Dinner at Eight (1933)

I saw Dinner at Eight as a kid so I didn’t realize until adulthood that this is really a drama touching on such serious issues as class, aging, money, and alcoholism. The acting is superb with great 3-dimensional characters.  There are comical moments especially with couple Wallace Berry and brassy blonde Jean Harlow. Scatterbrain Billie Burke must be one of the forerunners of screwball comedy.  Marie Dressler, a now elderly celebrated beauty also adds comic touches.

I can see why John Barrymore was called “The Great Profile.”  He really did have a great profile! He plays an aging actor whose alcoholism is turning him into an industry joke.  John Barrymore was a talented actor but I’ve always favored his brother Lionel Barrymore also starring as Burke’s husband who is in the mist of losing his fortune during the Great Depression.  Lionel is not as handsome as John but he’s a delightful actor. All the major characters are fantastic as well as the minor ones including Harlow’s blackmailing maid and Burke’s kitchen help.

I highly recommend this film to classic film newbies because it’s 1930s ensemble cast is a great introduction to the talents of the early decade.

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