20th Century

John Barrymore in a publicity still for Twentieth Century

John Barrymore as stage director Oscar Jaffe in Twentieth Century (1934), his greatest performance in the sound era.  John was one of the biggest stars of the silent era, was known as The Great Profile, starring in action, romance and drama, but his film career was largely undistinguished.  He was also well cast in the all star Grand Hotel (1932), and as the second male lead in Billy Wilder’s Midnight (1939).

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20th Century

Carole Lombard and John Barrymore in a publicity still for Twentieth Century (1934), Howard Hawks’ first film for Columbia Studios.  Howard would work at every major studio throughout his career, never making more than three in a row at any one studio.

20th Century

Signed photo on the set of Twentieth Century from John Barrymore to Carole Lombard

John Barrymore autographed a publicity still for Carole Lombard from their work together on Twentieth Century (1934).  Carole’s career had been floundering until her big break with Howard Hawks.  After working with Hawks and Barrymore, Carole became the biggest comedienne in Hollywood until her untimely death in 1942.

20th Century

Carole Lombard cramps three visitors (her new boyfriend and two of her old boyfriend’s minions)  into her small cabin on board the Twentieth Century (1934), the fanciest rail transportation at the time.

20th Century

Mildred Plotka becomes a big star after changing her name to Lily Garland in Twentieth Century (1934), and developing a massive case of divaitis along the way.

20th Century

Oscar Jaffe with his minions on board the Twentieth Century (1934).  It was Howard Hawks’ first comedy, and demonstrated the versatility that characterized his career.  By 1934 Hawks had also distinguished himself in the gangster genre with Scarface, the action genre with The Dawn Patrol, and drama with The Criminal Code.  It would take him until 1948, though, to make a western masterpiece, with Red River.

20th Century

 

Carole Lombard and John Barrymore as Lily Garland and Oscar Jaffe in Twentieth Century (1934)

Oscar Jaffe, the hammy and narcissistic stage producer, and his leading lady Lily Garland in Twentieth Century (1934).

20th Century

John Barrymore and Carole Lombard are a perfect pair in Twentieth Century (1934).  Howard Hawks demonstrated here how he was able to create an enduring screen persona for the biggest Hollywood stars whom he would continue to showcase throughout his career.

20th Century

Carole Lombard as Lily Garland in Twentieth Century (1934), her first classic screwball comedy.

20th Century

Roscoe Karns as Oscar Jaffe’s minion Owen O’Malley in Twentieth Century (1934).

20th Century

Carole Lombard is trailed by jealous Oscar Jaffe’s minions Roscoe Karns and Walter Connelly in Twentieth Century (1934)

20th Century

Carole Lombard shows off her legs in a pre-code publicity still with John Barrymore for Twentieth Century (1934)

20th Century

Carole Lombard and John Barrymore in Twentieth Century (1934).  John was considered one of the greatest actors and stars of the silent era, and was nicknamed The Great Profile.  His career in sound films was generally unrewarding, with Twentieth Century his only great star vehicle.  He was also well cast in Grand Hotel (1932) which is more of an ensemble piece, and Midnight (1939) as a supporting player in a Billy Wilder script.

20th Century

Carole Lombard and John Barrymore on board the 20th Century Limited. the railroad’s finest transportation of the day, in Twentieth Century (1934) at a time when popular air travel was still in its infancy.

20th Century

Carole Lombard seems to regret taking up with Ralph Forbes after splitting up with John Barrymore in Twentieth Century (1934)