Clipped From Chicago Tribune
"Dinner" Film Compared with Play " Dinner at Eight" Movie Discussed in Relation to Its Stage Source. By Charles Collins. THE photoplay version of " Dinner at Eight" arouses my Interest because It has come to Chicago treading upon the heels of the drama that served as Its scenario. " Exit, Broadway; enter, Hollywood " feema to have been the stage direction for this Incident of the city's amusement life. The play ends, but the ttory goes on. The specialists on cinema affairs have already said their say about this superrnovie with Its Impressive galaxy of major stars. Now I shall take a crack at the subject from the point of view of a follower of the sick Institution upon which the film industry preys like a monstrous parasite. First of all, I regard the arrangement of " Dinner at Eight " for the camera and microphone as an excellent job in Its field. The two hours that I spent In watching the circumstances attendant upon the botched and almost frustrated dinner party of the aristocratic Sirs. Jordan were highly recreative. I liked the photoplay better, I suspect, than some of the movie critics, who failed to fall into their customary ecstasies. Easy Job for Scenario Writers. It was, of course, an easy matter to transplant " Dinner at Eight " to the picture screen. The play itself was written in a cinema style; Its structure was episodic, and its se quence of scenes had the pattern of camera technique. It could have been photographed without any important changes in the narration of its story. Certain alterations were made, however, and I am of the opinion that they manifest decided intelligence on the part of the studio staff. The major change was a softening of the sardonic mood of the piece. The bit ter snarl that Broadway regards as the proper note for satire was gently modified, and as a result the photo play is a more human and persuasive piece of work than the drama. The theme of "Dinner at Eight." as written by George S. Kaufman and Edna Ferber, was: "Swell Park avenue dame tries to throw ritzy dinner party. Three rousing Jeers! " Hollywood, in preparing this strong dose of scorn for its millions of patrons, wisely decided to omit the raspberries. Moreover, by granting that Mrs. Jordan's circle possessed certain kindly and humane characteristics, Hollywood came closer to the true spirit of social satire than the original authors. Omissions and Additions. The treatment of Carlotta Vance, the gaudy old actress, shows improvement of design. In the drama this character hung at a loose end; in the photoplay she is neatly braided into the story of the society girl's liaison with the collapsed celebrity of the old-Echool movies. The omission of the scene that deals with a' brawl in the servants' quarters meets with my complete approval. In the play this bit of melodrama served no purpose except to point a feeble jest about the destruction of the masterpiece f aspic jelly that was to grace Mrs. Jordan's dinner table. I objected to it In my review of the drama, and much to my surprise I find that Hollywood agrees. The scenarists of other days would have said: ' This scene is our meat," but apparently the picture Industry has been improving its breed of literary lads. Antl-senUrnentallsts may roar over two passages at the close of the photoplay the ingenue's tears when she learns through Carlotta Vance of the suicide of her lover, and the Mrs. Jordan's breakdown when she la told that her husband is doomed by heart disease. These are additions to the story that do not annoy me in the slightest. In fact, I accept thera as useful strokes in rounding out the story for the cinema audience. Hollywood Stars vs. Broadway Types. Bo far as the acting is concerned, however. I am strongly in favor of the original dramatic cast. The mass- meeting of stars in the photoplay does not dazzle me, and if I wanted to be cantakerous I could offer objections to many of the characterizations. These people, however, are the subjects of Mae Tinee, and I am inclined to let them pass. I will venture to point out, however, the roles that in my opinion equal or surpass the original interpretations. They are the doctor, acted by Edmund Lowe; the doctor's wife, acted by Karen Morley; the brother-in-law. acted by Grant Mitchell; the doctor's nurse, acted by Phoebe Foster; and the hotel manager, acted by Edwin Maxwell. I will add, also, that the hit scored by Jean Harlow, as the tough little lady, is largely a matter of skill in stage management and photography.