This is only 19 seconds, but it may be my favorite exchange in all movies. It's a famous clip, so I'm sure many, if not most people here have seen it. But it's so wonderful that sometimes you just want post brilliance for the pure joy of it. Such things make life seem better.
The movie in question is Dinner at Eight, made all the way back in 1933. But in the 89 years since, through all the following years, the exchange remains a gem.
It's not just great for it's famous payoff -- both the line and delivery -- but the pure physicality of Marie Dressler's double-take at the beginning, in response to nothing more than a simple comment, is in competition as the best-ever in movies and for my taste if the scene ended right there, after just four seconds, this still might be my favorite movie exchange. That it has a topper to even that great joke makes it legendary. And Jean Harlow's matter-of-fact performance allows the scene to transcend from just a dumb blonde joke.
And then, yes, there's that classic payoff punchline, set up with comic timing from Dressler that is a Master Class. All beautifully written with a screenplay by Frances Marion and Herman J. Mankiewicz, based on the play by George S. Kaufman and Edna Ferber. Directed by George Cukor.
I know that one shouldn't overpraise things because it's hard to live up to. I'm okay with heavy praise for the scene. Indeed, it's how the movie ends. This is 19 seconds of filmmaking that shows the joy and majesty of simplicity and wit.
Robert J. Elisberg is a political commentator, screenwriter, novelist, tech writer and also some other things that I just tend to keep forgetting.
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