• Described  as the template for screwball comedy, “TWENTIETH CENTURY”(1934) has  John Barrymore as Broadway director Oscar Jaffe who needs to get his former star,  Lily Garland (Carole  Lombard to work for him again) .
  • Lily is now a big Hollywood star and is travelling on the Twentieth Century Limited between Chicago and New York.


Carole Lombard, John Barrymore.

Dare I say I havent seen “Twentieth Century”. Looking it up on IMDB, is it ‘one of the funniest movies ever made’,  or ‘a snooze- inducing bore’?

You tell me!


Carole Lombard, Roscoe Karns, Walter Connolly.


Director Howard Hawks, Carole Lombard , John  Barrymore.


Lombard and Hawks on the set.

Carole Lombard and John  Barrymore both died in 1942. Carole was 33, John was 60.


Dipping into the history of “Twentieth Century”, I discovered it was originally a 1932 Broadway play which starred Scottish actor Moffat Johnston as ‘Oscar Jaffe’ , and a Russian  actress, Eugenie Leonotovich as ‘Lily Garland’.


Eugenie Leontovich was married to Gregory Ratoff . She originated the role Garbo played in GRAND HOTEL.


Robert Preston and Binnie  Barnes in a 1952 Broadway production, taking over from Jose Ferrer and Gloria Swanson.

Jose Ferrer, Gloria Swanson


Fredric March


Lilli Palmer

Fredric March and Lilli Palmer also did the play, while in 1966, Betty Grable and Orson Welles appeared on television.



In 1978, composer Cy Coleman and writers Betty Comden and Adolph Green turned the play into a musical which I saw – several times- in London in 1980, with stars Julia McKenzie and Keith Michell .
The original Broadway stars of the musical in  1978 were John Cullum  and Madeline Kahn.

This is one of my top five stage musicals and I think if I watched the 1934 film, I might be waiting for a song to begin!


Julia McKenzie, Keith Michell.


The new standard blu-Ray of TWENTIETH CENTURY , coming out on 24th April, 2023, is from Powerhouse Films, a U.K. company which only sells blu discs.
Their Indicator series bring out limited edition box sets and single discs. When these editions are sold out, standard editions are issued ( generally with less extras).
Although most releases are Region B, they do have some region free titles.

Here are some of the Indicator titles. ( their website is Powerhousefilms.co.U.K.)








7 responses »

  1. Given all the names involved in the making of the film it has to be worth a watch

    Lots of background detail here https://ronfassler.medium.com/twentieth-century-the-play-951939ed8ae4

    And on the musical

  2. It’s been years sine I saw this film, and I don’t believe it was in the best of nick so the new Blu-ray ought to have it looking a lot better.
    How did I feel about it? I think I was a little underwhelmed, but I also think that was because I had read something about it beforehand and, as often happens, the buildup was hard t live up to. I don’t recall it as a bore though and I’m certainly not averse to giving it another go. The cast alone recommends it, although it has to be said that screwball comedy does not work for everyone and it is therefore bound to bring out some detractors.

  3. I’m not sure whether I would like John Barrymore as the demented director. But I probably need to see it for Carole Lombard.

  4. I found it irritating. Too much shouting and Barrymore way over the top. Julia McKenzie did a great vocal job in the London production but I don’t think it ran too long.

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