Any self-respecting San Franciscan needs to give Barbary Coast a spin, a film of Gold Rush-era S.F., when the town was full of backstabbing gold panners, corrupt tycoons, and nary a "white woman" in the whole town. That changes when Miriam Hopkins arrives, fresh off the boat, only to discover her fiancee is no longer alive. To keep food on the table, she takes a job as a roulette wheel spinner (crooked, natch) for local boss Edward G. Robinson, who owns the movie -- at least when Walter Brennan's "Old Atrocity" (his actual character's name) isn't on screen. Lots of fun, despite a forced love story late in the picture, and full of chilly, delicious fog.
John Barrymore shines as the stubborn and eccentric theater director in this screwball comedy, a man who comes unhinged (and he's not fully hinged to begin with) when his leading lady (Carole Lombard) splits the show. He chases her across country on the fabled Twentieth Century train, with loads of absurdities on the way. Funny, but it gets too repetitious in the last act and slowly crumbles into the relatively obscure minor work it has become today.