Napoleon vom Broadway (1934)

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Napoleon vom Broadway: Directed by Howard Hawks. With John Barrymore, Carole Lombard, Walter Connolly, Roscoe Karns. A flamboyant Broadway impresario who has fallen on hard times tries to get his former lover, now a Hollywood diva, to return and resurrect his failing career.

“Down but not quite out, a megalomaniacal theatrical producer schemes to get his former star u0026amp; lover back under contract during a wild ride on the TWENTIETH CENTURY Limited racing from Chicago to New York City.u003cbr/u003eu003cbr/u003eDirected by Howard Hawks from an inspired script by Ben Hecht u0026amp; Charles MacArthur, this is one of the seminal screwball comedies which would set the high-water mark for years to come – zany characters, living at a frenetic pace, throwing outrageous lines at each other. While the situations are completely unrealistic it makes no matter. Films like this were calculated to lift Depression audiences out of their troubles for an hour or so; today, we long for them to work that old magic again.u003cbr/u003eu003cbr/u003eIn a large u0026amp; spirited cast there is one eminence, one name above the title, one peak ascending over the smaller hills. John Barrymore, a lifetime of theatrical history and private dissolution etched on his remarkable face, is a grade A ham as the unspeakable Oscar Jaffe, willing to break any convention, law or dogma to get what he wants. Cajoling, pleading, threatening, cooing like a dove, screeching like a banshee, Barrymore is utterly mad, unspeakably obnoxious u0026amp; thoroughly delightful. He doesnu0026#39;t just dominate the film, he overwhelms it like a thick wave of brimstone u0026amp; honey. Watching him infuriate his players by chalking their movements on the floor, disguise himself as an elderly Southern gentleman in order to sneak aboard the train, or arranging his own fake death scene to serve his egotistical ends, is to watch a master of the acting art play a comedic role worthy of him.u003cbr/u003eu003cbr/u003eCarole Lombard is lovely, but completely overshadowed by Barrymore. Her character, while that of a great star, is pitched at a more normal tilt and exists to react to his enormities. While sheu0026#39;s wonderful to watch, itu0026#39;s impossible to forget to whom the film really belongs.u003cbr/u003eu003cbr/u003eThe rest of the cast is first rate. Barrymoreu0026#39;s two faithful factotums are played by dyspeptic Walter Connolly and sardonic, boozy Roscoe Karns, both of whom have learned to deal with The Masteru0026#39;s dictums in different ways. Hatchet-faced Charles Lane plays a director who becomes Barrymoreu0026#39;s theatrical blood rival. Edgar Kennedy burnishes his few scenes as a private eye whou0026#39;s no match for an enraged Lombard. Handsome Englishman Ralph Forbes plays against type as a spoiled society boy who thinks heu0026#39;s in love with Lombard. And for sheer looniness thereu0026#39;s chittering little Etienne Girardot, playing a benignly mad gentleman wandering about the train plastering large REPENT stickers on every available surface.u003cbr/u003eu003cbr/u003eMovie mavens will recognize Herman Bing u0026amp; Lee Kohlmar as the uncredited u0026amp; hilarious Passion Players from Oberammergau.”

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