Published August 4, 2008
TONIGHT'S BLOG WAS PREEMPTED BY :
Dinner At Eight (1933)
A masterfully-directed, poignant melodramatic comedy by director George Cukor and producer David O. Selznick, Dinner at Eight (1933) was filled with a tremendous cast of stars (inspired by the previous year's Grand Hotel (1932)) - who are all invited to a Manhattan formal dinner party during the height of the Depression. [Three of the stars, John and Lionel Barrymore, and Wallace Beery appeared in both films.] Many of the stars in the film first became known in silent cinema, including John and Lionel Barrymore, and Marie Dressler.
The dinner party (of the film's title) is being hosted by scheming, social-climbing Millicent Jordan (Billie Burke), wife of ailing and soon-to-be-bankrupt shipping magnate Oliver Jordan (Lionel Barrymore). The film looks at the tangled and changed lives of the high society guests, from the time the invitations are given out for "dinner at eight" at the Jordans to the time of the party itself.
As originally filmed, Carlotta's dog was named Mussolini but due to changing political climate, his name was post-dubbed as Tarzan, even though Marie Dressler's lips are clearly saying the first Mussolini.
CLASSIC SCENE :
The well-known closing lines of the film are set up when Kitty makes conversation with Carlotta about reading a book [a reference, presumably, to the popular novel of the day, Aldous Huxley's 1932 Brave New World]. They are on their way into dinner, promptly served at eight:
Kitty: I was reading a book the other day.
Carlotta (staggering at the thought): Reading a book!
Kitty: Yes. It's all about civilization or something, a nutty kind of a book.
Do you know that the guy said that machinery is going to take the place of every profession?
Carlotta (eyeing Kitty's costume, breasts and shapely physical charms):
Oh, my dear, that's something you need never worry about.