Dinner at Eight on TCM tonight!
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?
|by The George Cukor Touch||reply 39||11/12/2012|
Damn! Forgot to tape it!
Damn! forgot I have it on standard DVD!
|by The George Cukor Touch||reply 1||11/10/2012|
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.
|by The George Cukor Touch||reply 2||11/10/2012|
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.
|by The George Cukor Touch||reply 3||11/10/2012|
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.
|by The George Cukor Touch||reply 4||11/10/2012|
Check out Marie Dressler in her Best Actress Oscar-winning role in Min and Bill.
|by The George Cukor Touch||reply 6||11/11/2012|
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.
|by The George Cukor Touch||reply 7||11/11/2012|
How could Drew not be interesting or give insight to a film starring two Barrymores? Is she...special?
|by The George Cukor Touch||reply 8||11/11/2012|
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.
|by The George Cukor Touch||reply 9||11/11/2012|
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.
|by The George Cukor Touch||reply 10||11/11/2012|
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!
|by The George Cukor Touch||reply 11||11/11/2012|
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.
|by The George Cukor Touch||reply 12||11/11/2012|
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.
|by The George Cukor Touch||reply 13||11/11/2012|
Dolores Costello was indeed Drew Barrymore's paternal grandmother. She was quite lovely.
|by The George Cukor Touch||reply 14||11/11/2012|
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.
|by The George Cukor Touch||reply 16||11/11/2012|
I've only seen a couple of Drew's "Essentials", but in those instances her contributions can be summarized as:
"Like, yeah. Totally."
|by The George Cukor Touch||reply 17||11/11/2012|
"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.
|by The George Cukor Touch||reply 18||11/11/2012|
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.
|by The George Cukor Touch||reply 19||11/11/2012|
"Are there any existing color photos of Jean with her platinum hair?"
If only there were a way to find them
|by The George Cukor Touch||reply 20||11/11/2012|
If only...but your link r20, doesn't go anywhere.
But thanks for trying.
|by The George Cukor Touch||reply 21||11/11/2012|
r20 got served by the irony of their own incompetence...
|by The George Cukor Touch||reply 22||11/11/2012|
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.
|by The George Cukor Touch||reply 23||11/11/2012|
The 1989 remake is much truer to the source material and, frankly, blows this creaky chestnut out of the water.
|by The George Cukor Touch||reply 24||11/11/2012|
This is a pretty good color picture of Jean Harlow. But I agree with R23 that she looked best in black & white.
|by The George Cukor Touch||reply 25||11/11/2012|
"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.
|by The George Cukor Touch||reply 26||11/11/2012|
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.
|by The George Cukor Touch||reply 27||11/11/2012|
[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.
|by The George Cukor Touch||reply 28||11/11/2012|
Here's a link to prove it, Marie Dressler biggest box office star of the early 30s, first woman on the cover of Time.
|by The George Cukor Touch||reply 29||11/11/2012|
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.
|by The George Cukor Touch||reply 30||11/11/2012|
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.
|by The George Cukor Touch||reply 31||11/11/2012|
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?
|by The George Cukor Touch||reply 32||11/11/2012|
"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.
|by The George Cukor Touch||reply 33||11/11/2012|
Just bought a coffee table book on Harlow. Gorgeous pictures.
|by The George Cukor Touch||reply 34||11/11/2012|
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.
|by The George Cukor Touch||reply 35||11/11/2012|
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
|by The George Cukor Touch||reply 36||11/12/2012|
I also loved the two character actors who played Billie Burke's tacky middle-class cousins. A perfect Cukor touch!
|by The George Cukor Touch||reply 37||11/12/2012|
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.
|by The George Cukor Touch||reply 38||11/12/2012|
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.
|by The George Cukor Touch||reply 39||11/12/2012|