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Dinner at Eight (1933)

Passed | | Comedy, Drama | 12 January 1934 (USA)
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Affluent Millicent and Oliver Jordan throw a dinner for a handful of wealthy and/or well-born acquaintances, each of whom has much to reveal.

Director:

George Cukor

Writers:

Frances Marion (screen play), Herman J. Mankiewicz (screen play) | 3 more credits »
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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Marie Dressler ... Carlotta Vance
John Barrymore ... Larry Renault
Wallace Beery ... Dan Packard
Jean Harlow ... Kitty Packard
Lionel Barrymore ... Oliver Jordan
Lee Tracy ... Max Kane
Edmund Lowe ... Dr. Wayne Talbot
Billie Burke ... Millicent Jordan
Madge Evans ... Paula Jordan
Jean Hersholt ... Jo Stengel
Karen Morley ... Mrs. Lucy Talbot
Louise Closser Hale ... Hattie Loomis
Phillips Holmes ... Ernest DeGraff
May Robson ... Mrs. Wendel
Grant Mitchell ... Ed Loomis
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Storyline

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 Snow Leopard

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

Genres:

Comedy | Drama

Certificate:

Passed | See all certifications »
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Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English

Release Date:

12 January 1934 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Dinner at 8 See more »

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Box Office

Budget:

$435,000 (estimated)
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer (MGM) See more »
Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

(Turner library print)

Sound Mix:

Mono (Western Electric Sound System)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

According to Jean Harlow, the picture was shot as close to chronological order as possible "so we could all feel the dramatic power of the climactic scenes." See more »

Goofs

Carlotta seems to be saying a battleship was named after her (a little previously, to be sure). But battleships are always named after states. See more »

Quotes

Millicent Jordan: [First lines] Darling, I've got Lord and Lady Ferncliffe! They'll come to dinner next Friday. I just had a radio from them on the boat! Wasn't that brilliant of me, getting the Ferncliffes?
See more »

Alternate Versions

Also available in a computer colorized version. See more »


Soundtracks

I Loved You Then As I Love You Now
(1927) (uncredited)
(From Our Dancing Daughters (1928))
Music by William Axt and David Mendoza
Played during the opening credits
See more »

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User Reviews

 
One of the Best Comedies M-G-M made During the 1930s
11 November 2003 | by EightyProof45See all my reviews

The movie Dinner at Eight is one of the best comedies ever made in Hollywood. Any reviewer who has claimed that it isn't a comedy needs to re-examine the picture. Although undeniably dark in its tone, the film is undeniably hilarious, especially when certain actors are on-screen. It could be called a dark comedy, even a black comedy, but a comedy it is nonetheless. There are eight `above-the-title' stars in this picture.

Billie Burke, except for the scene in which she discovers her husband is ill, is a parody of the society woman. Every line of hers, emphasizing her scatterbrain-ness and her lack of priorities, reeks of hilarity. Her role is pure comedy.

Lionel Barrymore, playing a sickly business tycoon, has a less comedic role. His opening lines about `Australian mutton' are hilarious. The way he watches his wife planning the party is also quite comedic. His dramatic moments juxtapose alongside his wife's to create some of her funniest moments. His part is almost split down the middle between comedy and drama.

Wallace Beery, portraying a ruthless, uncouth business man, is hilarious. His vulgarity contradict everything Mrs. Jordan views as ideal. He screams, yells, and has a violent temper. And, boy, is he funny to watch. Anyone who tries to label his performance as anywhere near dramatic should have his or her head examined. He gives the funnies male performance in the film. The role is almost all comedy.

Jean Harlow, as his slutty, common, vixen-of-a-wife gives the finest comedic performance of her entire career. She snarls, changes her voice in different conversations, manipulates, and lies, all to comedic perfection. Just the sound of her voice, saying the most outrageous dialogue to boot, triggers the laughs. This is the most comedic role in the picture.

John Barrymore, as an aging silent matinee idol, is the film's most dramatic performance. Although he has some comic moments (very few), and some ironic and satirical actions (when he kills himself, for example, he positions the light perfectly to capture his profile), for the most part, his scenes give the film their most dramatic moments. The performance is about 90% drama.

Edmund Lowe, playing a doctor-cum-playboy having a tryst with Harlow, has his part split down the middle. He is often funny, never reaching the sheer hilarity of some of the others, but, also, never quite elevating to the heights of histrionics either. His views on extramarital affairs are pretty funny, but when he has to tell a patient of impending illness, its drama. The fact that he specializes in `bedside manner' is just funny, and his first embrace with his `patient' is a scathing critique of corrupt society. Just as Lionel Barrymore's role, Lowe's is split fifty-fifty, right down the middle.

Lee Tracy, as John Barrymore's agent, is simply hilarious. His vocal fluctuations were his trademark, and the part seems tailor-made for him. Although he has many dramatic moments, he is very funny most of the time. His reactions and gestures are wonderful. In all, this part is about 60% comedy, 40% drama.

Marie Dressler, as a grand dame of the 1890s, is priceless. She all-but steals the picture from her co-stars. Sprinkled among her part are dozens of comic innuendos and perfect double takes. She is perfect and absolutely hilarious at all time, with the exception of the one scene in which she must explain to a young woman that her lover has committed suicide. The rest of the time she goes traipsing about making a perfect spectacle of herself, and she is the greatest asset to the film, acting-wise. Her part is 99% comic, except for that one scene.

The supporting actors, particularly Louise Closser Hale and Grant Withers, are comedic perfection. With the exception of the scenes in John Barryore's room at the Hotel Versailles, almost every supporting role is meant to be funny. The sets and costumes poke fun at the times too, and in the last analysis, the picture is a dramatic comedy, but a comedy bien sûr!


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