Lecturer Sheridan Whiteside slips on the ice on his way into the home of a prominent Ohio family. The local doctor says Whiteside must remain confined having broken his leg. He begins to meddle with the lives of everyone in the household and, once his plots are underway, learns there is nothing wrong with his leg. He bribes the doctor and resumes control of the household. Written by Ed Stephan <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Monty Woolley repeats his stage role in this smart adaptation of Kaufman and Hart's Broadway play, inspired by the Algonquin celebs (Alexander Woolcott, Harpo Marx, Noel Coward).
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Warner Home Video released the Region 1 DVD on May 30, 2006. The film has an English audio track and subtitles in English, Spanish, and French. Bonus features include The Man Who Came to Dinner: Inside a Classic Comedy, the Joe McDoakes comedy short So You Think You Need Glasses, the musical short Six Hits and a Miss, and the original theatrical trailer.
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Movies and TV shows are Certified Fresh with a steady Tomatometer of 75% or higher after a set amount of reviews (80 for wide-release movies, 40 for limited-release movies, 20 for TV shows), including 5 reviews from Top Critics.
Variety made note of the "superb casting and nifty work by every member of the company" and thought the "only detracting angle in the entire film is [the] slowness of the first quarter. [The] portion in which the characters are being built up, before the complications of the story actually begin, is overlong."
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Sherry now stands, telling Maggie she is free to marry Bert, and prepares to return to New York by train. Unfortunately, as he is leaving the house, he slips on another patch of ice, injuring himself again. He is carried back inside the house screaming as the curtain falls.
Bette Davis was unhappy with the casting of Woolley. In later years, she observed, "I felt the film was not directed in a very imaginative way. For me, it was not a happy film to make; that it was a success, of course, did make me happy. I guess I never got over my disappointment in not working with the great John Barrymore."
Four of the leading characters are based on real-life personalities. Sheridan Whiteside was inspired by celebrated critic and Algonquin Round Table member Alexander Woollcott, who eventually played the role on stage; Lorraine Sheldon, by musical stage actress Gertrude Lawrence; Beverly Carlton, by playwright and renowned wit Noël Coward; and Banjo, by Harpo Marx.
Time Out London said, "It's rather unimaginatively directed, but the performers savour the sharp, sparklingly cynical dialogue with glee."
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A crusading DA persuades a clip joint "party girl" to testify against her mobster boss after her innocent sister is accidentally murdered during one of his unsavory "parties".
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The great cast mirthfully brings on the savage dialogue and relishes in the malicious nature of the satire.
Time stated, "Woolley plays Sheridan Whiteside with such vast authority and competence that it is difficult to imagine anyone else attempting it" and added, "Although there is hardly room for the rest of the cast to sandwich in much of a performance between this fattest of fat parts, Bette Davis, hair up, neuroses gone, is excellent as Woolley's lovesick secretary."
Monty Woolley was nominated for a New York Film Critics Circle Award in 1942 for Best Actor.
Woollcott was delighted with The Man Who Came to Dinner and was offered the role for its Broadway debut. With his busy schedule of radio broadcasts and lectures, he declined, and Monty Woolley played the part. Woollcott did play Whiteside in the West Coast version of the play and was even joined by Harpo Marx, who portrayed his own referenced character, Banjo.
The printed edition of the play starts with the inscription "To Alexander Woollcott, for reasons that are nobody's business."
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The Man Who Came To Dinner (1942)
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The Man Who Came to Dinner is to Christmas what Arsenic and Old Lace is to Halloween. Both are uproariously funny movies that celebrate a holiday.
Bette Davis was at the absolute peak of her career at the time she made this movie. And although she is top billed it is definitely a supporting role. Obviously she knew a great script when she read one, and ever the professional, she was more than happy to be a part of this great comedy.
"We waste our money so you don't have to."
The supporting cast of players is impressive. Billie-“are you a good witch or a bad witch”-Burke perfected the role of the dizzy housewife, Ann Sheridan plays a bitchy actress and has a great moment at the end of the movie when she gets trapped in an Egyptian sarcophagus, Jimmy Durante is a manic ball of energy with a Brooklyn accent, and Mary Wickes, who seemed to always get cast as either nurses or nuns, is great in her movie debut.
His character is unusual for the time. In an era when the Hay's Code was strongly enforced, illegal and immoral behavior always had to be punished by the film's end, but Whiteside, while not a criminal, gets to behave quite badly and get away with it. I also have to note that in one scene near the end, Ann Sheridan's nipples also flaunt the Film Production Code by making an appearance through her shirt (Sorry, but I noticed them, so I had to mention them).
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Over the course of a Christmas holiday, Whiteside infuriates his host by advising his host's grown daughter to run off with her boyfriend and her brother to run off to travel the world being a photographer. He invites a gold digging actress, Lorraine, and a Hollywood comic to visit. Made in 1942, The Man Who Came to Dinner drops lots of, then, famous names and pop culture references such as Deanna Durban, Gone With the Wind and even a phone call from Eleanor Roosevelt.
A plot point mentions actress and Broadway producer Katharine Cornell. The character Bert Jefferson writes a play, and Whiteside promises to give it to Cornell for her to star in.
Given her status at the time and her top billing, I was surprised by Bette Davis' supporting role status. I thought that because of her star power, they might try to increase the size of her part, but she seems happy to play the part of Maggie and play it well. She's one of the few actresses of that period that I can think of who could believably stand-up to Whiteside. It's no wonder he didn't want to lose her.
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A 1980 revival directed by Stephen Porter ran for 19 previews and 85 performances at the Circle in the Square Theatre. The cast included Ellis Rabb, Roderick Cook, Leonard Frey, Carrie Nye, and Jamey Sheridan. Drama Desk Award nominations went to Cook for Outstanding Featured Actor in a Play and Nye for Outstanding Featured Actress in a Play.
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One character that Eric didn't mention that I love is Miss Stanley, the sweet old maid aunt. She flits around the house showing old photographs to Sheridan Whiteside, before scampering up the stairs, she even has her own theme music. Of course she turns out to be an infamous axe murderer, ala Lizzie Borden.