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Millicent Jordan is pre-occupied with the plans she is making for a high-class dinner party. Her husband Oliver is in failing health, and he is also worried because someone is trying to buy up the stock in his shipping business - even his old friend Carlotta wants to sell her stock. Hoping to get help from businessman Dan Packard, he persuades Millicent, against her wishes, to invite Packard and his wife to the dinner. As Oliver's problems get worse, Millicent is increasingly quick-tempered because the plans for the party are not going smoothly. As the time for the dinner approaches, it appears that the hosts and the guests will all have plenty on their minds. Written by
"Darling, I've got Lord and Lady Ferncliffe [...] You remember the Ferncliffes from London, do you darling?"
"Yes, yes.. and how dull they were, eating mutton."
I just love it! This lavish all-star MGM-production still is great entertainment. Some of it's notions are somewhat dated perhaps, but with this team behind - and in the film - nothing can go wrong.
A portrait of various strata of New York society, the clash between the newly riches and the old elite, the Old and New World, the battle of the sexes (between Wallace Beery and Harlow), Gotham in a nutshell. Nothing is "really" happening, the same as its "twin brother" GRAND HOTEL and essentially it's a filmed play (based on the play by George S. Kaufman and Edna Ferber), but with this cast there are no complaints. You don't hear anyone complaining about David Mamet's GLENGARY GLENN ROSS's filmed play, do you? Jean Harlow, "the Blonde Bombshell", as the deliciously vulgar wife of Wallace Beery, the new man in town, trying to connect with the New York elite and Washington politicians. John Barrymore is fantastic as a once famous actor from the silent era, who cannot accept the fact that his career is over.
To me the film is just a perfect time capsule of so many typical topics of the era: the depression, the transition from silents to talkies, the continuous transformation of the upper crust of New York society, the traveling by ocean steamer to Europe... It's actually a very rich film, no matter how fluffy it might look (in the case of Jean Harlow's wardrobe quite literally). And when given a treatment like this, the top-notch cast, good writing, gorgeous sets under the supervision of David O. Selznick and George Cukor, it's a feast for the eye.
Camera Obscura --- 9/10
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