Dinner at Eight (1933): Cukor’s Superlative Ensemble-Driven Comedy, Starring Jean Harlow, John Barrymore, Marie Dressler, Wallace Beery











Like Grand Hotel, MGM’s 1932 Oscar-winning picture, George Cukor’s 1933 comedy, Dinner at Eight, is a multi-character film, made in the Thalberg tradition of literary quality and high-caliber ensemble of stars (all largely playing supporting roles).

David O. Selznick moved to MGM in February 1933 to head up one of its production units. It was not very difficult for him to persuade Cukor to once again follow him. Ruled with a firm hand by Louis B. Mayer, MGM was then the most prestigious studio in Hollywood.

Dinner at Eight
Dinner at Eight cph.3b52734.jpg

Theatrical release poster

The adaptation of Dinner at Eight was co-penned by Frances Marion, Herman Mankiewicz, and Donald Ogden Stewart, based on George S. Kaufman and Edna Ferber’s popular Broadway play.  This was the first MGM film made by George Cukor, and its splashy performance at the box-office immediately positioned him as the studio’s top director.

For Cukor, Kaufman was not a particularly profound writer, but he could write funny dialogue, which the adapters used as a blueprint, while adding their own witticisms.

Like Bill of Divorcement, Dinner at Eight was a straightforward, unobtrusive adaptation of a stage work with little attempt to go beyond a proscenium perspective; neither film contained exterior shots.

Unlike Bill of Divorcement, however, Dinner at Eight still maintains its contemporary edge. For audiences in 1933, the film’s ambience was very timely. with the underlying sense of Depression behind the comedy, and a sense of anxiety below the surface. The characters are bitter or insecure: Husbands cheat on wives, the rich are scared of going broke, actors lose their looks–and jobs.

The story revolves around a dinner party given by Millicent Jordan (Billie Burke), a foolish snob obsessed with status. As her guests arrive for a dinner party, in honor of VIP’s (who never show up), the carefully planned evening falls apart. Her husband, Oliver Jordan (Lionel Barrymore), seriously ill and in danger of loosing his business, invites crass industrialist Dan Packard (Wallace Beery) and his vulgar wife Kitty (Jean Harlow) in an attempt to salvage their fortunes. Their daughter Paula (Madge Evans) falls in love with Larry Renault (John Barrymore), a pathetically fading matinee idol, and abandons her fiance.

dinner_at_eight_3The script was written in four weeks by Herman Mankiewicz and Frances Marion, but Selznick brought in Donald Ogden Stewart, who had scripted Tarnished Lady, to make additional contributions. Stewart wrote the classic exchange between Kitty and aging Charlotta (Marie Dressler). Harlow says: “I was reading a book the other day, machinery is going to take the place of every profession.” With a pointed glance at her sexy rear, Dressler retorts, “Oh, something you need never worry about, my dear.” Dressler’s quip became one of the most memorable lines in movie lore.

Preserving the play’s caustic humor, the script softened some of its elements. Goaded by Kitty, for example, Packard decides against wresting control of Jordan’s shipping company. And when Paula learns about Renault’s death, she returns to her fiance, who knows nothing of the affair. These concessions were made to accommodate the audience’s taste at the time.

But some people were still troubled by the film’s ruthless cynicism–which is precisely what attracted Cukor to the material. People’s deceits and self-deceptions, their double and triple natures, are the film’s thematic core. “You’re two people really. One’s magnificent and the other’s very shady,” says a long-suffering wife to her philandering husband. These motifs, deception and self-delusion, would become prevalent in Cukor’s work.

Budgeted at $420,000, Dinner at Eight was made in the Thalberg tradition of literary quality, a modern drama with meaningful text. Because MGM had just released Grand Hotel, which won the 1932 Best Picture Oscar, invidious comparisons between the two movies were inevitable. Like Grand Hotel, Dinner at Eight was a multi-character contemporary, and like the 1932 film, it cashed in on MGM’s great gallery of stars.

dinner_at_eight_2Unlike the troubled and bumpy production of Grand Hotel, Dinner at Eight got off to a smooth start on March 16, 1933. Cukor was able to complete shooting in four weeks. “That was a wonderful record,” Cukor said, “I owed it all to these marvelous performers; with them behind me, everything seemed possible.” The fact that the film contains no sustained scenes undoubtedly contributed to Cukor’s ability to make it quickly.

Initially, Louis B. Mayer did not want to cast Jean Harlow as the flashy wisecracking blonde. Unconvinced of her talent, he feared she might suffer in comparison to Dressler, who played Carlotta, the aging grande dame–but Cukor fought for Harlow and won. Admittedly, Harlow had given weak, self-conscious performances in The Public Enemy, but in Red Dust Cukor noted her natural talent for comedy.

Harlow was a wise-cracker who conveyed at once toughness and vulnerability–a combination of qualities that made her attractive to both male and female viewers. Harlow had an uncanny knack for delivering her lines as if she had no idea of what she was saying. During the shoot, Cukor got to know Harlow well, finding her subtler and shrewder than given credit. “She was a real actress,” he later said, “with beautiful manners, a rather lady-like creature.” He was thus irritated by the lurid stories that circulated about her.

Cukor brought out the best in Harlow in his acute direction of her big scene where she tells off Wallace Beery. Beery finds her lying in bed wearing a new black hat in an all-white bedroom. She sits up, pushes back her hat (as if she was sitting on the toilet, Cukor put it) and without pulling any punches yells, “You big windbag!” When Beery plays the bigshot and has to go to Washington, she looks at him, clearly bored but still impressed, and says, “Yeah, you better go and fix things.” Cukor would orchestrate a similarly effective scene with Judy Holliday in Born Yesterday.

dinner_at_eight_1Barrymore’s superb portrayal of the tragic Renault was done as black comedy. Playing a second-rate actor–which, of course, he was not–Barrymore’s subtlety and wit turned Renault into an ignorant ham. An expert at shading his performance, Barrymore’s ability to immerse himself into a character and let that character transcend his own personality was remarkable. In his first shot, Barrymore is on the telephone trying to impress a society woman; his speech is well-observed and accurate. But when he turns to ask for a drink from the bellhop, his fake grandeur instantly disappears.

Cukor was particularly fond of a scene where Renault learns he has lost the job he desperately needs, because he is not British. “I can be English.” he says. “I can be as English as ahnnybohdy.” “Oh, that is wonderful, Jack!” Cukor enthusiastically said whenever the actor surprised him. “Well, it ought to be,” Barrymore retorted, “This is a combination of Maurice Costello (his father-in-law), Lowell Sherman (his brother-in-law), and me.”

Under Cukor’s direction, Barrymore was most effective in his death scene, one of the screen’s most vivid and pathetic suicides. Cukor suggested that Renault, always the actor, would die in a picturesque way but that he should botch his suicide–like everything else in his life. As shot, Barrymore, again drawing heavily on Lowell Sherman and Maurice Costello, walks very grandly across the room, then trips over a stool, gets up, pulls himself together, sits down in a chair and turns his profile to the light–in a suitable death pose. This marvelous scene taught Cukor that “If first-rate actors respect you, they’ll try anything you suggest.”

As a whole, the casting of the film could not have been better. Marie Dressler was outstanding as the gaudy, comical dowager. The biggest star of her time, Dressler’s specialty was low comedy–she would mug and carry on, but she knew how to play an actress with great aplomb. Homely, Dressler herself found it incredible she was playing an ex-beauty with a host of suitors. To make Carlotta more believable, Cukor proposed a campy, tongue-in-cheek approach.

Cukor’s only regret was his “great disservice” to Billie Burke, casting her as the feather-brained “flibbertigibbet.” Burke was so convincing that she was typecast in similar roles for the rest of her career. But Cukor knew that Burke “forgave” him; it was not in her character to hold grudges.

The film’s cast did not escape the biting humor of screenwriter Herman Mankiewicz, commenting on Cukor’s ability to coax great performances from his stars. “It must be awful tough for you to show Marie Dressler how to perform an old actress who’s very ill,” he quipped, “and I can see the difficulty in making Lionel Barrymore understand the emotions of a man who has an extravagant wife, or Jack Barrymore comprehending the feelings of a fading matinee idol.” Mankiewicz also “sympathized” with Cukor for trying to make a sexy tart out of Jean Harlow, and uncouth creature out of Wallace Beery. Indeed, details of Barrymore’s biography–Renault talks about his profile and drinking–were used to enhance his part. This interplay between the actors’ offstage and onstage personalities enriched the plot and its meanings.

