New York City society matron Millicent Jordan is overjoyed when she receives word that Lord and Lady Ferncliffe, the richest couple in England, have accepted her invitation to her upcoming dinner party. However, her husband Oliver, a shipping magnate, finds Lord Ferncliffe a bore. Their daughter, Paula, is preoccupied with the impending return of her fiancé, Ernest DeGraff, from Europe.
On the morning of her dinner, Millicent loses the \"extra man\" she found for Carlotta. She telephones Larry Renault, a washed-up silent film star, and extends a last-minute invitation, unaware that Paula is in his hotel room. Larry and Paula have been having an affair for a month, but he wants to end it, citing their age difference (he is 47 and she is 19) and the fact that he is a three-time divorcé. Paula insists that she loves him, planning to tell her family and Ernest about their affair. Carlotta, who is staying in the same hotel, sees Paula leave Larry's room.
The Jordans' physician and friend Dr. Wayne Talbot has been having an affair with Kitty on the pretext of tending to her feigned illnesses. On the day of the dinner, his wife, Lucy, catches him in a compromising telephone call with Kitty. Talbot admits that he is a serial adulterer and vows to overcome his impulses. Lucy is surprisingly understanding, and the two kiss. Talbot receives a visit from an ailing Oliver, who is diagnosed with terminal thrombosis of the coronary arteries. At home, Oliver tries to tell Millicent that he needs to rest, but she is too hysterical to pay attention to him because, among several domestic disasters, the Ferncliffes have canceled.
Before he leaves for the dinner, Larry is visited by Max and Stengel. Upon discovering that the role being offered to him is that of a dead man, Larry drunkenly insults Stengel, who leaves in haste. Frustrated, Max forces Larry to face reality by bluntly asserting that he has no future in show business, before leaving. To make matters worse, the hotel manager tells Larry he has until the next day to leave. Larry, in utter despair, commits suicide by turning on his gas fireplace.
The dinner guests arrive at the Jordans' mansion. Carlotta informs Paula that Larry has killed himself, consoling the young woman as she breaks down in tears. Millicent learns about Oliver's health and financial setbacks. Realizing her own selfishness, Millicent tells Oliver that she is willing to adopt a more frugal lifestyle. As the guests are about to go in to dinner, Kitty pressures Dan to tell Oliver that he has saved the Jordan Line.
The story, composed of many subplots or mini-dramas seen in vignettes or series of tableaux, surrounded one main event - a formal, posh Friday night Manhattan dinner party during the height of the Depression. The overly-stagy film looked at the tangled and changed lives of the high society guests, from the time the invitations were given out for \"dinner at eight\" at the Jordans to the time of the party itself. The film ended with the start of the party just as the beleaguered guests entered the dining room. On the day of the dinner party, a clock periodically chimed on the hour, on the soundtrack.
The witty romantic comedy was filled with many choice lines of dialogue, and revolved around the various challenges, complications, setbacks, problems, and relationships during the dinner party's preparation phase. Most of the characters were hiding serious problems and issues. Cracks in the facade of the high-society members began to emerge - suicide, financial ruin due to a business take-over, love, infidelity, economic pressure, class conflict, the dawn of the talkies, divorce, aging and fading careers, and alcoholism all adversely affected their interactions. [Note: John Barrymore's life, including his alcoholism and acting decline, was semi-mirrored in the film.]
Scheming, excitable, social-climbing Park Avenue snob Millicent Jordan (Billie Burke) was in the midst of planning and hosting a fancy dinner party, scheduled for the following Friday evening (\"Dinner at Eight\"), a week away. The shallow socialite was overjoyed and bragged excitedly to her long-suffering, kindly husband Oliver Jordan (Lionel Barrymore) about her social coup. She had fortuitously acquired an RSVP acceptance (via radio) from the distinguished and wealthy Lord and Lady Ferncliffe - it was reflected in the film's first line of dialogue:
The crass, wheeling and dealing nouveau riche businessman Dan Packard (Wallace Beery), an ex-Western miner and self-made millionaire, arrived for an appointment with Jordan. He immediately recalled Carlotta's popularity as an actress among the burly miners: \"Your picture was on the wall of every mining shack up there in Montana, right alongside of John L. Sullivan.\" She excused herself from the office, but promised to attend the Jordan's \"dinner at eight\" party, and would be residing at the Hotel Versailles in the meantime.
