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Man Who Came To Dinner (1942)

Man Who Came To Dinner (1942)

4.7 4
Director: William Keighley, Bette Davis, Ann Sheridan, Monty Woolley

Cast: William Keighley, Bette Davis, Ann Sheridan, Monty Woolley


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The George S. Kaufman/Moss Hart Broadway hit The Man Who Came to Dinner was inspired by the authors' mutual friend, waspish critic/author Alexander Woollcott. Generously bearded ex-Yale professor Monty Woolley, no mean curmudgeon himself, plays the Woollcott character,


The George S. Kaufman/Moss Hart Broadway hit The Man Who Came to Dinner was inspired by the authors' mutual friend, waspish critic/author Alexander Woollcott. Generously bearded ex-Yale professor Monty Woolley, no mean curmudgeon himself, plays the Woollcott character, here rechristened Sheridan Whiteside. While on a lecture tour in Ohio, Whiteside slips on the ice outside his hosts' home; until his broken leg heals, the hosts (Grant Mitchell and Billie Burke) are forced to put up (and put up with) the imperious Whiteside. This means enduring an unending stream of Whiteside's whims, caprices and vitriolic bon mots, as well as his long-distance phone calls, eccentric guests and a variety of critters, ranging from penguins to octopi. Like the real Woollcott, Whiteside insists upon stage-managing the lives of everyone around him. He is particularly keen on discouraging a romance between his faithful secretary Maggie Cutler (top-billed Bette Davis) and local newspaper editor Bert Jefferson (Richard Travis). Once he realizes he's gone too far in this respect, Whiteside is forced to reunite the lovers. That's only one aspect of a three-ring-circus plotline that accommodates a Lizzie Bordenish axe murderess, takeoffs of Woollcott intimates Harpo Marx, Noel Coward and Gertrude Lawrence, and a general practitioner who's willing to let his patients suffer for a chance to pitch his interminable memoirs to Whiteside. Featured in the cast are Jimmy Durante as "Banjo" (the Harpo clone), Reginald Gardiner as the Noel Coward-like Beverly Carlton, Anne Sheridan as the predatory Gertrude Lawrence counterpart Lorraine Sheldon, and Mary Wickes as the long-suffering Nurse Preen ("You have the touch of a love-starved cobra!") The script, by the Epstein brothers, manages to retain most of the play's best lines and situations, even while expanding Bette Davis' role to justify her start status; it's a shame, though, that we are robbed of Sheridan Whiteside's imperishable opening line, "I may vomit!"

Editorial Reviews

All Movie Guide - Richard Gilliam
The Man Who Came to Dinner is one of the screen's brightest comedies, with identical twin-brother screenwriters Julius J. Epstein and Philip G. Epstein giving the George S. Kaufman and Moss Hart stage classic a smooth transition to the screen. This is a prime example of an "insider" comedy that is enjoyable out of the context in which it was created. Viewers who choose to do so may enjoy reading any of several available commentaries on the film that detail the numerous inside jokes and references. Because Bette Davis was a top-billed star, her role is considerably expanded from the play. This is one of her best comic performances, as she adroitly handles even the most improbable story turns and punchy dialogue. The film, though, largely belongs to Monty Woolley as Sheridan Whiteside, the title character. His blustering, pompous manner gives the film its comic edge and yet allows those around him to have their moments to shine.

Product Details

Release Date:
Original Release:
Warner Archives
[Full Frame]
Sales rank:

Special Features

Closed Caption; 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

Related Subjects

Cast & Crew

Performance Credits
Bette Davis Maggie Cutler
Ann Sheridan Lorraine Sheldon
Monty Woolley Sheridan Whiteside
Billie Burke Mrs. Ernest Stanley
Jimmy Durante Banjo
Richard Travis Bert Jefferson
Reginald Gardiner Beverly Carlton
Elisabeth Fraser June Stanley
Grant Mitchell Mr. Ernest Stanley
George Barbier Dr. Bradley
Mary Wickes Nurse Preen
Laura Hope Crews Mrs. Gibbons
Russell Arms Richard Stanley
Ruth Vivian Harriett Stanley
Edwin Stanley John
Betty Roadman Sarah
Charles Drake Sandy
Chester Clute Mr. Gibbons
Nanette Vallon Cosette
John Ridgely Radio Man
Vera Lewis Woman
Frank Mayo Plainclothesman
Georgia Carroll Girl
Frank Coghlan Telegraph boy
Dudley Dickerson Porter
Peggy Diggins Girl
Roland Drew Reporter
Herbert Gunn Radio man
Creighton Hale Radio Man
Sam Hayes Announcer
Fred Kelsey Man
Hank Mann Expressman
Frank Moran Michaelson
Jack Mower Plainclothesman
Cliff Saum Expressman
Billy Wayne Vendor
Gig Young Bit Part
Ernie S. Adams Haggerty
Leslie Brooks Girl
Eddy Chandler Guard
Patrick McVey Harry
Alix Talton Girl

Technical Credits
William Keighley Director
Julius J. Epstein Screenwriter
Philip G. Epstein Screenwriter
Leo F. Forbstein Musical Direction/Supervision
Tony Gaudio Cinematographer
Robert M. Haas Art Director
Sam Harris Associate Producer
Frederick Hollander Score Composer
Jack Killifer Editor
Charles Lang Sound/Sound Designer
Dick Mayberry Asst. Director
Orry-Kelly Costumes/Costume Designer
Jack Saper Producer
Jerry Wald Producer
Hal B. Wallis Executive Producer
Jack L. Warner Producer
Perc Westmore Makeup

Scene Index

Disc #1 -- The Man Who Came to Dinner
1. Credits [:54]
2. Headline Accident [4:44]
3. The Great Man Emerges [5:18]
4. Blossom Girl [5:40]
5. Guests for Lunch [5:03]
6. It's an Outrage [3:20]
7. Breaking the Ice [5:20]
8. Declaration of Independence [5:41]
9. Just Lorraine's Dish [5:35]
10. Penguins on the Loose [6:28]
11. Stanley Family Matters [4:52]
12. Lorraine Arrives [5:07]
13. He Never Interferes [5:16]
14. Beverly Arrives [5:17]
15. Phone Proposal [5:36]
16. Jefferson Special [4:47]
17. Christmas Eve Chaos [4:26]
18. Not Very Merry Christmas [4:03]
19. Banjo Arrives [5:29]
20. Miss Preen Leaves [2:50]
21. Good Ship 8-Ball [6:08]
22. Mummy Case Cargo [3:48]
23. Changes in Plans [3:13]
24. Hold the Phone, Eleanor [2:43]
25. Cast List [:38]


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Man Who Came To Dinner 4.8 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 4 reviews.
Hugo-Z-Hackenbush More than 1 year ago
This was originally a play, and watching the movie you realise just how great this must have been live. Monty Woolley is the houseguest who won't leave. He's a mixture of Zero Mostel, Phil Silvers and Caligula.
Everyone else is in a supporting role, they can't help it. Woolley plays the Nations most respected radio personality/writer/egomaniac. He injures his hip, is confined to a wheelchair and then becomes even more of a pain. Along with Bette Davis, the cast includes an octopus and four penguins. I kid you not.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Bette Davis is obviously the big name actor in the movie, but she gracefully defers to Monty Woolley as the star, and he shoulders the burden admirably. "The Man Who Came to Dinner" is one of those movies that appears to have been adapted from a stage play: the dialogue is delivered rapid-fire and is a bit too witty to be natural. None of that detracts from the charm of this movie, however. The script is clever enough to carry any cast, but oh, what a cast for the old movie buff! Watch and enjoy as Jimmy Durante puts in a charming turn, antagonizing a charmingly wicked Ann Sheridan. Turn this movie on and hang on for a fast, very fun, rapid ride.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago