Weekly Reads

Dinner at the movies

Dinner at the Movies

by Scott D. Strawn

 

It’s that time of the year when most of us are planning to have people over for dinner.  Family, friends, food...what could go wrong?  Hopefully nothing.  There’s always a chance, however, that the “perfect” dinner will turn into one that will be remembered for better or worse.  Need some examples?  Check these films out.

 

Dinner at the Ritz, 1937, 20th Century Fox

 

    

Well, of course the evening is going to have class if you invite the likes of David Niven.  Mr. Niven’s character, Paul de Brack, comes to the aid of Annabella, a jewelry seller whose father has been murdered.  The two track the killer across Europe.  Since we are told almost from the beginning who the murderer is, the real mystery is whether or not the murderer will be caught.  The real feast here is the locales and in the style the story is told.

Dinner at Eight, 1933, MGM

 

 

Millicent and Oliver invite friends over for dinner.  Of course they’re looking for dinner talk and do they get it!  The characters let out with a load of problems that can’t possibly be resolved by dessert, but make for one bang-up evening.  The cast includes Lionel and John Barrymore, Jean Harlow and Billie Burke, all of who take a work that could have easily sunk into soap opera and bring it up to the level of classic comedy/drama.

 

The Man Who Came to Dinner, 1942, Warner Brothers

 

Sheridan Whiteside, a radio personality, trips outside the residence of Daisy and Ernest Stanley.  The Stanley’s take him in thinking he’ll be an ideal house guest and will leave when he’s healed.  Instead he shows himself to be a heel who takes over the premises and causes major discontent.  When it’s discovered that Whiteside has actually recovered from his injury sometime back, and is faking his pain, the Stanley’s plot to oust the intruder from the premises. 

Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner, 1967, Columbia Pictures

   

Who’s coming to dinner?  Spencer Tracy, Katherine Hepburn, and Sidney Poitier, that’s who.  Though it might look a bit dated in 2017, forty years ago this film managed to cause some stir.  Joanna Drayton brings her fiance home to meet Mom and Dad.  Issue is (or “was” in 1967), her fiance is black.  Joanna’s parents who have believed themselves to be open-minded (and tried to raise their daughter to be so) struggle to live up to the standards they have set for themselves. 

Dinner Rush, 2000, Warner Brothers

 

“Dinner” is served at Louis Cropa’s Italian restaurant.  With a menu of gangsters, gambler’s and various other rogues, dinner is going to get spicy.  A helping of food critics and police add to the flavor.  Add in intrigue and manipulation, and the environment is going to be hotter than the food.  Before the evening is over, dessert might just include murder.

All films listed can be obtained through your local library.  For more information about films, or to find out about library services and programs, please visit your local library, or go to ahjlibrary.org.  Mr. Strawn is Director of the Allendale-Hampton-Jasper Regional Library.