As Jordan stumbled to his desk in despair, he received a phone call from a stressed-out Millicent, who was completely unaware of his impending bankruptcy and serious heart condition. She was obsessing and fussing over the guest list, in particular, finding an \"extra-man\" partner for her single guest Carlotta: \"I'm simply out of my mind. I'm still shy one couple, and I just can't find an extra man.\" The fluttery Millicent resisted the suggestion of her husband to invite the Packards for dinner (as an \"enormous favor\" to help him out of his financial difficulties, and to increase Dan's interest in his deal):
Millicent then explained to her uninvited cousin Hattie Loomis (Louise Closser Hale) that her invitations had all been filled for her \"small\" dinner party. Hattie was actually relieved for her movie-buff husband Ed's (Grant Loomis) sake:
An ambitious New York socialite plans an extravagant dinner party as her businessman husband, Oliver, contends with financial woes, causing a lot of tension between the couple. Meanwhile, their high-society friends and associates, including the gruff Dan Packard and his sultry spouse, Kitty, contend with their own entanglements, leading to revelations at the much-anticipated dinner.
You'll see a couple of Barrymores (John as the tragic film star still clinging to memories that have long since faded, Lionel as the hypochondriac harassed husband), Jean Harlow (in probably her best screen performance), Marie Dressler (the once great and glamorous actress now fallen on hard times), Billie Burke (the twittery dinner hostess), Wallace Beery (Harlow's hard-nosed husband who has come up through murky business deals to a kind of respectability) ...
Rules of the Game without the games, musical chairs without the chairs. All the wheelings and dealings of upper crust society where a dinner invitation is never actually a dinner invitation but an invitation to acquire businesses, stock tips, wives and ex-wives. This wasn't as witty or as zippy as I was expecting (outside of Jean Harlow, who never disappoints in a role that requires her to lounge and stew), but it is quite intelligent and staid.
Ferber collaborated on nearly all her plays with fellow Algonquin Round Table member George Kaufman, and Ferber had long had the idea to write a comedy of manners with interlocking stories surrounding a group of couples set to attend a dinner party. The play was a success, and it was adapted for the screen the next year.
The story concerns the events leading up to a New York socialite's party to take place next Friday evening, dinner at eight. Millicent Jordan (Burke), wife of shipping magnate Oliver Jordan III (Lionel Barrymore), has her sights set on entertaining The Lord and Lady Ferncliff upon their arrival from England. Also invited are Carlotta Vance, an aging theatrical Grand Dame who was the Belle of New York during the naughty nineties, vividly portrayed by the great Marie Dressler, her male counterpart for the occasion, the great yet fading movie star Larry Renault, played with a knowing sense of tragedy by the great profile himself, John Barrymore, and Mr. and Mrs. Dan Packard, these last very much against Millicent's wishes but since he is, after all, doing business with Oliver she must invite them. In addition to these guests the Jordan's daughter and her fiancé will also attend.
We soon find out that daughter Paula is having a torrid affair with the gloriously seedy Mr. Renault, and that the ditzy Kitty is carrying on with the dashing Dr. Talbot. She spends most of her time in bed thinking up ways to get the Doctor to come up and see her. Jean Harlow steals every scene she is in, she makes Kitty both completely real and movie star magical at the same time. As the week passes and the dinner party draws near we watch as these characters lives are interwoven with both hilarious and tragic results.
For those not familiar with this movie, perhaps you have seen the final scene. The guests have all been called in to dinner and as they head for the dining room Carlotta and Kitty make small talk. Kitty says I was reading a book the other day\", to which Carlotta does a double take of amazement. Yeah\" Kitty continues, It said that some day machines are gonna take the place of every human profession.\" Carlotta raises her eyebrow and replies knowingly, My dear, that is something you'll never have to worry about.\"
Dinner At Eight is a 1933 comedic drama from director George Cukor. Made after the success and in the tradition of Grand Hotel (1932), Dinner At Eight features an all-star cast of actors, whose characters all come together for an elite dinner party. But before they arrive, they all must deal with their social and financial status due to the great depression.
The hosts of this illustrious dinner party are Oliver and Millicent Jordan (Lionel Barrymore & Billie Burke). Oliver is a shipping mogul whose business has been hit hard by the depression, and now due to financial problems he has increasingly poor health. His wife, Millicent, has spent far too many years maintaing her elite status and has completely stopped paying attention to the obvious needs of her husband and 19-year-old daughter, Paula (Madge Eveans). Paula is engaged to Ernest DeGraff (Philips Holmes), who is about to return from overseas just in time for the dinner, but she also has been involved in a love affair with the much older, Larry Renault (John Barrymore). 59ce067264