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Dinner @ 8, what a cast!


slaytonf
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It goes on forever: Marie Dressler, Lionel Barrymore, John Barrymore, Jean Harlow, Wallace Beery, Billie Burke, Madge Evans, Lee Tracy, May Robson, Gene Hersholt, Louise Closser Hale.

 

It's never been billed as an all-star ensemble cast, like Grand Hotel, but it beats most of the ones that were.

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If it's coming on TCM this month I won't be able to see it...very simple tv we have. I'm sure I've seen the movie at some point in my many years of watching TCM periodically, but I don't remember much from it. The cast does stand out...especially the two Barrymores and Jean Harlow.

 

PS: It's an essential, is it not? Came on earlier this evening (or last night, depending on your perspective.) I always enjoy seeing the essentials with Drew, I'm sure she loved this one with her own family in it. My dad doesn't like movies made after 1964 much but I am not so close-minded. This is a classic movie though!

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Slayton, DINNER AT EIGHT has always been billed as an all star picture, from day one, as the comedic companion piece to the groundbreaking GRAND HOTEL. It just doesn't have the cachet that GH does being the first one. It is still considered an all star endeavor,.as Osbornes comments last night exemplified.In fact, when released, DAE had publicity as to the fact that it had more stars than did GH.

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And the dialogue, for the most part, is first rate and delivered expertly by all those stars.

 

Watching it again last night also reminded me of how eerily close to real life JB was cast in it, with the phrase "The Great Profile" even being said by Lee Tracy's character to describe John Barrymore's has-been character.

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Dargo, that scene in which Lee Tracy cuts into Larry Renault for his pomposity and illusions of grandeur, for his baggy looks, as he now "sags like a woman" is quite vicious, thanks to Tracy's usual acidic delivery.

 

While Larry Renault's character was never portrayed as being quite as hailed by critics as John Barrymore had once been, the parallels between actor and role are unmistakable. I have to wonder if Barrymore didn't wonder if he wasn't having a glimpse at his own future when he played that role.

 

The other thing apparent is the physical deterioration that appears to have occured with Barrymore in just the year or so that had passed between when he played the Baron in Grand Hotel and this film. Yes, he was far more flatteringly photographed in the former film. Still, if you look at Dinner at Eight and Night Flight, made the same year, 1933, Barrymore's matinee idol days were clearly behind him.

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Ya know Tom, while I watched this film last night, I started thinking about the relatively recently coined phrase, "50 is the new 40"(or "60 is the new 50", etc). And the reason I started thinking of this phrase is because maybe it IS true.

 

'Cause I gotta say, all those stars in this thing, and not ONLY JB, looked to me to be at least 10 to 15 years older than their years by today's standards.

 

(..well, all of 'em except maybe Billie Burke...now SHE at 49 y/o at the time, still looked fairly youthful)

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Dargo, to me, Wallace Berry always looked like an old codger, now matter how old he was in a film.

 

Just stepping away from D@E for a second, ever notice how Lewis Stone never looked like a young man in his films. I know he wasn't exactly a youngster when he began in films, but even in the silent version of *Scaramouche* he looked older than 40.

 

Edited by: lavenderblue19 on Aug 18, 2013 6:41 PM

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It's interesting about the Andy Hardy series. Lewis Stone and Fay Holden did look like Andy's grandparents, rather than his parents. But I think for some reason in that corny series, it was part of the charm. Stone was the wise old sage and that was probably what that casting was about.

 

Don't want to veer off the topic of D@8 if others want to comment about that film.

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>Arturo:

>Slayton, DINNER AT EIGHT has always been billed as an all star picture, from day one, as the comedic companion piece to the groundbreaking GRAND HOTEL. It just doesn't have the cachet that GH does being the first one. It is still considered an all star endeavor,.as Osbornes comments last night exemplified.In fact, when released, DAE had publicity as to the fact that it had more stars than did GH.

 

Demonstrating the utility of checking the trailer on YouTube.

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Look at other examples.

 

My brother, who was 64 when he died, looked like he was in his 50's. Dark, full head of hair, smooth skin with no lines or wrinkles.

 

Spencer Tracy was the same age when HE died, and LOOKED to be in his 80's!

 

I think JB's performance in DA8 was one of his finest. I often wondered if his drunken Larry was indeed acting, or if he was schnockered for real when his scenes were shot. Kudos to JB for letting the whole "Great Profile" thing to be lampooned in the course of the picture. Most actors of the times did their best to avoid such nasty parodies to be seen by the public.

 

Sepiatone

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I agree Sepiatone. I've always thought the exact same thing about JB's performance in D@8. It was brave of him to expose himself that way, knowing that the audience would relate that character he portrayed as a reflection of his own life.

His performance was outstanding..

 

Don't know if you've ever seen the film *The Star* with Bette Davis. I've felt that way about Ms. Davis in that film. I've always thought that was very brave of her, to portray an aging actress who just couldn't let go and then realizing the reality that her time of portraying the younger woman was not possible for her. (she again relates that message in *All About Eve* )

 

I'm not comparing the 2 storylines, of D@8 and The Star, just how actors (Barrymore and Davis) had the guts to portray characters that related to their own lives and careers.

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I think part of the appeal of appearing in The Star for Davis was the fact that the character was based on her old rival, Joan Crawford. The writers were friends of Joan's who had a falling out and this was their way of getting back at her (LOL) Bette even utters some of Joan's trademark "Bless You"s in one scene. Of course, it was still a gutsy move, as most of the public wouldn't be aware of that fact.......

 

Edited by: Hibi on Aug 19, 2013 2:08 PM

 

Edited by: Hibi on Aug 19, 2013 3:03 PM

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Most of the public wasn't aware, but it really wouldn't matter. Bette was only 4 years younger than Joan, and didn't look it. So, as I said I feel it was a gutsy role for Bette to play in *The Star* just as it was a gutsy role for Barrymore to play in *Dinner at Eight* . I admire both of them for that.

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