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Robert Harris

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George Cukor's Dinner at Eight via Warner Archive's new Blu-ray, neither looks nor plays like the well-worn film elements of a 88 year-old production.

One of the quintessential all-star M-G-M productions, it's a film that I've never seen looking this miraculously good.

While it's just a shade heavy, and with a slightly limited gray scale, it's a Blu-ray that had me pleasantly shocked at its quality from the first frame to last.

Derived from a safety fine grain taken from the OCN, plus bits and pieces (that's a tech term) from a nitrate lavender.

Produced by David O. Selznick during his pre-indie days, it hosts an extraordinary cast - John Barrymore, Marie Dressler, Jean Harlow, Wallace Beery, Lionel Barrymore, Lee Tracy, Billie Burke, Edmund Lowe, Madge Evans, Jean Hersholt, May Robson - all meticulously photographed by the great William Daniels.

Screenplay by Herman Mankiewicz, based upon the play by George S. Kauffman and Edna Ferber.

We're talking an uber-classic production, which should be in every serious library.


Image – 4

Audio – 4

Pass / Fail – Pass

Very Highly Recommended

RAH
 
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Angelo Colombus

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It's probably better than reading a book

There's a joke in there. A scene with Jean Harlow and Marie Dressler as they walk to the banquet room.
There is a clip of that scene in the documentary "MGM: When the Lion Roars" which i viewed a few months ago.
 

roxy1927

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'You couldn't get into the men's room at the Astor!'
Though she means the hotel.
I love references to a New York I never knew but seemed exciting.
The film is a favorite of mine.
Who knew Karen Morley lived to 2003?

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Will Krupp

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'You couldn't get into the men's room at the Astor!'
Though she means the hotel.
I love references to a New York I never knew but seemed exciting.

I think the joke is an even deeper cut than you realize, lol.

Inside the Astor Hotel (a block away from the theater) was the infamous "Astor Bar" that was a high class, well known gay cruising spot at the time.

From wikipedia:
Beginning in the 1910s, the Astor Bar acquired a reputation as a gay meeting place. During World War II, the Astor Bar was one of three American hotel bars "world famous for their wartime ambience", alongside the Top of the Mark at the Mark Hopkins Hotel in San Francisco, and the men's bar at the Los Angeles Biltmore. Unlike the flamboyant late-night scenes at the automats, gay patrons at the Astor Bar were welcomed, allotted an entire side of the oval bar, and expected to be discreet (by the standards of the time). Thus "the Astor maintained its public reputation as an eminently respectable Times Square rendezvous, while its reputation as a gay rendezvous and pickup bar assumed legendary proportions." The bar was further immortalized in Cole Porter's song "Well, Did You Evah!", which includes the line, "Have you heard that Mimsie Starr / Just got pinched in the Astor Bar?" The ribald tune "She Had to Go and Lose It at the Astor" explored a similar theme.

When she says the men's room at the Astor, I BELIEVE she means the men's room at the Astor Bar. Since anyone could get into the Astor, when she tells him that by the time she's through with him he won't even be able to get into the men's room, she's signalling that she's not kidding around, lol. Kaufman's joke probably went over the heads of anyone in that 1933 audience outside of New York City.
 
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Joel Arndt

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I wholeheartedly agree with Mr. Harris' assessment of Dinner at Eight. The Blu-ray looks amazing and still plays well for an 88 year-old film. I was only going to spot check last night, but was drawn in immediately and watched the whole thing. The entire cast is wonderful, but IMHO it's the three leading women (Dressler, Harlow and Burke) who steal the show. Highly recommended!
 

Caproni

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Dinner at Eight is easily one of my favorite Old Hollywood all-star pictures. Despite all the publicity that surrounds Grand Hotel, which predates this movie by a year, I find Dinner at Eight to be the more enjoyable, intertwining tale.

This film offers us some superb performances: Marie Dressler as the respected stage star Carlotta Vance; John Barrymore as the washed-up screen star Larry Renault; Lionel Barrymore as the terminally ill millionaire Oliver Jordan; Billie Burke as his snooty society wife Millicent; Jean Harlow as the gold-digging and fast-talking Kitty Packard; Wallace Beery as her over-bearing husband Dan; and Edmund Lowe as the first class doctor Wayne Talbot.

The script to Dinner at Eight is already top-notch, but the cast elevates it even more. Had less capable actors and actresses been tasked with such material, I seriously doubt this film would be as highly regarded as it is. People often rave about Dinner at Eight being a classic comedy, but that reputation misdirects viewers away from the film's more dramatic moments. That's one of the best things about this movie in my opinion: It's even mixture of comedy and drama.

Dinner at Eight made me fully aware of and appreciate Jean Harlow. She was the original platinum blonde, the first sex symbol of the talkies. I know of her, sure, especially by being a Marilyn Monroe fan, but I hadn't seen any of Harlow's movies prior to this one. It's still my favorite of her movies, even though she had more "starry" roles elsewhere. Even so, I'd argue that Harlow's performance as Kitty Packard is about as iconic as it gets. It certainly sums up her Pre-Code screen persona in one film.

I'm glad Dinner at Eight is getting its due on Blu-ray. This just might make me eager to replace my treasured DVD copy.

Dinner1-1600x900-c-default.jpg
 

Will Krupp

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Dinner at Eight is easily one of my favorite Old Hollywood all-star pictures. Despite all the publicity that surrounds Grand Hotel, which predates this movie by a year, I find Dinner at Eight to be the more enjoyable, intertwining tale.

Thanks for posting that, I'd forgotten how much I love that picture. It was originally a Coca-Cola ad! John Barrymore is the only star who refused to be a part of it, for some reason. It's beautiful!

0d7927328e4ba602778f64513d4de5a3.jpg
 

Caproni

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Thanks for posting that, I'd forgotten how much I love that picture. It was originally a Coca-Cola ad! John Barrymore is the only star who refused to be a part of it, for some reason. It's beautiful!

View attachment 117258
I was wondering the picture looked a little distorted. I caulked it up to being a colorized picture from the black-and-white original. I've always liked this picture too.
 

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