DINNER AT EIGHT

(1933)
With Marie Dressler, John Barrymore, Wallace Beery, Jean Harlow, Lionel Barrymore, Billie Burke
Directed by George Cukor
Black and White
Reviewed by JL

Insert classic line here    An all-star cast gathers for dinner at the house of Mr. and Mrs. Oliver Jordan (Lionel Barrymore and Billie Burke) and proceeds to spend the evening grousing about lost youth and a changing world that is rapidly rendering many of them obsolete.  But more erudite and witty complaints you've never heard, such that DINNER AT EIGHT is regarded as a comedy and melodrama in equal measure.  Following the pattern established by the previous year's smash success GRAND HOTEL, DINNER AT EIGHT was the best of the all-star potboilers, its structure of episodic vignettes influencing even the disaster films of the 1970s.  I know I'm in the minority, but I always found Marie Dressler a bit too mannered in her attempts to seem unmannered, and I have trouble appreciating Jean Harlow's much-heralded comic gifts.  In later years, Carole Lombard and Lucille Ball did everything Harlow did, only better.  But Beery, Burke and the Barrymores are delightful, and the film's highly quotable repartee combine to make DINNER AT EIGHT a classic of its kind.  4½ - JL

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