Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Cinema Tuesdays {Twentieth Century}

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I assume that everyone knows that It Happened One Night is considered to be the first Screwball made. Only, no one ever mentions this little gem, which was released only a few months later and cemented Carole Lombard as the dizzy Queen of Screwballs. I think it's the better movie of the two.
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Miss Lombard plays Mildred Plotka, a shop girl who wants to be an actress and has won the lead role in Oscar Jaffe's latest melodrama.
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This is the great genius impresario of Broadway, superbly played by John Barrymore. It takes a truly great actor to play an overacting ham while still being funny.
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These are Mr. Jaffe's two long-suffering flunkies Owen and Oliver.
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The play is naturally a smash and "Lily Garland" is Broadway's newest star.
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There are a couple of ways in which you can tell that Howard Hawks made this as a Pre-Code picture. First, if Lily were to take a deep breath in that dress...
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Second, the shot of pretty Thirties lingerie.
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Check out the garish bed that's shaped like a boat and the silver lame gown and she's not wearing a girdle!
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Years later, after a string of hit plays, Lily is upset that Oscar is working her like a dog and wont let her go out to nightclubs or see her mother. The third way this is Pre-Code is that Oscar and Lily are obviously living together without any talk of marriage.
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Oscar's paranoia leads him to do a very silly thing. He has Lily followed and her phone tapped.
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Typical mid-Thirties secretary look, but I love the pince-nez attached by a shoulder chain.
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Well, Lily finds out that her phone is tapped, beats up the detective and takes the first train to Hollywood and Oscar loses his genius.
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Two years later and Oscar is broke after a string of flops and Owen and Oscar are trying to think of a way to sneak him out of Chicago without being arrested by his creators.
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Meanwhile, Lily Garland is the biggest thing since sliced bread.
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Eventually, Oscar thinks of a way to sneak onto the Twentieth Century Limited.
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Also on the train is a recently escaped religious nutbar, who's running around putting stickers on everything. However, he is mostly harmless.
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Hey, looks who's also getting on the train and looks every inch the part of the Big Movie Star.
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While Oscar is quietly brooding in the corner, some strange bearded groupies appear at his cabin door.
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Turns out they're on tour in the Passion Play.
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Finally, the genius returns to Oscar. He'll put on the Passion play and if he can sign Lily as the star, he can raise a million in 20 minutes! Quick Oliver, order me two dozen camels to put on stage.
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This scene with Oscar and Lily in her Chinoise pyjamas is just a gas!
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Look at who Oliver found in the lounge to be the show's backer.
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When the truth is discovered, all Hell breaks loose and Oscar starts playing with a loaded gun.
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This is a clip of the Oscar loses his genius scene.

1 comment:

barncat said...

Another one I've never seen, I'll be sure to look for it. :)