Note: This post was originally published by my friends Scott Jordan Harris and Simon Mason at The Spectator Arts Blog: “Touching From a Distance,” a wonderful pop culture an entertainment blog based in the U.K.. If you love film, music, literature, theatre, and the fine arts, TFAD is a site for you.
After the positive reception and well deserved 1932 Best Picture Oscar for the excellent ensemble drama Grand Hotel, MGM sought to replicate its success by enlisting the talents of David O. Selznick to produce an equally star studded and flamboyant followup. Turning once again to Broadway for inspiration, Selznick acquired the rights to a play by George S. Kaufman and Edna Ferber, hired George Cukor to direct, and had Herman Mankiewicz and Frances Marion write the adaptation (with Donald Ogden Stewart adding some additional dialogue.
The result was Dinner at Eight, a slickly produced film featuring some of Hollywood’s best actors at the height of their abilities. While not as artistically or financially successful as Grand Hotel, Dinner at Eight would go on to earn a rightful place in cinematic history, becoming a classic largely on the strength of its performances, the acuity of its observations, and a particularly legendary double-take and retort from one of the screen’s truly grand dames. Continue reading »