In Dinner at Eight, considered the best film made from a Kaufman play, Cukor achieved a fine balance of comic and serious tonalities, a blend of high comedy and melodramatic pathos that would become one of his specialties. He also managed to fuse a broad range of acting styles (Harlow’s natural charm, Beery’s mugging, Dressler’s grand delivery) into a coherent ensemble piece. Yet, each star enjoyed one special vignette that lingered in memory-a tribute to Cukor’s directorial skills.

Having directed half a dozen films, Cukor felt he had begun to know his way around the camera. Dinner at Eight marked a significant change in Cukor as a director. Here, Cukor showed deeper understanding of the kind of performances that worked in movies–the difference between stage and screen acting.

Production commenced on March 16, 1933 for a film that was allocated only 27 days of shooting. “That was a wonderful record,” Cukor later recalled, “I owed it all to these marvelous performers, with them behind me, everything seemed possible.”

Spoiler Alert: The Last Scene

The comedy ends on a memorable scene and high tone.  As the guests slowly walk into the dining room, Kitty tells Carlotta, “I was reading a book the other day,” which give Carlotta pause and double take: “Reading a book?” she says?  “Yes, it’s all about civilization or something. A nutty kind of a book. Do you know that the guy says that machinery is going to take the place of every profession?” Carlotta then looks her up and down, and says “Oh, my dear, that’s something you need never worry about.”


Marie Dressler as Carlotta Vance

Lionel Barrymore as Oliver Jordan

Billie Burke as Millicent Jordan

madge Evans as Paula Jordan, the Jordans’ rebellious daughter

Wallace Beery as Dan Packard, a successful if crooked businessman

Jean Harlow as Kitty Packard, a lonely, conceited woman and wife of Dan Packard

John Barrymore as Larry Renault

Lee Tracy as Max Kane, Larry Renault’s desperate agent

Edmund Lowe as Dr. Wayne Talbot

Karen Morley as Lucy Talbot, Wayne Talbot’s longsuffering wife

Jean Hersholt as Jo Stengel, a theatrical agent

Phillips Holms as Ernest DeGraff, fiancé of Paula Jordan



Edwain Maxwell as Mr. Fitch, the hotel manager

Louise Closser Hale, as Hattie Loomis, a dinner guest

Grant Mitchell, as Ed Loomis, a dinner guest


Directed by George Cukor
Produced by David O. Selznick
Screenplay by Frances Marion, Herman J. Mankiewicz, additional dialogue by Donald Ogden Stewart, based on Dinner at Eight, the 1932 play by George S. Kaufman and
Edna Ferber
Music by William Axt
Cinematography William H. Daniels
Edited by Ben Lewis
Distributed by Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer

