Based on the Broadway hit by George S. Kaufman and Edna Ferber, Dinner at Eight is a near-flawless comedy/drama with an all-star cast at the peak of their talents. Social butterfly Mrs. Oliver Jordan (Billie Burke) arranges a dinner party that will benefit the busines of her husband (Lionel Barrymore). Among the invited are a crooked executive (Wallace Beery), who is in the process of ruining Jordan; his wife (Jean Harlow), who is carrying on an affair with a doctor (Edmund Lowe); a fading matinee idol (John Barrymore), who has squandered his fortune on liquor and is romantically involved with the Jordan daughter (Madge Evans); and a venerable stage actress (Marie Dressler), who since losing all her money has become a "professional guest." Nothing goes as planned, due to various suicides, double-crosses, compromises, fatal illness, and servant problems. But dinner is served precisely at eight. The script by Herman Mankiewicz, Frances Marion, and Donald Ogden Stewart is a virtual enclyopedia of witty lines and scenes, right down to the unforgettable closing gag.
by Hal Erickson synopsis