What a surprisingly enjoyable film, the epitome of solid Hollywood Golden Age studio movie-making.
I'd always meant to watch it but assumed it was kind of over-hyped. I loved the way each of the character's stories inter-connected and the mix of comedy and drama were beautifully handled. Gorgeous b&w art direction and costumes!
Marie Dressler, Billie Burke, John & Lionel Barrymore, Jean Harlow and Wallace Beery were all delightful but my favorite character was actually May Robson (who usually played grande dames) as the slatternly family cook. She made me lol in her one little scene about dropping the aspic!
Unfortunately, Robert Osborne and co-host Drew Barrymore had no insights to share on this one.
Anyone else see it?
The George Cukor Touch
Damn! Forgot to tape it!
Damn! forgot I have it on standard DVD!
This is what they mean when they say aging isn't for pussys
They say Harlow's eyebrows were emulated by drag queens all over. Seems she had a heavy, masculine brow and the arched, pencil-thin brows softened her appearance.
Dressler got top billing over all the others and deserved it. Besides this I've only seen her in Anna Christie as Marthy, a supporting role. But what were her big MGM hits I might check out?
I never realized that Dressler's line to Harlow "...that's something you need never worry about..." was the final line of the film.
Damn, but they knew how to get every laugh out of every scene.
The pacing is a little stiff for modern tastes, but it's clear why the major players were big stars.
Harlow, Barrymore, and Marie Dressler are priceless.
READING A BOOK???
Check out Marie Dressler in her Best Actress Oscar-winning role in Min and Bill.
Dressler got her Oscar for Min and Bill, and she's great in Emma as well (another nomination--it's not Austen's Emma). She's also great in her silent comedies, like Tillie's Punctured Romance.
How could Drew not be interesting or give insight to a film starring two Barrymores? Is she...special?
If you love the movie you should read the play script. It is a lot darker and more cynical, very much in keeping with the despair of the Great Depression. Everyone double crosses everyone else and there are no happy endings. Oliver Jordan is truly ruined by Dan Packard. Mrs. Jordan remains selfish to the end. Carlotta Vance does not catch Jordan's daughter in time to tell him that Larry Renault has killed himself.
In the play, we see the butler and the chauffeur battle over the parlor-maid (whereby the lobster in aspic is ruined forcing Mrs. Jordan to serve crab-meat, [italic]crab-meat![/italic] to her guests.) There is also a topical running joke that Gustave, the butler, is from Alsace, a region conquered by Germany in the Franco-Prussian war but returned to France after WWI. Gustave doesn't know whether he's a romantic Frenchman or a militant Prussian. He keeps snapping back and forth from one stereotype to the other.
R2, Harlow's shaved-off and penciled-in eyebrows were emulated by an era of women who went the rest of their lives grabbing the eyebrow pencil first thing every morning to draw on the brows that never grew back. Lucille Ball and Mary Martin both admitted to the folly. Many actresses of their generation were in the same fix.
My favorite scene is Billie Burke's--when she is scolding her husband and daughter about their their supposed "problems" when she had REAL problems! She is hilarious in that scene.
But I also love Marie Dressler (except they used the same makeup on her that they used on stage and in the silent movies--also did the same to John Barrymore).
One of my favorite movies!
Another victim here of over-plucking. Easy to do, back then, and awful the way other facial hair like faint mustaches does grow back, but not eyebrows. Lana Turner's never grew back either.
anyone else ever notice how very, very much drew b. resembles dolores costello, her grandmother. i think it's her grandmother - she was married to john barrymore, the elder, towards the end of his life. costello would be drew's father's mom.
Dolores Costello was indeed Drew Barrymore's paternal grandmother. She was quite lovely.
Whereas in the other Essentials screenings I've seen Drew do, she seemed to have been prepared to talk about the film in specifics. Sadly, for Dinner at 8, she had nothing to offer.
Prompted by Robert Osborne, she said her mother introduced her to old films when she was very little, explaining her lineage. I know Drew's parents split when she was a baby but it seems that she never had much time with her father at all after the split. So never she heard stories from directly from him about her grandfather and his brother and sister.
r9, thanks for the info about the play. I wondered if the movie was very different.
I've only seen a couple of Drew's "Essentials", but in those instances her contributions can be summarized as:
"Like, yeah. Totally."
