Sunday, March 18, 2018

Come to Dinner

So I popped in my DVD of the 1933 Dinner at Eight off the Jean Harlow four-film box set. (It's got the same four films as this from the TCM Shop, but different cover art.) The short included with Dinner at Eight was the hilarious Come to Dinner.

Released in early 1934, a few months after Dinner at Eight, Come to Dinner spoofs the feature film in two reels using as much as possible lookalikes to play the main characters and parodying the plot. Among the scenes shown are the aspic dispute; one in Lionel Barrymore's office implying that the company actually makes toy boats rather than being a shipping company; the doctor visiting Jean Harlow (the Harlow lookalike has a dozen maids who put on a musical number parodying people like Mae Zest and Greta Gargle); and, perhaps best, the scenes in John Barrymore's hotel room. In the parody, the actor isn't a failed actor who's become an alcoholic, but an actor addicted to lemons! And he's willing to wind down his career to take small roles. This, much to the chagrin of his press agent, who reacts by trying to gas himself to death!

As for the portrayals, the men are weaker. The John Barrymore lookalike is quite good, with the Wallace Beery character being by far the weakest. The women are much better. The woman playing Harlow tries her best and doesn't do badly although nobody can do Harlow justice. The woman doing Marie Dressler is even broader in her gestures than Marie. But spare a thought for Billie Burke. The lookalike here is absolutely perfect and had me in stitches every time she was on screen.

I think anybody who's seen Dinner at Eight will absolutely love Come to Dinner.

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