Dinner Party (1945)

Dinner Party

Summary: A totalitarian narrator points out every mistake, turning a dinner ‘party’ into an Orwellian nightmare!

This short film begins as most "social" news reels do: having the maid point out mistakes in a young girl’s dinner table preparations. (A napkin is out of place, the butter knife belongs on the butter dish, and so on.)

The narrator informs us that Betty is about to host her first dinner party, namely a birthday party for one of her friends.

As the guests enter we learn that Betty "has her confidence shaken and is unsure of herself…should she have preceded her

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guests into the room?" Yes. These were important matters. Well, despite being shaken up before the guests are even seated, Betty charges on. Other problems, "Did she direct them to their places correctly? Should she have used place cards?" (With a guest count of 5, I wouldn’t think that place cards would be necessary, but still, the narrator is here to point out every freakin’ mistake…and if a mistake is not discovered, then the narrator is quick to create one.

Anyway, the Narrator is quick to point out that Bob opened his napkin incorrectly. Yes, you read that correctly.

The soup crackers are passed. However, Floyd took a cracker before Betty, a blunder that is quickly pointed out to the viewer. As Bob continues to eat his soup, "he notices that the others have their relish placed differently…" Bob abashedly moves his 2 carrots from his soup plate to his bread plate. "Having made the change, Bob is glad to see Betty has noticed that he corrected himself. All is well again with the party."

As the subdued guests try to enjoy themselves, the Narrator (I’ll call him Big-N from now on) butts in: "Is there a correct way to eat an olive? Shouldn’t you just pop it into your mouth and eat it?" (I’m terrified to answer the question at this point. I don’t know what is what…2+2 = 5. War = Peace. Slavery = Freedom) Thank God Floyd has a way to eat an olive correctly. Really. Thank God.

The next faux pas is commented by Dorothy. She breaks her celery before taking a bite. "Celery has always just been celery," remarks Big-N. I’m afraid those days are over, my friend. "Does it look like a smaller bite when you dip into the salt and break it into a smaller portion?" Ayeeeiiiiii!

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As the meat is served, Bob struggles to decide what "implements" to use to serve it. (You would think a knife and fork would suffice…but think again buddy!) Bob slaps some meat on a plate, but it’s too much for the female guests, "A lady is not

flattered by being offered a portion a size that might appeal to a hungry lumber-jack!" Now Bob struggles to figure out if the portions he’s served are too small. (Seriously, this dude is going to have psychological problems after this party.)

"Now Betty is about to serve the salad," Big-N points out, "And some new questions are arising…" I bet they are: "What size should the salad portions be? Are they too little? Is she giving a proper assortment? As Betty passes the plate, should she say for whom the plate is intended?" (Do normal human beings really think about these things when you dishing out a salad for God’s sake?)

"[Bob] seems to remember that it is correct to use his knife for cutting lettuce or tomato if they are served in pieces that are too big for a proper bite. What do you think? Is he wrong? Or is he right?" Another issue is brought up: "Should you butter your vegetables with your fork or your knife?"

As Bob begins to eat, the Narrator makes a list of his blunders:

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"The waving of his knife and fork about. Talking with food in his mouth. Monopolizing the conversation. But it is an exciting story…about a trip up into the mountains…and then…Uh Oh!!!"

Yes, Bob has committed the greatest crime of all in this twisted nightmarish world: He’s spilled his milk.

Big-N says that both Bob and Betty should be embarrassed for his behavior. Why Betty? I don’t know. Who knows anymore. As long as somebody feels awkward Big-N is satisfied.

As "Betty regains her poise [!!]", Bernie reaches for some more jelly to his roll. "Was there anything in the way he helped himself to more jelly?", hints Big-N. "How about the way he holds his knife and fork? Or the way he cuts his meat…and takes

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it to his mouth with his left hand?"

"Betty holds the fork in her left hand when cutting the meat, then passes the fork to her right hand for placing it in her mouth. This is ‘Zig Zag Eating’."

This is really creepy stuff here!

The meat course is finished with no further mishaps.

Hilariously, Big-N says, "Formal parties like this are really enjoyable when one isn’t afraid of doing the wrong thing." Yeah, right! I’m afraid to blink my eyes after watching this! I’m scared s***tless to take a sip of water!

As Bob blows out the birthday cake candles, Big-N breaks in again, "Serving the meat course upset Bob…cutting the cake has its difficulties too."

"Cutting and serving would seem to be a pleasure…", says Big-N. Yes, I would agree. In a normal universe devoid of omniscient narrators and paranoid guests.

"Our party is ending…As you think of Betty and Bob, and their problems, think of your own manners…"

Yes. I’ll be sure to do that.

Conclusion: Utlra-paranoid guests and a Narrator that makes your hair stand on end. Pass the thorazene.

1 comment to Dinner Party (1945)

  • Guts3d

    …Narrator is quick to point out that Bob opened his napkin incorrectly. Yes, you read that correctly.

    I’ll bet I do too! The only difference is, I don’t care! Great review!

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