The Man Who Came to Dinner Reviews

Page 1 of 6
Super Reviewer
May 7, 2011
Regular folks run headlong into crazy eccentric celebrity when a radio star (Wooley,raucously unbridled) convalesces in small town Ohio. Ann Sheridan plays the bad girl, Bette Davis, and Bette Davis plays Ann Sheridan, the good girl, and then they fight ... talk about love!
Super Reviewer
September 5, 2010
A very funny movie, but I didn't get to see the end, I want to watch it again sometime.
Mr Awesome
Super Reviewer
½ January 2, 2010
When celebrity personality and generally unpleasant Sheridan Whiteside stops by to have dinner with a family of wealthy socialites and falls and hurts himself on their front steps, he winds up having to stay for far longer than just an evenings dinner and makes a great nuisance of himself. Mr. Whiteside's assistant (Bette Davis) winds up falling in love with the local newspaper reporter and the diabolical Whiteside tries to concoct a way to keep her in his employ. Based on the 1939 play by Kaufman and Hart, The Man Who Comes to Dinner is a biting look at the world of celebrity elitism, and is fairly relevant today. Monty Woolley plays Whiteside as a boss from hell, straight from The Devil Wears Prada, which I'm sure drew heavily from this film. Bette Davis and Ann Sheridan play against type, or that is they're playing each others roles, take your pick (Davis plays the sweet girl, Sheridan plays the tough broad). The appearance of Jimmy Durante is a bit of a surpise, contrasting the quick verbal exchanges earlier in the film for his schtick-loaded goofiness. Durante also takes the film in a hokey direction, plot-wise (Jimmy Durante is a very odd looking man that modern viewers might find off-putting). However, these are minor quibbles for a film that has nothing major going for it to begin with. It's not a terribly hilarious film, but it is amusing.
jjnxn
Super Reviewer
½ April 6, 2008
Amusing trifle with the great Ann Sheridan stealing the show as an egocentric STAR!
Super Reviewer
October 26, 2009
Director William Keighley brought another Kaufman and Hart stage play to the screen in early 1942. This time it was adapted by the Epstein brothers. I have read the play and this screenplay remains fairly faithful to the original. Sheridan Whiteside (Woolley) is based on Alexander Woollcott and three of Sherry's friends who come to visit are based on real people too. Diva Lorraine Sheldon (again Sheridan) is based on Gertrude Lawrence, British Beverly Carlton (Gardiner) is based on Noel Coward, and crazy comedian Banjo (Durante) is based on Harpo Marx. They are not pure imitations, but very funny creations by the three actors. For a bit more modern reference, Sheridan Whiteside is kind of how I imagine an older Orson Welles was, or kind of like the character Frasier. Sherry despises Midwestern suburban-ism. It has been arranged that he stop in a small Ohio town on a public relations tour. Mr. and Mrs. Stanley (Mitchell and Burke) have won the opportunity to have this celebrity dine with them. Even though the town is not very small and the Stanleys are not backward, it is torture for Sheridan Whiteside to be confined to their house after he injures his hip slipping on ice on their front porch. Sherry is full of insults, schemes and name dropping, and he is hilarious. The dialog is so sharp. Maggie Cutler (Davis) is Sherry's secretary and the only person who can trade insults with him as an equal. Maggie is given a bit more focus, while the Stanley's butler and cook are reduced a bit in the story. It is great to see Bette Davis in a light comedic role. I can't say I'm a big fan of hers based on the limited dramatic roles I've seen her play, but it is nice to see she can be romantic and playful and funny. Maggie falls for local newspaper man Bert Jefferson (Travis) who also finds a way into Sherry's good graces by showing he can come back with some true wit, that is until Sherry jealously decides Jefferson shouldn't steal Maggie away. How will Sherry's scheme unravel? How much of the local craziness can Sherry stand (um, excuse me, sit through in his wheelchair)? How much of Sherry's impositions can the Stanleys tolerate? This is a great screwball comedy with a large ensemble cast.
