget the musical numbers, when people would break into song in any sort of film back then -well, the talkies at least). Going incognito as Harold Lloyd? too funny - don't pass this one by when it shows up next time!
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9/10
A New Cult Classic
artzau13 August 2002
I chanced to see this on a Blockbuster shelf and in the dearth of anything else worth seeing, decided to take a chance. How glad I am! This is the funniest movie I've seen in years. In spite of being the original tightwad, I've ordered the DVD and have even sent one to my son whose humor runs in the same crooked gully as mine. The gimmick of a living anachronism is a powerful one indeed but to someone like myself who was raised on reporter movies of the 20s, who saw Cagney, Raft and Powell play these kinds of roles, using the same slang and expressions, now so out of date, I literally howled with delight. The acting is wonderful. As one reviewer here noted, everyone seemed to be having a delightful time. The film is just great, from the scratchy opening credits to the final scenes. Also, if you get the DVD, be sure and check out the reference section and scene set-up after the film is over. They are just delightful. Plot? What plot? The story is an eternal one: Virtuous young man in the face of chaos struggles to maintain the fabric of order in a basically disorderly universe while falling in love and being too virtuously shy to declare his feelings to the girl he loves, beating up bad guys and defending the honor of helpless young women and, revealing to the world the archvillain at the root of the evil in the empire. And, he does it all without getting dirty, mussed or messed up and losing sight of his goal. Wow. Get this. See it. Share it. It's just too damn good to miss. You'll be glad you did, kiddo.
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7/10
Lots of fun
mattymatt4ever20 February 2003
I've always been fascinated by the way the characters in old movies talk, with their lightning-fast wits and one-liners. So the idea of a man stuck in the 20's and speaking like those characters sounded intriguing to me. And I was impressed. Gibson Frazier perfectly inhabits his fish-out-of-water character, not missing a single beat. I can tell him and the co-writer/director did much research prior to making this movie. There are moments, like the climactic scene, which pay homage to the old slapstick farces.

"Man of the Century" is funny, original and bursting with imagination. It's an independent gem. And at only about 78 minutes, it's short and sweet. Those who are unfamiliar with old movies may not be as amused, but those who are familiar should have a ball.

My score: 7 (out of 10)
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9/10
You won't regret watching it
ctsteele-118 December 2007
Just want to get one point across: Watching this movie won't be one of those experiences were you waste a couple hours of your time, and come away with nothing for it.

Some of the posters have brought up that the movie may have some improbable quirks, etc. The beauty of this movie is that is original and entertaining. Its not deep, exciting, or pompous; but its funny and completely different than the formulaic junk being churned out right now.

If you do watch it, you'll feel you have to at least tell someone about it. That's also unusual.
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fun throwback
backseat-226 January 2003
I read Ebert's review of Man of the Century back in 1999, and wanted to see it ever since. Just noticed it on the Blockbuster new releases shelf and immediately forget what it was I went there for. What a treat this little gem is! The wisecracking dialogue, the homage to old movies, the snappy old songs and even some neat dance scenes contribute to the offbeat comedy. Unless you are a teenager with a 5 minute attention span and a chip on your shoulder, you will love this film.
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9/10
Banana Oil!
Quicksand12 May 2004
Caught this on cable quite by accident-- the idea behind it seemed really cute, and I decided to give it 10 minutes, to at least see how long it took for the filmmakers to screw it up.

Surprisingly, it held my attention for the entire film. The gimmick never got old; just when it seemed in danger of doing so, something new would happen to keep it fresh. A new character here, a plot twist there. Good, thoughtful filmmaking... and I really dug the 1920's slang. I wish I could remember more of it. Why DID we stop talking like this, anyway?

