August 16th, 2008

carole lombard 06
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Blog entry of the "Century"



It's the film that proved to the world -- and perhaps even to herself -- that Carole Lombard could act, indeed excel, in comedy. It's the film John Barrymore called his favorite (and considering the many fine movies he made, that's saying something). It's the film that inaugurated the character of the feisty, independent Howard Hawks woman...a type we would see portrayed in many different ways by many different actresses over the next few decades. And it's also the film that, along with a few others, helped kick off the "screwball" era.

We are, of course, referring to "Twentieth Century," which Turner Classic Movies in the U.S. will air on Oct. 6, 2008 -- the centennial of Lombard's birth -- to open Carole's reign as its Star of the Month. (It will also air on Nov. 30.) And speaking of TCM...

...it has an official blog called "Movie Morlocks" (http://www.moviemorlocks.com); "Morlocks" being the fictional underground species in H.G. Wells' "The Time Machine." The site is well worth checking out for some thoughtful writing on movies from a knowledgeable, enthusiastic bunch of bloggers. A recent entry on the blog discusses "Twentieth Century" (http://moviemorlocks.com/2008/08/14/twentieth-century/), and in it, you'll learn some interesting things:



* This was Hawks' first sound-era comedy; his previous talkies had all been dramas. Heretofore, he had rarely worked with star actresses, as they tended to be superfluous to the types of movies he was making.

* Writers Ben Hecht and Charles MacArthur each ended up with more than $39,000 for both selling their Broadway play to Columbia and adapting it to screen. Hawks, taking a break from his work at MGM, only received $25,000.

* Hawks not only had never worked with Barrymore before persuading him to make this film -- they had never met.

* Being slightly inebriated at a party might have won Lombard the part. Hawks saw Lombard “at a party with a couple drinks in her and she was hilarious and uninhibited and just what the part needed.”

* The film was influential, but not that big of a hit, particularly outside big cities.

So do check it out. If you don't, well, you'll want to kick yourself.

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