Release date: August 29, 1933

Running time: 113 minutes
Budget $435,000
Box office $2,156,000

xosotin chelseathông tin chuyển nhượngcâu lạc bộ bóng đá arsenalbóng đá atalantabundesligacầu thủ haalandUEFAevertonxosokeonhacaiketquabongdalichthidau7m.newskqbdtysokeobongdabongdalufutebol ao vivofutemaxmulticanaisonbethttps://bsport.fithttps://onbet88.ooohttps://i9bet.bizhttps://hi88.ooohttps://okvip.athttps://f8bet.athttps://fb88.cashhttps://vn88.cashhttps://shbet.atbóng đá world cupbóng đá inter milantin juventusbenzemala ligaclb leicester cityMUman citymessi lionelsalahnapolineymarpsgronaldoserie atottenhamvalenciaAS ROMALeverkusenac milanmbappenapolinewcastleaston villaliverpoolfa cupreal madridpremier leagueAjaxbao bong da247EPLbarcelonabournemouthaff cupasean footballbên lề sân cỏbáo bóng đá mớibóng đá cúp thế giớitin bóng đá ViệtUEFAbáo bóng đá việt namHuyền thoại bóng đágiải ngoại hạng anhSeagametap chi bong da the gioitin bong da lutrận đấu hôm nayviệt nam bóng đátin nong bong daBóng đá nữthể thao 7m24h bóng đábóng đá hôm naythe thao ngoai hang anhtin nhanh bóng đáphòng thay đồ bóng đábóng đá phủikèo nhà cái onbetbóng đá lu 2thông tin phòng thay đồthe thao vuaapp đánh lô đềdudoanxosoxổ số giải đặc biệthôm nay xổ sốkèo đẹp hôm nayketquaxosokq xskqxsmnsoi cầu ba miềnsoi cau thong kesxkt hôm naythế giới xổ sốxổ số 24hxo.soxoso3mienxo so ba mienxoso dac bietxosodientoanxổ số dự đoánvé số chiều xổxoso ket quaxosokienthietxoso kq hôm nayxoso ktxổ số megaxổ số mới nhất hôm nayxoso truc tiepxoso ViệtSX3MIENxs dự đoánxs mien bac hom nayxs miên namxsmientrungxsmn thu 7con số may mắn hôm nayKQXS 3 miền Bắc Trung Nam Nhanhdự đoán xổ số 3 miềndò vé sốdu doan xo so hom nayket qua xo xoket qua xo so.vntrúng thưởng xo sokq xoso trực tiếpket qua xskqxs 247số miền nams0x0 mienbacxosobamien hôm naysố đẹp hôm naysố đẹp trực tuyếnnuôi số đẹpxo so hom quaxoso ketquaxstruc tiep hom nayxổ số kiến thiết trực tiếpxổ số kq hôm nayso xo kq trực tuyenkết quả xổ số miền bắc trực tiếpxo so miền namxổ số miền nam trực tiếptrực tiếp xổ số hôm nayket wa xsKQ XOSOxoso onlinexo so truc tiep hom nayxsttso mien bac trong ngàyKQXS3Msố so mien bacdu doan xo so onlinedu doan cau loxổ số kenokqxs vnKQXOSOKQXS hôm naytrực tiếp kết quả xổ số ba miềncap lo dep nhat hom naysoi cầu chuẩn hôm nayso ket qua xo soXem kết quả xổ số nhanh nhấtSX3MIENXSMB chủ nhậtKQXSMNkết quả mở giải trực tuyếnGiờ vàng chốt số OnlineĐánh Đề Con Gìdò số miền namdò vé số hôm nayso mo so debach thủ lô đẹp nhất hôm naycầu đề hôm naykết quả xổ số kiến thiết toàn quốccau dep 88xsmb rong bach kimket qua xs 2023dự đoán xổ số hàng ngàyBạch thủ đề miền BắcSoi Cầu MB thần tàisoi cau vip 247soi cầu tốtsoi cầu miễn phísoi cau mb vipxsmb hom nayxs vietlottxsmn hôm naycầu lô đẹpthống kê lô kép xổ số miền Bắcquay thử xsmnxổ số thần tàiQuay thử XSMTxổ số chiều nayxo so mien nam hom nayweb đánh lô đề trực tuyến uy tínKQXS hôm nayxsmb ngày hôm nayXSMT chủ nhậtxổ số Power 6/55KQXS A trúng roycao thủ chốt sốbảng xổ số đặc biệtsoi cầu 247 vipsoi cầu wap 666Soi cầu miễn phí 888 VIPSoi Cau Chuan MBđộc thủ desố miền bắcthần tài cho sốKết quả xổ số thần tàiXem trực tiếp xổ sốXIN SỐ THẦN TÀI THỔ ĐỊACầu lô số đẹplô đẹp vip 24hsoi cầu miễn phí 888xổ số kiến thiết chiều nayXSMN thứ 7 hàng tuầnKết quả Xổ số Hồ Chí Minhnhà cái xổ số Việt NamXổ Số Đại PhátXổ số mới nhất Hôm Nayso xo mb hom nayxxmb88quay thu mbXo so Minh ChinhXS Minh Ngọc trực tiếp hôm nayXSMN 88XSTDxs than taixổ số UY TIN NHẤTxs vietlott 88SOI CẦU SIÊU CHUẨNSoiCauVietlô đẹp hôm nay vipket qua so xo hom naykqxsmb 30 ngàydự đoán xổ số 3 miềnSoi cầu 3 càng chuẩn xácbạch thủ lônuoi lo chuanbắt lô chuẩn theo ngàykq xo-solô 3 càngnuôi lô đề siêu vipcầu Lô Xiên XSMBđề về bao nhiêuSoi cầu x3xổ số kiến thiết ngày hôm nayquay thử xsmttruc tiep kết quả sxmntrực tiếp miền bắckết quả xổ số chấm vnbảng xs đặc biệt năm 2023soi cau xsmbxổ số hà nội hôm naysxmtxsmt hôm nayxs truc tiep mbketqua xo so onlinekqxs onlinexo số hôm nayXS3MTin xs hôm nayxsmn thu2XSMN hom nayxổ số miền bắc trực tiếp hôm naySO XOxsmbsxmn hôm nay188betlink188 xo sosoi cầu vip 88lô tô việtsoi lô việtXS247xs ba miềnchốt lô đẹp nhất hôm naychốt số xsmbCHƠI LÔ TÔsoi cau mn hom naychốt lô chuẩndu doan sxmtdự đoán xổ số onlinerồng bạch kim chốt 3 càng miễn phí hôm naythống kê lô gan miền bắcdàn đề lôCầu Kèo Đặc Biệtchốt cầu may mắnkết quả xổ số miền bắc hômSoi cầu vàng 777thẻ bài onlinedu doan mn 888soi cầu miền nam vipsoi cầu mt vipdàn de hôm nay7 cao thủ chốt sốsoi cau mien phi 7777 cao thủ chốt số nức tiếng3 càng miền bắcrồng bạch kim 777dàn de bất bạion newsddxsmn188betw88w88789bettf88sin88suvipsunwintf88five8812betsv88vn88Top 10 nhà cái uy tínsky88iwinlucky88nhacaisin88oxbetm88vn88w88789betiwinf8betrio66rio66lucky88oxbetvn88188bet789betMay-88five88one88sin88bk88xbetoxbetMU88188BETSV88RIO66ONBET88188betM88M88SV88Jun-68Jun-88one88iwinv9betw388OXBETw388w388onbetonbetonbetonbet88onbet88onbet88onbet88onbetonbetonbetonbetqh88mu88Nhà cái uy tínpog79vp777vp777vipbetvipbetuk88uk88typhu88typhu88tk88tk88sm66sm66me88me888live8live8livesm66me88win798livesm66me88win79pog79pog79vp777vp777uk88uk88tk88tk88luck8luck8kingbet86kingbet86k188k188hr99hr99123b8xbetvnvipbetsv66zbettaisunwin-vntyphu88vn138vwinvwinvi68ee881xbetrio66zbetvn138i9betvipfi88clubcf68onbet88ee88typhu88onbetonbetkhuyenmai12bet-moblie12betmoblietaimienphi247vi68clupcf68clupvipbeti9betqh88onb123onbefsoi cầunổ hũbắn cáđá gàđá gàgame bàicasinosoi cầuxóc đĩagame bàigiải mã giấc mơbầu cuaslot gamecasinonổ hủdàn đềBắn cácasinodàn đềnổ hũtài xỉuslot gamecasinobắn cáđá gàgame bàithể thaogame bàisoi cầukqsssoi cầucờ tướngbắn cágame bàixóc đĩa开云体育开云体育开云体育乐鱼体育乐鱼体育乐鱼体育亚新体育亚新体育亚新体育爱游戏爱游戏爱游戏华体会华体会华体会IM体育IM体育沙巴体育沙巴体育PM体育PM体育AG尊龙AG尊龙AG尊龙AG百家乐AG百家乐AG百家乐AG真人AG真人<AG真人<皇冠体育皇冠体育PG电子PG电子万博体育万博体育KOK体育KOK体育欧宝体育江南体育江南体育江南体育半岛体育半岛体育半岛体育凯发娱乐凯发娱乐杏彩体育杏彩体育杏彩体育FB体育PM真人PM真人<米乐娱乐米乐娱乐天博体育天博体育开元棋牌开元棋牌j9九游会j9九游会开云体育AG百家乐AG百家乐AG真人AG真人爱游戏华体会华体会im体育kok体育开云体育开云体育开云体育乐鱼体育乐鱼体育欧宝体育ob体育亚博体育亚博体育亚博体育亚博体育亚博体育亚博体育开云体育开云体育棋牌棋牌沙巴体育买球平台新葡京娱乐开云体育mu88qh88
Share this:
Share this page via Email Share this page via Stumble Upon Share this page via Digg this Share this page via Facebook Share this page via Twitter