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The Man Who Came to Dinner

4.6 out of 5 stars 180 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Product Description

Man Who Came To Dinner, The (DVD)

Famed author Sheridan Whiteside possesses a tongue dipped in venom and a brain that can crack The New York Times crossword in four minutes. On a lecture tour in Ohio, he slips on the ice and is confined to the home of a bourgeois couple. He proceeds to plunge the household into chaos, ruling the place like a czar and meddling in everyone's love life. Monty Woolley reprises his Broadway triumph as the imperious Whiteside in this delightful, lightning-paced farce. A who's who of Hollywood talents portray a who's who of thinly veiled real-life luminaries, ranging from Gertrude Lawrence to Harpo Marx. And Bette Davis shines in an uncharacteristic role as Whiteside's unflappable secretary. The Man Who Came to Dinner: It's a feast of wit and sophistication.


A legendary Broadway tour de force comes to the screen with Monty Woolley's central performance in The Man Who Came to Dinner. And it's a turn well worth immortalizing. All goatish beard, snapping teeth, and plummy-voiced put-downs, Woolley fully inhabits the role of Sheridan Whiteside, a celebrated author and radio celebrity who gets waylaid by a cracked hip during a visit to small-town Ohio. Bossing the helpless homeowners and bewildered staff from his wheelchair, he quickly fills his hosts' house with his projects (including four penguins) and famous visitors (Ann Sheridan as a self-centered diva, Jimmy Durante as a comedian based on Harpo Marx). Bette Davis goes for a quieter role than usual as Whiteside's assistant; she falls for a local newspaperman, drippily played by Richard Travis. They all revolve around the seated figure of Woolley, his hands drumming on his armrests, his teeth bared as though ready to devour his inferiors. He's delicious. The script is larded with topical references and Broadway-style repartee, not all of which has aged well, and director William Keighley doesn't have a clear grasp of how to shoot jokes. But the basic situation is so durable, and Whiteside's character (based on famed Algonquin Round Table wit Alexander Woollcott) so unusual and nasty, that the movie remains great fun. --Robert Horton

Special Features

  • New featurette: "The Man Who Came to Dinner: Inside a Classic Comedy"
  • Vintage Joe McDoakes comedy short: "So You Think You Need Glasses"
  • Classic cartoon: "Six Hits and a Miss"
  • Theatrical trailer

Product Details

  • Actors: Bette Davis, Monty Woolley, Ann Sheridan, Jimmy Durante, Billie Burke
  • Directors: Richard L. Bare, William Keighley, Jean Negulesco
  • Format: Full Screen, Closed-captioned, NTSC, Subtitled
  • Language: English (Dolby Digital 1.0)
  • Subtitles: English, Spanish, French
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated:
    Not Rated
  • Studio: Warner Home Video
  • DVD Release Date: May 30, 2006
  • Run Time: 113 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (180 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B000EU1Q1S
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #12,086 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "The Man Who Came to Dinner" on IMDb

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: DVD
Nurse: You shouldn't eat chocolates, Mr. Whiteside. They're bad for you.
Whiteside: My great aunt Jennifer ate a box of candy every day of her life. She lived to be 102, and when she had been dead three days she looked better than you do now.

Based on the stage hit by Kaufman/Hart and adapted for the screen by Julius and Philip Epstein (who also did some thing called "Casablanca"), "The Man Who Came to Dinner" may be one of the ten funniest pictures ever made. In a thinly disguised caricature of Alexander Woolcott, Monty Woolley is Sheridan Whiteside, an acerbic New York critic and lecturer who breaks a leg while in a small town and is forced to live temporarily with an uptight local couple (Grant Mitchell and Billie Burke) who aren't at all pleased about their new guest. Whiteside proceeds to take over the house, move in his secretary (Bette Davis), endlessly berate his nurse (Mary Wickes), re-direct the lives of the couple's children, have all manner of visitors, and generally reek havoc.

Some knowledge of the literary and theatrical figures of the 30's and 40's helps in appreciating all the in-jokes, but even without that foreknowledge this is still a hilarious film. Woolley was reprising his role from Broadway, and he so dominates the proceedings that Davis, at the height of her powers and popularity, is almost superfluous. Guest appearances by Ann Sheridan and Jimmy Durante (a veiled interpretation of Harpo Marx) liven up the stagey interpretation, and there's an uninteresting subplot about Davis and the local reporter, but for the most part it's Woolley's show. Hart and Kaufman had both worked with the Marx Brothers, and it shows: The script is an endless string of stinging one-liners and retorts. For anyone who enjoys classic comedies, this is not to be missed.
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Format: VHS Tape
Monty Woolley led the kind of life that could have been filmed as fascinating biography. Born into New York wealth, he was the silver-spooned son of the owner of Manhattan's Bristol Hotel. When it came time for Woolley to attend college it was no surprise that he went to Yale, and when he switched schools it was anything but a surprise that he also attended Harvard, only to return later to the New Haven campus to become a professor of English.
Woolley always was attracted to acting, and started the Yale Drama Club while at Old Eli. His best friend at Yale was another silver spooner, the Indianan Cole Porter. The great songwriter helped jump start Woolley's acting career by using his impressive contact list.
Since Woolley was a character performer and highly distinct type with his aristocratic New York accent, which, in the manner of Franklin Delano Roosevelt, had a quasi-British sound, he was not as easy to place as authentic leading man types such as a Jimmy Stewart or John Wayne, but eventually the right role came along and Woolley's career soared, after which he would never look back. The comedy writing team of George S. Kaufman and Moss Hart found him the ideal role as the pompous broadcaster-literary critic Sheridan Whiteside in what became a resounding Broadway hit, "The Man Who Came to Dinner." It was so successful that the term became accepted in the American vernacular as someone who overstays his welcome. The role was modeled after the articulate and insufferably egomaniacal New York literary critic Alexander Wollcott.
Thankfully, when it came time to cast the film version of the acclaimed play Woolley did not become victimized as have so many great performers who popularized roles on Broadway, and was named to star.
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Format: DVD
The film version of Kaufman and Hart's hit Broadway comedy "The Man who Came to Dinner" is a first rate Warner Brother's production of 1941. While Monty Woolley gets third billing to Bette Davis and Ann Sheridan, clearly for box office reasons, the film centres around his ferrocious performance based on Alexander Woollcott.

The story is simple. An egocentric celebrity arrives in a small town in Ohio, fractures his hip on the icy steps outside the house of one of the town's emminent citizens, threatens to sue and moves in to recuperate. In doing so, he takes over the household with his entourage and the film follows the resultant mayhem. The film has an ensemble cast supporting Woolley and everyone has their moment. There are endless references to the "in crowd" of 1941 and the film requires numerous viewings to pick up all the one liners because the jokes are fast and furious. The direction is featureless and the film is static but it is the dialogue which counts so the unimaginative direction doesn't really matter.

Davis takes a supporting role as Woolley's secretary and demonstrates her claim that she did NOT always have to take centre stage if the script was good. She is funny and sardonic and in her romantic scenes, nobody could be as relaxed and comfortable as she was on the screen, almost convincing us that such a sophisticated woman could fall for a hick newspaper man, the handsome Richard Travis. Ann Sheridan is tart, sexy and devastatingly attractive as Lorraine Sheldon, said to be based on Gertrude Lawrence. She was filming "King's Row" at the same time and always said she did not care about this film because King's Row was much more important. Nevertheless, she certainly enhanced her stardom with this hilarious performance.
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