Category Archives: Golden Age of Hollywood

Dinner At Eight (1933)

This posting is an added extra bonus for my readers, as part of the Classic Movie History Project Blogathon, wonderfully run by Movies Silently, Once Upon A Screen, and Silver Screenings. Well, fine, thats their Twitter tags, I know them by other names too, but for you…that will do.

So, in no great shock horror moment, I’ve picked a Harlow movie to review. To be honest, it was a toss up between this, and Bombshell (where Jean pretty much plays herself) for my choice, and Dinner At Eight won out, probably because of the closing line, at her expense.

Its said that MGM tossed a pile of stars at this movie, and it shows. 2 Barrymore’s amongst many, and of course, Jean Harlow. Funnily enough though, for me, its none of them that steal the movie, its Marie Dressler, as Carlotta, and Wallace Beery, as Packard who do that.

It is a Pre code movie, and it shows. In that half the characters are having illicit affairs, and just about everything else goes too. For those readers who dont know what I’m talking about, prior to 1934, things were a bit more “relaxed” as to what was permitted in movies, than was for the next 30 years or so. The other thing you can tell, is that its set in the Depression era, as most of the characters are either down on their luck, or heading that way.

Yes, most. The Packard’s are the newly rich, and I suspect not entirely in a lawful way, but anyway…Everyone else seems to be struggling with money, or loves, or…something! And irony, the 2 people who said dinner is being held for, go off elsewhere instead!

Jean, as Kitty, is sassy, tarty, and having a sly affair with her doctor. Beery, as her husband, makes the perfect foil for her. But one stands out amongst others, and that is Marie Dressler, as Carlotta, the down on her luck actress. She plays the part with relish, and of course, at the end, just before they go into dinner, shoots Kitty down in flames wonderfully. This is it!

There are tales that it was either added to the script at the last moment, and no one told Jean, to get a natural reaction. Equally that Dressler simply ad libbed the line into it, but I would be amazed if that was the case, given the way films were made back then.

The sad irony of this movie, is that Dressler makes a comment about death, and how even the young cant stop it coming, after a failed, drunk actor committed suicide. Why ironic? Well of course, as is well known, just 4 years later, the very young Jean Harlow was dead, at 26, due to kidney failure, which wasnt curable back then. But also, just 2 years after this movie was made, Dressler was dead too, from cancer, at the age of 65.

If you want to see an excellently cast, superb movie about life in the Depression era, then you should try to see this. Its not actually (at time of writing) available in full on You Tube, but it can be cheaply picked up at Amazon, or Ebay, and other places as well I’m sure.

Yes, there is crossover with Harlow, and Kitty, a character, to put it mildly. But if you want a light hearted biog of Jean Harlow, go watch Bombshell. Its not strictly true, but its a closer match than either of the films made about her in the 60’s. Of course, it doesnt include the end of her life, but anyway…

Lastly, the video. Well, the song has the perfect title, so…

A different type of pre interview speech

Firstly, let me go back to the last blog, and update matters, and in a good way.

That technical issue, I got a call the next morning from the company doing the interview tests, to tell me that my account had been reset, with another password, and that I was now able to take the test again,at my leisure. It worked, I passed, and seemingly passed the personality test afterwards as well, because they now want to do a phone interview with me, for the thing I ‘really love’, the competency tests.

As I say, its a modern thing, something I personally hate, but it has to be done. But hey, I’m now back in the running for the job, so mustn’t complain.

So fine, when I found out this afternoon by email that I had passed the early stages for another job, and saw I had to make a phone call, I was expecting more of the same. But no, something a little different. I have got to ring what I assume is an answering machine/tape recorder of some kind, leaving all my basic details, and then,

And telling us about something you are passionate about and why.

So not the usual, when did you do exceptional service, something out of the extra to help colleagues, and all that, when my mind tends to go blank, even if I’ve thought it all out in advance, which I do… but this!

At this point, I’m not sure if they expect it to be something work related, or just anything that you feel passionate about, but hopefully the latter, because I will be fine on that.

How does Pre-Code movies, and the Golden age of Hollywood sound?

What, I can hear you saying from here!

Well, in the early days of silent movies, some of them were downright saucy. In the early days of talkies, it was much the same. To say the early Mae West movies were suggestive, would be to put it diplomatically. Jean Harlow wasnt much more of a ‘good girl’ either, back then. A prostitute, a gangsters moll, and a money grabbing, easy going wife were just 3 of her pre code roles.

Then in 1934, the moralists had enough of all this hanky-panky, and brought in something called the Hays Code. This tamed things down considerably, shall we say? For example, that role where Jean was a prostitute, well she ends the film as the moralistic, good girl, despite her nature of work. Post code, a bad girl had to stay bad!

Jean pretty much moved into romantic comedies, became a golden blonde, instead of a platinum one, and charmed audiences that way, which in all truth suited her nature better, and her acting quality improved accordingly.

It wasnt in fact until well into the 1960’s before things became ‘more relaxed’ again moral wise, and indeed, compared to some modern stuff, pre code is almost tame!

So yes, I dont think I’ll have many problems with this challenge, I must say.

The video, what Mae West definitely was, in those wonderful Pre Code days,