Twentieth Century

There’s overacting and there’s over-Acting. John Barrymore provides the latter as a gloriously manic, egocentric Broadway producer in Howard Hawks’ priceless 1934 screwball comedy Twentieth Century. The pompous impresario creates a star (Carole Lombard) who becomes his lover, but his overwrought jealousy drives her to Hollywood. Two years later they meet on a train (the Twentieth Century line from Chicago to NYC), and comic pandemonium erupts. Peerless supporting players abet the insanity as Barrymore schemes to win her back. “We’re only real between curtains,” Lombard tells him, meaning those precious moments on stage. And in truth, neither is well equipped to walk among us mortals in the audience. A peerless comedienne during her short career, Lombard (1908-1942) is the subject of a six-film retrospective running Thursdays through August 13. You could call her the pinup queen of the screwball era—swell looking, and smart with her mouth. (NR) BRIAN MILLER

Thu., July 9, 7:30 p.m., 2009

 
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