Tag Archives: John Barrymore

The Set of 400: #104 – My Favorite Intricate Chalk Blocking

Today! Because I wouldn’t wipe my feet on him if he were starving, and I hope he is –

Twentieth Century (1934)

Directed by Howard Hawks

Starring John Barrymore (x2), Carole Lombard (x5), Walter Connolly (x2), Roscoe Karns, Charles Lane (x2), Edgar Kennedy (x2), Ralph Forbes (x2), Etienne Girardot, Dale Fuller, Billie Seward

The fifth and final Lombard to make the list, and the one that made her a star, Twentieth Century hits that sweet spot of mine being a movie about plays and also tangentially about movies, replete with ridiculous over-the-top theater people delivering headspinning dialogue from Oscar winners Ben Hecht and Scranton’s own Charles MacArthur. This movie is also directly responsible for the inclusion of the later Lombard flick True Confession – as that movie reunited this film’s stars, largely because Barrymore was falling on hard times and she insisted he get cast, a move that elevated the picture above her more standard light comedy of that time.

Fun, contentious on-screen pair!

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The Set of 400: #382 – My Favorite Pile of Lies

Today! Because Helen Bartlett is not Helen Bartlett alone. Helen Bartlett is womankind –

True Confession (1937)

Directed by Wesley Ruggles

Starring Carole Lombard, Fred MacMurray, John Barrymore, Edgar Kennedy, Porter Hall, Una Merkel, Lynne Overman, Hattie McDaniel, Byron Foulger, Irving Bacon

Just as a quick preface – herein is the first list appearance of the great Carole Lombard, maker of many a screwball romantic comedy of the 1930s and early ’40s, many of which are basically the same film over and over, the only difference being sometimes Carole was a socialite romantically involved below her, or she was a struggling working girl (no, not a prostitute, except in that one movie) romantically involved above her. I know this, as I watched every single one of her movies in 2018, mainly because they’re interchangeably nice and inoffensive and it was something to do. Some of these are still pretty good movies, but a handful manage to break away and really do something different.

Which brings us to True Confession, her second pairing with the fantastic John Barrymore and her fourth, final, and best film co-starring Fred MacMurray, this time as her lawyer husband trying to get her out of a murder rap. The grim set up is compounded by Carole’s character Helen being a chronic liar, mostly in the cause of doing good, but vastly complicated when on trial for her life. Naturally, hijinks ensue, including much complication brought about by Barrymore’s shady trial attendee and pub frequenter Charley, whose motives aren’t clear until well into the picture. Continue reading

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