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Man of the Century is a quirky 1999 movie about Johnny Twennies, a Manhattan reporter who is curiously stuck in the 1920s. He dresses, speaks, and addresses other people in a manner that is 75 years dated. Other people are generally willing to accomodate him, although his long-suffering girlfriend can't understand why he won't make a move on her, and he has additional problems with his co-workers and the mobsters who are trying to control the content of his newpaper column.

The movie was filmed in black-and-white, and slips into the cinematic styles familiar to Johnny Twennies, including Harold Lloyd films, Charlie Chan films, and adventure serials set in Egyptian tombs.

Johnny's mother is even more dated than he is. She seems stuck in a time even a few decades earlier than his, sending a horse and carriage to pick up her son and trying to set him up with an young lady of appropriate social class.

In my favorite gag, Johhny insults and pushes away a young man who is singing a tin pan alley favorite in modern, emotive style, and takes his place at the piano with a herky-jerky piano roll rendition. Unrelated, Bobby Short has a cameo as an advice-giving bathroom attendant.

The film was well-received on the 1999 festival circuit, including winning awards at the New York Film Festival, Denver International Film Festival, Kudzu Film Festival, and Slamdance International Film Festival. It was the brainchild of USC Film School grad Adam Abraham, who remarkably has not yet had a follow-up film. Neither has lead actor/co-writer Gibson Frazier, though the female leads Susan Egan and Cara Buono have done better for themselves.

Roger Ebert loved the film, saying it was "a peculiar delight, a one-of-a-kind movie that was obviously inspired by their love of old movies". The New York Times was less positive, but granted that the film was "shrewd enough to avoid wearing out its welcome".

At the time of this writing, an appropriately dated promotional website for the movie lives on at http://www.finelinefeatures.com/johnny20s/

Man of the Century, 1999
New York Times, 29 October 1999
Chicago Sun-Times, 5 November 1999

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