The Man Who Came to Dinner
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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.]]>
- 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
Top Customer Reviews
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.
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.Read more ›
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.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
My husband and I watch this every year at Christmastime. Smart and funny.Published 10 days ago by Lauriemo
Great hilarious movie from a time when the writing, directing and acting were held in high regard.Published 20 days ago by D. Rich
Love this movie & was so happy to find it. Transaction was perfect. Thank you.Published 3 months ago by Amazon Customer
Brilliant casting and acting. There are several "inside jokes" so that you have to be familiar with the historical period to appreciate the parody. Read morePublished 3 months ago by Dan
A classic light-hearted movie taken from a successful Broadway play... reminiscent of "Arsenic and Old Lace". Read morePublished 5 months ago by 4X4
Based on a stage play, a hilarious Christmas story of a famous speaker visiting the home of one of his society admireers. Read morePublished 7 months ago by Diana Musial
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