"If you love the movie you should read the play script. It is a lot darker and more cynical, "
True, but the film is frequently portrayed as a light, screwball comedy. The first time I saw it, I was struck by the underlying despairing tone of the movie.
Jean Harlow's image was brilliantly created for b&w film. She never could have gotten away with that hair and makeup in glorious technicolor.
Are there any existing color photos of Jean with her platinum hair? I've never seen one.
"Are there any existing color photos of Jean with her platinum hair?"
If only there were a way to find them
If only...but your link r20, doesn't go anywhere.
But thanks for trying.
Natalie at r19
r20 got served by the irony of their own incompetence...
Sorry about that. Not sure why, but i can't copy the entire URL.
Of course, if you can type a reply, you can type "Jean Harlow color photos" on Google (or your preferred search engine) & find what you're looking for.
B&W was much more becoming, BTW.
The 1989 remake is much truer to the source material and, frankly, blows this creaky chestnut out of the water.
This is a pretty good color picture of Jean Harlow. But I agree with R23 that she looked best in black & white.
"They say Harlow's eyebrows were emulated by drag queens all over."
To this day, a startling number of my aunts have the eyebrows of Jean Harlow.
I think her makeup was relatively toned down in some of the color shots and she actually has a sort of freshness and youth that was not stressed or desired often in her early b&w films.
She also looks slightly softer in her last films. I think by then, just a few short years later, studios wanted a little more reality in their leading ladies.
[quote] Dressler got top billing over all the others and deserved it.
Yes, she probably deserved it, but I'll bet a lot of people don't know the real reason she got top billing. Because she was the biggest star in Hollywood at the time, an ugly old hag! I'm not dissing her, just pointing out how usual that was. Obviously she was very talented to have such extreme success despite her age and looks. Unfortunately she died shortly, or within a few years, after Eight.
Here's a link to prove it, Marie Dressler biggest box office star of the early 30s, first woman on the cover of Time.
I love Marie Dressler in the couple of films of hers I've seen so please don't take this as a criticism of her, but it's amazing to hear that she was the biggest box office draw of the early 30s yet was in so few films most anyone has heard of today.
But then I guess there is something about that period of early talkies that's just been lost as Marie's contemporaries, other big stars of that era like William Haines, Ruth Chatterton and Ann Harding are far less well-remembered than many silent screen stars.
I've seen some of the very early talkies, and IMHO the reason Marie Dressler had a run at the top is that her overacting made her the only thing on the screen that wasn't standing as still as a deer in the headlights.
Seriously, most films from that era are terrible, amateurish, and unwatchable. Audiences went to the theaters for novelty, spectacle, and sound, not to see good entertainment. Most of the established movie stars had crashed and burned, and new ones hadn't really come to the top. I don't believe she had a huge following, but as she did both leads and character roles, she did get put in a string of hit films.
I guess that's true about the early talkies. Broadway Melody was the first Oscar winning sound film and it is totally inept in every respect.
So Marie didn't really have a lot of serious competition, did she?
"The 1989 remake is much truer to the source material and, frankly, blows this creaky chestnut out of the water."
You're just too stupid to appreciate classic films. The remake is mediocre, at best.
I liked the scenes with Harlow and Wallace Beery the best. They hated each other in real life and boy does it show in their scenes together.
Just bought a coffee table book on Harlow. Gorgeous pictures.
Any info about the beautiful Philips Holmes who played the daughter's young fiancee? I don't think he appears in the film until the dinner party.
Dressler wasn't the first woman on the cover of Time. Helen Wills was on the cover in 1926, seven years before Dressler's cover, and I doubt that Wills was the first woman to grace the cover herself
I also loved the two character actors who played Billie Burke's tacky middle-class cousins. A perfect Cukor touch!
I read Marie Dressler's autobigraphy. She was Canadian and started in show business when she was just a teenager. She says she discovered Charlie Chaplin. Don't know--maybe. Anyhow, she gradually became famous and rec'd an academy award when she was 60. She says in the book that just because you're older, don't give up on your dream and don't think your life is over. (A few years before that, when she thought her career had bottomed out, she apparently attempted suicide or at least thought about it.) Ironically, she died shortly after this movie, at the height of her career.
There is a great 1991 biography of Cukor called George Cukor: A Double Life by Patrick McGilligan.
The author traces his life and career and analyzes his films but all in the context of homosexuality, closeted and uncloseted, during Hollywood's Golden Age.