Jean Harlow steals the meal in Dinner at Eight (1933)

Happy March everyone! I’m back today for an entry for my two fellow awesome bloggers that I absolutely positively adore, Ginnie at the Wonderful World of Cinema and Samantha of Musings of A Classic Film Addict, as they are hosting a blogathon in honor of another fabulous lady (like themselves)- Jean Harlow.

Jean Harlow was the original blonde bombshell who had a brief spell in Hollywood, a tragic end, yet had an enormous impact on movies and was certainly a Queen of the Screen in the 1930s.

Dinner at Eight (1933)
(AMC filmsite)

In Hollywood, its sometimes hard to stand out, but Jean always made her presence known- and the best part of was she didn’t even have to draw extra attention to herself- she was was herself and people noticed her. And it’s exactly that quality about her that made her stand out in George Cukor’s 1933 comedy of manners pre-code flick Dinner at Eight.

Dinner at Eight is tricky to categorize and even write about. Its a comedy of manners, contains an “all star” cast (Marie Dressler, John Barrymore AND Lionel Barrymore, Wallace Beery, Lee Tracy, Edmund Lowe, Billie Burke!) is episodic in plot structure, and is pre-code in its themes (they vividly talk about topics such as suicide, infidelity, alcoholism, financial destitute, and more).

The flick is often seen as a “twin” to 1932’s Grand Hotel and a precursor to all of the comedies of the high society rich we all know and love such as: My Man Godfrey (1936), Merrily We Live (1938) , Holiday (1938), and The Philadelphia Story (1940) to name a few. While this movie is all about the preparation for the dinner and we never see the actual event, we do however see the more interesting conflicts of what the guests are dealing with before they put on their facade being “rich and stuffy” at dinner.

But because this is Jean Harlow’s blogathon, I thought it would be more fun to write why Jean makes herself the scene stealer in a picture filled with stars!

1- She makes the most of her role: Jean plays the part of Kitty Packard (wife to Wallace Beery’s Dan). In this movie there is a cast of 25 (according to wikipedia!) with 8 actors getting main billing above the title. Jean is also acting amongst some of the most famous veteran players of her day: John and Linonel Barrymore! Silent star Marie Dressler! Beloved stage star Billie Burke! But in it all, here we are talking about Jean’s legacy in the film. Many today cite this was not only her finest but most complex performance: she just wasn’t Clark Gable’s girl to win or the pretty blonde girl at the party- she had a real interesting layers to her character that made you want to keep your eyes on her in the scenes she was in.

2- She has a gorgeous wardrobe: This movie in general is just so pretty to look at! Everything is art-deco and beautiful, including Jean’s wardrobe! Don’t you just want to borrow her outfits!?

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(wikipedia)
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With Marie Dressler (hollywoodreporter.com)
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Pintrest
CAN I BORROW THIS!!??

3- Jean gets the snappy lines: This may be the reason we remember Jean so instantly when we discuss this movie as Jean has some of the best dialogue lines in the film. Here is just a sample of her best ones!

Dan: You mean to tell me you’ve been putting it over on me with some other man? 
Kitty: Yes, and what are ya gonna do about it, ya big gasbag?


Dan: Remember what I told you last week? 
Kitty: I don’t remember what you told me a minute ago.

and finally this last exchange which happens to be the final scene in the movie: I’m leaving it as a video so you can watch if you choose

Gotta love Jean!!! Check out the other entries here

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THANKS FOR HOSTING LADIES!!!!

The King Of Hollywood Blogathon- Red Dust and Jean Harlow

2018 is here and I for one cannot think of a better way than to kick of the year than by writing about the King of Hollywood (click banner for host site). I can already tell that 2018 is gonna be a great year- especially for classic Hollywood fans like us because of so many awesome events (*cough*cough*- William Holden Centenary) Anyways back to the King!

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My ultimate favorite pic of Mr Gable!

Clark Gable is someone who in my view is not overrated- I think he’s a wonderful and humble man who never thought of himself as a star. He was so down to earth and someone who seemed like he would be a great friend to chat with. And of course I can’t mention the man without his great lady, Carole Lombard- to me they are the definition of true love!

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But getting back to the friend label- Clark Gable is a man I would want as my best friend- and that’s just what Jean Harlow had in him- a great friend and brother.

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Their first real movie Clark and Jean were in, Red Dust (1932) (they made The Secret Six-1931 but had no scenes together)  first came to my attention through the OTHER movie Gable was in, Mogambo (1953) in which as most of us know; Gable played the same part (different character name yes- but same part). I saw Mogambo first thanks to Grace Kelly and I really didn’t understand why people were calling referring to Gable as “past his prime”. I thought he looked good with a bit of graying temples and looked distinguished.  It wasn’t until a few years later when I finally saw Red Dust- and watching it didn’t alter my opinion- Gable looked good younger, in black and white, and later when his hair was black and white- I think we can appreciate Gable at both stages of his life- he’s just that swell!

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Red Dust tells the tale of a love triangle- with plantation manager Clark, prostitute (!?) Jean, and married woman Mary Astor – set on a rubber plantation in French Indochina. The details of the story aren’t really important but let’s be frank– or rather- fred– its Clark and Jean playing opposite each other!

While I love Mogambo and Grace Kelly and think she’s the greatest- I do believe I have to give Jean Harlow the best Gable co-star award. The chemistry she brings to her scenes with Gable in Red Dust is electric- you are just waiting for them to clap back at each other with that sharp and witty pre code dialogue. It’s peculiar to think but Clark and Jean are the type of stars you root for to be together on screen, but off screen you just love their friendship. You can certainly get a glimpse of their friendship in any movie they did together- but I declare its Red Dust in where it’s the most evident because it is a pre-code- they were more free to be- such as with their body language- the scene in which Clark and Jean sit on the bed together!!!

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             And let’s not forget that rain barrel scene– which of course Jean absolutely nailed despite dealing with the shocking death of husband Paul Bern. To me that scene personifies what a professional she was. Behind the scenes I  have no doubt that Clark was the rock for Jean during this incident- and then their friendship just took off from there.

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Behind the scenes (Credit- to Dearmrgable.com)

Clark was the only one not to refer to Jean as “the baby” instead opting to call her “sis”. I think she was his best leading lady and they would have made even more films beyond Saratoga 1937 had she not died.

Personally, I still need to watch China Seas (1935) but I think Red Dust will forever remain the best pairing between the two. I for one would love to have a friendship like that of Clark and Jean’s- it’s really their type of friendship that lacks in today’s modern world and I say we all can learn by example from it.