Good acting, some clever writing and a smartly-plotted story. The ending was a little cheesy, I thought, as I wanted to know the fates of the characters beyond the newspaper-story driven plot. But considering the source material, it really ended the only way it could have. So it's an amusing distraction for 90 minutes or so. And kind of educational, too. Banana Oil!
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10/10
Laughed so hard...
JPauloDesigns28 January 2006
This movie is nothing like I expected. It was the funniest thing I've seen in a long time. The acting of Gibson Frazier is wonderful. It was as if they picked him up right out of the 20s and dropped him modern day times. It really shows the difference of then and now. I loved all the references to the 20s and dialogue. If you don't really know a lot about the 20s, or films from that time, you won't get a lot of the humor. There is simple humor, such as the "one lump or two" bit or the way he holds the gun when you takes it from the "henchmen". There is also some racial humor in it as well. Not bad I'd say, but funny. The plot you can see unfold rather quick. But that's how most movies from that time took place. Well, I take that back, at the least the majority of movies I've seen from the past usually don't take a lot of thinking to figure out. Overall, I'd recommend this movie to anyone, young or old. If anything, just watch it for his rants in 1920s dialogue. Simply brilliant!
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7/10
Harold in Manhattan
ptb-827 February 2004
If Harold Lloyd had lived in 1999 and Woody Allen starred him in a new black and white film set in MANHATTAN, well this would be it. The idea for this film is very funny and it does deliver, musical numbers and all....there is even a Shanghai Lil style detour. It could have easily been more of a musical and easily have tossed in more episodes of Johnny Twennies wrangling modern mannerisms. Gibson Frasier is a real silent movie or Vitaphone hero and the IT girl sensibilities of 'his girl' works. It is only 77 minutes and I actually wanted more. As Johnny says in one very funny toss away line........RATS! The soundtrack which I also have at home as a Saturday morning pick-me-up is cute and accurate for the feel of the film.
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9/10
Great idea, great fun, wonderfully acted
bobjm9 February 2000
A newspaperman (Johnny Twennies) living in the 90's with a complete 20's personality and lifestyle - fedora, manual typewriter, the Charleston, the works. It's a great idea for a movie and it couldn't have been done better.

Johnny doesn't miss a cliche, but never uses the same one twice. You'll find yourself anticipating his reactions to the harsher '90s world as the movie goes along, you'll often guess right - but that makes the movie just that much more fun.

Lots of fun when Johnny is called on to save the same damsel in distress (named Virginia, natch) on three different occasions. She responds with appropriate fluttering eyelids each time.

His reaction to independent women, openly gay men, and the general '90s milieu is delightful. He remains happily oblivious.

Don't worry, the movie never takes itself seriously. Nobody preaches about the evil of the present, or the shallowness of the past. You end up with a warm feeling for all the characters, even the bad guys. This was one of those rare movies where you can actually feel that the performers are thoroughly enjoying their characters. The film makers make sure you know that with a delightfully offbeat ending.
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Labour of love
scottfotos29 May 2005
Warning: Spoilers
man of the Century is about a go-get-um newspaper man Johnny Twennies who speaks, acts, dresses, and lives circa 1920s. The vernacular is hilarious and the photography style is straight out of early film. Johhny's out of touch character doesn't seem to flip anyone out too bad but everyone is sort of perplexed by his odd, out of date behaviors. The movies delves deep into the pop culture of the time period, so deep that most won't understand the references, but it's okay, that's also what makes this movie so funny at times. The plot is simple: Johnny uncovers an organized crime ring and tries to bring the perps to justice. Sluggish at times and outright unbelievable sometimes, but the gimmick continues to work because the filmmakers stay true to the 1920s style of film-making. A snappy period soundtrack keeps things popping' , and the attention to detail helps this effort along. Some will love it, as do I, and some just won't appreciate what it is. A real slap-sticky ending disappoints slightly, but this in itself stays true to the style of film.
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10/10
Classic modern day farce
arlierayjr23 March 2005
This is a great farcical, modern day story. When watching this film I was reminded of the Marx Brothers, some of the early Crosby and Hope films and of course film noir. It also has some of the elements of stage drama a la Moliere. The main character, Johnny Twennies, is indeed the hero and is uniquely performed by Gibson Frazier in a throwback to Bogart,Jimmy Stewart and a dash of Groucho Marx.That is the only way to describe this unusual character.The music in the film is great and is reminiscent of some of Woody Allens films.They are from the jazz age and are legitimized by the appearances Lester Lanin and Bobby Short. Bobby Short is sadly no longer with us having passed away just recently, but performs at the end of this film in its final scene.Mr.Short has a bit role in the film but is worth seeing. I saw this film in 2001 on cable but did not catch the title at the time. Last year a friend remarked that he had seen a weird and quirky film with a character named Johnny Twennies and knew the title. I had to have the film and rented it several times. Yesterday, after hearing of Bobby Short's death, I wandered into a local video/music store and perused the DVDs and there it was, up front and I purchased it. If you need to see something that is truly unique, albeit with 'classic' elements telling and showing the story, Man of the Century is it.
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A Unique Experience: An Old-movie-lovers Movie
jeanie-54 October 1999
"Man of the Century" is inspired by silent comedies, early talking movies, vaudeville, and old RKO films.

It gives us a light-hearted look at the different ways in which cultural mores are portrayed in the 1920's and in the 1990's. The opening sequence has the look of the earliest films -- complete with scratches and grainy images and the jerkiness of old home movies. The rest of the film is in high-quality black and white with fine camera work. The film is co-written by Adam Abraham (who also directs) and Gibson Frazier (who stars in the title role as Johnny Twennies).

Johnny Twennies writes a column for a New York newspaper. The time is the 1990's, but Johnny is clearly living in the 1920's. We hear 1920's cliches from him and 1990's cliches from others. Johnny's tenacious innocence is refreshing and quite funny beside Samantha Winter's (Susan Egan) modern day social values. It is funny to hear Johnny swear with words like Applesauce! and Rats! while also hearing the ubiquitous use of f___ing by the others on

screen. The "endless stairs" is a brilliant sequence that breaks up the fast-talking dialogue. Since I love to dance, I was particularly overjoyed with a dance number with Johnny and Samantha dancing the Charlston while the others who are clearly older were dancing the jitterbug and swing and other more modern dances. Johnny's dance partner / leading lady is played impeccably by Susan Egan.

The film is face-paced. I know that I missed many of the innuendos and jokes. I love old movies, but I am not a student of those films or times. I found much pleasure in the experience even though I missed the significance of many one-liners. I also found that I had to adjust to the initial few minutes, first wondering if I was going to have to sit through 80 minutes of scratched film and then wondering what year it was because of the juxtaposition of modern cars and archaic language. About six persons left the audience in a group of about 100-120 individuals who were in an advance screening of the movie. Most of those who stayed were thoroughly engrossed in the film and applauded at the end.

It is similar in many ways to the "Purple Rose of Cairo" and "Pleasantville" in that it carries the charm of someone out of the current time or environment, frozen in another time and culture. Gestures, language, and tempo can be best compared to early films as a whole rather than to a specific film.

"Man of the Century" won the audience award at the 1999 Slamdance Film Festival. If the team of Abraham and Frazier can create another film of comparable quality in a different genre, they will make an enormous contribution to film making.
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9/10
Flappers take note: It's the bee's knees!
Matrixrefugee7717 May 2003
I spotted the DVD version of this film on the shelf of a local Blockbuster video recently, and being partial to both borderline fantasy flicks and Jazz-Age period films ("Road to Perdition" and "Chicago"), I rented it, utterly on a whim.

And what a whim! Granted, the script is a little thin, but if you can watch this with an open mind and heart (and especially if you're a fan of old movies), you will find yourself pleased and delighted. This is at one in the same time a gleeful homage to the silent films and early talkies of the 1920s and '30s and a gentle satire of modern life. Gibson Frazier as the hero, glib but honest New York newspaperman Johnny Twennies, deftly revitalizes the all-but forgotten Jazz-Age cinematic stock character 'the heroic reporter', bringing charm and joy to the bleakness of the 1990s which he finds himself thrust into. Like the chronologically stranded 19th century hero of "Kate and Leopold", he manages to manuever the hazards of modern life, always coming out on top: saving the day, chivalrously helping damsels in distress, and, true to the Jazz-Age convention, belting out a few period tunes along the way.

A strand of a plot exists, but the film is basically an 80 minute character sketch. Set aside any expectation of any major epiphanies...but there again, one can consider Johnny as the "noble savage" in reverse. Almost everyone around him is seen as crabby and foul-mouthed, whereas Johnny is perpetually cheerful, resorting to colorful 1920s slang instead of cussing the air blue, and using his keen wits rather than his fists to get out of a dangerous situation. Anyone disillusioned with the crassness of violent, untidy, monosyllabic movie heroes will find this live wire in a three-piece suit and fedora a welcome breath of fresh air. Ladies, take note: If you're looking for a guy who's a gentle man as well as a gentleman, once you've watched this film, you'll find yourself wishing you could find your own "Man of the Century".
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9/10
MAN OF THE CENTURY's A Loopy Charmer, and That's No Banana Oil!
dtb1 October 2008
Filmed in glorious black and white, MAN OF THE CENTURY (MotC) is a funny, charming spoof of and tribute to the films of the 1920s and '30s, in which our Roaring Twenties hero, good-natured joe Johnny Twennies (stage actor Gibson Frazier in a chipper, endearing performance. He also co-wrote and co-produced this daft little gem with Adam Abraham) just happens to be living in late 1990s Manhattan. Zany fish-out-of-water hijinks, adventures (Johnny's a newspaper reporter covering a hot crime-and-corruption story, don'cha know), and snappy musical numbers ensue. MotC is a short one-joke movie (a little under 80 minutes), but the joke is put across delightfully, often reminding me of early Woody Allen movies (including the style of the end credits). The darndest people turn up in the cast, too, such as Frank Gorshin, Anne Jackson (billed as Madame du Froid, for some reason), PRODUCERS Tony-winner Gary Beach, Susan Egan (our household has loved Egan and her brightly sultry voice since we heard her cartoon voice work in Disney's HERCULES, among others), bandleader Lester Lanin, and Bobby Short, the swankiest saloon singer The Big Apple ever saw (yes, he's involved in at least one of the musical numbers :-)). There's even a sequence paying homage to the Expressionism style of film-making. I've seen MotC on the IFC Channel, but it's also available from Netflix, so I highly recommend you renting or even buying it. This flicker's tops, and that's no banana oil! :-)
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9/10
Sweet, Funny, and Nostalgic
R Becker24 January 2006
"Nostalgia" is very often a catchphrase that means "how we wish things had been." That goes for everybody, whether or not you actually lived in the times you're looking back on -- and this is a fact that seems very clear to the makers of MAN OF THE CENTURY. It's a smart film that includes all the beats of both modern independent romantic comedies and classic films, but it never tries to convince you that the world of Johnny Twennies is anything like the real world... in the 1920s or the 1990s. Instead, it's a world of fantasy pretending to be the real world, with just a thin layer of verisimilitude on top of the proverbial cake. Everyone is perfect, from the "realistic" gangsters to Frank Gorshin's hilarious cameo, but the clear best in show is Gibson Frazier. Frazier is note-perfect as Johnny, and he commands the screen from start to finish with both his own solid performance and high charisma and shrewd tributes to Harold Lloyd and Buster Keaton. This movie's a winner, and I for one would love to see more work from Frazier on the movie screen.
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10/10
Great!
pantseeker19 November 2005
This movie not only combines the humor of a man who is mentally trapped in the 1920's, and a modern day society of the 1990's, but the movie itself is fashioned to portray a film made in the 1920's. Everything about it is completely unique, and the scenes come off as something someone in Johnny Twennies' day would concoct. I think this film is a milestone in the history of film-making. The directing was fantastic, and the cast and lines spoken, and feelings portrayed, all come together in a very clean, artistic, and magnificently made finished product. I highly recommend this film to anyone, and believe that even the least-likely candidate would appreciate it's glory.
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10/10
A giddy piece of pure joy and entertainment.
Big O-75 November 1999
It is a joy to see a movie that has no pretentions of being anything other than just a movie. It is pure entertainment, and it is pure joy. To be able to sit back and enjoy this movie is one of life's pure joys. If only some more movies were like this, the other drivel out there would be so much more bearable (who in Hollywood actually thought THE HAUNTING was good?). If Gibson Frazier does not become a star, then something is wrong. His performance as Johnny Twennies steals the show from an otherwise likable cast --including Dwight Ewell (CHASING AMY), Frank Gorshin (TV's BATMAN), Susan Egan (HERCULES), Cara Buono (THE COWBOY WAY), David Margulies (GHOSTBUSTERS), and Anthony Rapp (SCHOOL TIES)-- with a dapper smile and a tip of the hat.

Critics will tell you that the movie is slight. And guess what? It is, and it revels in being just so. But it does what movies were always meant to do... not teach you some social more, but transport us for a little bit of time, from our own dreary lives to some place sunnier, funnier. In other words, the film does nothing but entertain.

Unfortunately the films' studio, Fine Line Features, is not giving this picture the full-press coverage that it really deserves, so you will have to look hard to find it in the theaters. An easier way is simply to click on theater listings at "www.manofthecentury.com".
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9/10
Terrific. A hoot. See it and tell your friends!
philinny5 October 1999
A delightful riff on screwball "caper" comedies of the 20's & 30's. Inspired low-budget filmmaking that successfully mixes a present-day New York City setting with a dapper hero whose dress, vernacular and moral code is from another era. A hoot.

See it and tell your friends!
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Big hit with me
Don-943 June 1999
I saw "Man of the Century" at the Best of Slamdance compilation at the Egyptian Theatre earlier this year. I LOVED the film, but what surprised me was the response of the audience, which practically gave it a standing ovation. Brilliant piece of work.
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8/10
A witty and appealing satire
indy8129 April 1999
A very enjoyable farce about a 1920s stereotype living in modern New York. Writer/actor Gibson Frazier is excellent as Johnny Twenties, a square-jawed newspaper columnist completely oblivious to any social change of the last seventy years. The comic timing and editing of the film is also very good, though many of the jokes are a bit obvious. The theme of the film is cultural comparison, but it never gets heavy-handed, maintaining an appropriate light and goofy tone at all times. The cliches of 20s movies and literature are all put to good use. Some of the more excessive absurdist scenes detract from the overall tone, but Frazier's performance, the smart script and the "warm and fuzzy" feel of the whole thing should make this film appealing to a wide audience.
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10/10
Gosh, a great film!
mrfuzion12 October 2002
By jingo, this is just one of the best things to come down the pike since the motorcar! A brilliantly comic work, capturing the essence of a simpler time and cleverly overlaying it on the present. It's the bees knees, I tell you! Not to be missed!
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10/10
see this film!
sulu_9927 January 2000
i just saw this as part of a slamdance overview (it played at slamdance last year) and i was delighted. this is a clever, well made film. the picture follows johnny twennies, a young man with all the style and character of newspaper reporters from early movies, only he's living in the present day. his "old fashioned" manners and morals confuse his modern counterparts and occasionally creep in and take control of the film. i highly recommend this show for all.

there is a little swearing in the film, which somehow warranted an 'r' rating even though there is much less swearing and less objectionable material than most 'pg-13' flicks (if you let your kids watch pg-13, let 'em watch this.)
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6/10
Strange Little Indie Effort
ccthemovieman-122 May 2006
This strange, independent film is inhabited by a bunch of no-name actors except for Frank Gorshin, who himself hadn't done much since TV shows in the 1960s. However, the acting was fine: no complaints there. The black-and-white cinematography also is good, actually VERY good. The photography, and the 1920s expressions (the era here with this story) on Gibson Frazier's face, are the best things about this film.

The worst things is almost-nothing story and too much profanity in the last 20 minutes by the hoods. The latter is overdone and left this reviewer with a bad taste in his mouth about the film in general although the very ending features a "cute" musical tune. Actually, the music is good in here all the way through. As you can gather, this is an odd film.....but definitely work a look if you are seeking something a bit different.
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9/10
Extra! Extra! Johnnie Twenties is the Berries!
rsampron25 June 2007
Coming across like the big six, The Man of the Century left me grungy for a better day. The writing and direction hit on all sixes. The music was dandy. And when Johnnie and Samantha danced the Charleston beautifully, I was hooked like a mackerel on joy juice.

The smiles were strong, the music keen, and the photography in stellar black-and-white. The actors all played it straight, which made the film work perfectly.

Where did Adam Abraham, the director, go? He only made a few films, won a slew of awards for this one, and then nada!

The next time this film is on IFC, sit your keester down, give it five, and you will see what a keen flicker it really is. It simply slayed me!
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9/10
Surprisingly entertaining.
cableaddict1 May 2004
One of those films that's worth seeing if for no other reason than it's uniqueness.

It's a one-joke movie, but the joke is great and it has legs. As I watched this movie, I kept thinking that it would get repetitive and boring at any minute, but it never did.

Shades of "Purple Rose of Cairo" -but with a much better screenplay (sorry,

Woody.)

The only downfall is that there are too many ostentatious literary references - Shakespeare, Kafka, etc You HAVE read your Kafka, right? -and similarly,

there seems to be a lot of homages to the movies from the 20's, but many of

them likely don't work if you haven't seen those old movies.

still, this is a totally enjoyable flick. i was very surprised, given the premiss. -And Cara Buono is delightful. I doubt any other actrss could have done that role quite as well.
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