poohtiger
Super Reviewer
September 3, 2009
Manic classic comedy with a lots of star power. When the world famous writer and lecturer Sheridan Whiteside (Monty Woolley) breaks his leg while visiting the home of a prominent Ohio family, he must stay there to recuperate. The family at first is estatic to have him stay until they realize what an over-bearing and pompous windbag he really his. Joining him is his personal assistant Maggie Cutler (a subdued Bette Davis). In between frustrating the head of the family, Sheridan, or Sherry as most everyone calls him, must also contend with a newspaper man who is trying to get an interview. The man and Maggie promptly fall in love and Maggie tells Sherry she is leaving him. That won't do so Sherry calls his favorite actress Lorraine Sheldon (a fabulous Ann Sheridan) to come there and break up the happy couple. There are laughs galore in this film and its at a pretty good clip too. Monty Woolley is outstanding in his role as Sherry. He may be hard to deal with it but in the end he will eventually start warming up to others. It's unusual seeing Ms. Davis in a role like this. I mean she has done comedy before and well, but here she is very low key. There are times she kinda fades into the background and is over powered by Ann Sheridan's character. Davis is still good here but I wish during her confronatation scene with Sheridan she was allowed to let loose. In the meantime Ann Sheridan has an absolute great time as Lorraine, trading wisecracks with Sherry and slinging insults to everyone else. Jimmy Durante pops by for a cameo towards the end and he gets a few laughs. The very funny Billie Burke is also on hand as the mother of the put upon family. The Man Who Came To DInner is a solid comedy which I thoroughly enjoyed.
-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Sheridan Whiteside: [opening a box of candy] Ah, pecan butternut fudge!
Nurse Preen: Oh, my, you mustn't eat candy, Mr. Whiteside, it's very bad for you.
Sheridan Whiteside: My great aunt Jennifer ate a whole box of candy every day of her life. She lived to be 102 and when she'd been dead three days she looked better than you do *now!*
neffielee
Super Reviewer
½ August 22, 2009
A fast-paced, chaotic, mad-cap comedy with witty dialogue. Monty Woolley is positively brilliant with his sharp tongue which varies from condescending flattery to flat-out insults. Ann Sheridan, Jimmy Durante, and Reginald Gardiner are superb in their brief appearances, and, of course, Bette Davis shines. Lots of fun!
littlecharmer1959
Super Reviewer
July 11, 2008
A very funny film with Bette Davis taking a backseat role. Monty Wooley is brilliant as the sarcastic lecturer Sheridan Whiteside. Admitingly some of the jokes may seem a little dated today but this still a very good film with great dialogue.
½ December 13, 2011
Solid screwball comedy. Bette Davis feels miscast as the (a) love interest; there's something so cold about her even when she is trying to play light and warm-hearted.
½ June 20, 2009
Fantastic romantic comedy, with an incredible cast. Monty Woolley is remarkable in the lead title role, Bette Davis is great in a surprising supporting role, Mary Wickes is hysterical as the nurse, and Ann Sheridan has a great supporting role as the actress. She is wonderful. Thoroughly delightful. Well written.
July 31, 2009
comedy glorious comedy. another brilliant adaptation of Kaufman & Hart finery. there seemed to be a couple noticeable plot holes and some of the editing was a bit choppy, but otherwise this is an absolutely fantastic film. a great cast with great timing is important, and everyone from Bette Davis to Mary Wickes nailed it perfectly. sort of a 'Dinner at Eight' meets 'You Can't Take It With You'--hilarious.
December 24, 2014
It's not funny and it's not much of a holiday movie either. It takes place during the holiday season, but you won't find the spirit of Christmas here. The story is actually kind of an unpleasant one with the main character faking an injury and pulling off a scheme. I found it disappointing and boring. (First and only viewing - 12/24/2014)
April 19, 2014
TO DO REVIEW

Monty Wooley brilliantly delivers the Groucho-like insults penned with supreme wit by the Marxian play and film write. Kaufman, of course, co-wrote many of the Marx's best works and was a good friend of Harpo, upon whom the character "Banjo" is based.
The entire cast is brilliant save for Richard Travis who, while not distractingly bad, is somewhat outclassed by the likes of Bette Davis, Billie Burke, Mary Wickes, and Reginald Gardiner.

The film lasts for nearly two hours and seldom lets the viewer up for air. This is a film that you may have to see several times to notice every clever line or plot development. And since it was originally a play, most of it takes place in one room. That being the living room of the put-upon Ohio businessman and his brow-beaten family. Along the way, Whiteside begins meddling in the lives of others, as well. He practically incites a rebellion by the couple's teenage children. He comes up with more insults than one can count for his nurse. And some of the funniest moments deal with an aging doctor attempting to get Whiteside to look at his manuscript about his profession. Many famous people appear and are referred to throughout the film. Most of the pop culture references are really dated, but not so much that it really bogs the film down. The acting is wonderful. Jimmy Durante and Ann Sheridan liven things up in support. The film is rather smug in how it was written by and about famous people who obviously look down on normal Midwestern folk. But the humor is harmless, and all too enjoyable.

The Man Who Came to Dinner is a little uneven, but it's mostly entertaining. The unevenness comes mainly from the dullness of the budding relationship which the film holds in focus. The original play is very well written, especially the dialogue. It was actually performed at my high school when I was there. But its the cast here that excels. Monty Woolley is great in the titular role. He plays Sheridan Whiteside to absolute perfection. Bette Davis is quite good as his secretary, but the role is actually somewhat below her standards. I'm sure she took the role because she loved the play so much and was sure it'd be a hit, but that role is pretty dull. Ann Sheridan perhaps gives the film's most memorable performance as an egotistical Hollywood diva who's not sure whether she wants to marry British nobility for money or just chase around cute guys. Also noteworthy are Billie Burke as Mrs. Stanley, the Ohio society woman who invites Whiteside to dinner, Reginald Gardiner as an eloquent celebrity friend of Whiteside (far underused), and the incredibly insane Jimmy Durante as Banjo. He comes into the film very late, but he very nearly steals the show.
August 27, 2013
It truly is surprising that a film as intelligent as "The Man Who Came to Dinner" isn't as highly ranked as other comedies of the era, such as "Ball of Fire" or "His Girl Friday." It could be because it's a little long, or that Monty Woolley today isn't a celebrated movie star, but even so, this is a comedy too unnaturally witty and vicious to be forgettable.  While there are moments that drag, and Woolley's shtick gets a little tiring by the end, the film is so one-of-a-kind (seriously) and ingenious that there's a lot to appreciate, and of course, laugh at.
The man who comes to dinner is Sheridan Whiteside (Wolley). He is a radio personality, and has been invited by Daisy and Ernest Stanley (Billie Burke and Grant Mitchell), a wealthy family. But just as he arrives at their lovely home, he slips on their icy steps, breaking his hip. Once inside, he announces he's going to sue them; so begins the plight of his intolerable personality.
Once he arrives, he never leaves because his is apparently too weak. Whiteside is demanding, rude, selfish, and gifted with a tongue dipped in acid. He makes nearly everyone in the house miserable, and he effectively ruins the Stanley's Christmas. Whiteside is truly an awful man which makes you question: how would I react if an annoying dinner guest never left?
"The Man Who Came to Dinner" shockingly isn't a Bette Davis vehicle, or a ploy for Ann Sheridan to show off her sexiness as always.  Instead, Davis is put into a secondary role (which works out smoothly) and Sheridan gets to show off her impeccable comedic timing rather than be an object.  Instead, this is Monty Woolley's show, and there isn't a second where you can't help but smile at how well he delivers his wicked lines, with true conviction and larger-than-life volume.
He says things as cruel as "My great-aunt Jennifer ate a whole box of candy every day of her life. She lived to be 102.  When she'd been dead three days, she still looked better than you do now." But he gets away with it, maybe because his character has the talent to whip out spectacularly mean lines so quickly that it catches people off guard or they're mesmerized by his insane wit. Truly, he is a guest from hell, and Woolley obviously enjoys getting to portray someone so wacko.
The screenplay is extremely well-written; it's not only funny, but it is well-balanced.  When you have a character as over-the-top as Sheridan Whiteside, it's not hard to have him take over the film.  Yet he doesn't get the chance, because each individual character has snappy qualities that make them just as interesting.  Just seeing their reactions to the terrible man that came to dinner makes watching them worthwhile.  Their are many phenomenal supporting performances to include: of course Davis and Sheridan are excellent, but any second Billie Burke's ditzy character arrives on the scene or Mary Wickes (Nurse Preen) shrieks at Whiteside's latest trouble, it isn't hard to get a good chuckle.  And Jimmy Durante stops by in a scene-stealing moment as Whiteside's obnoxious friend Banjo.
The extraordinary satire and sharp comedic timing by its actors make "The Man Who Came to Dinner" worth a watch.  Maybe even more than one, because there's so much going on that it's hard to notice everything.
July 9, 2012
i laughed from start to finish during "the man who came to dinner". so many great one liners, as well as a hilarious scene stealing performance from monty woolley.
January 15, 2012
They don't make 'em like this anymore. The jokes are fast, furious and very pointy, including some great zingers by Bette Davis. who looks quite young and beautiful. I got a great kick out of Billie Burke's every appearance due to her distinctive Glinda the Good Witch voice, it was great! And I bet none of you have ever even seen Jimmy Durante before, who injects the old vaudville flavor into his appearance.

This is fast, furious, madcap and really hilarious! The man who you all have seen as Kris Kringle in Miracle on 34th Street (Monty Woolley is amazing as the nasty author/critic Sheridan Whiteside. Some of the topical humor will pass you by if you are younger than 55, say, but if you are literate the Noel Coward character (Beverly) and of course the main protagonist Sheridan Whiteside is based on witty, cranky Alexander Woollcott.

I greatly enjoyed seeing the great character actress Mary Wickes in her very first movie. She plays the nurse who can barely deal with Mr. Whiteside. You don't know her name, but when you see her you will recognize her!

You can watch this over and over and laugh at new things every single time.
December 18, 2011
This was a nice holiday film. Bette Davis is very subdued comparatively. Billie Burke is great as is Ann Sheridan.
May 29, 2007
Bette Davis takes away from this. This isn't about HER, it's about Monty Wooley...or at least it should be.
February 25, 2011
One of my all-time favorite Xmas flix. Watch it every year.
Mr Awesome
Super Reviewer
½ January 2, 2010
When celebrity personality and generally unpleasant Sheridan Whiteside stops by to have dinner with a family of wealthy socialites and falls and hurts himself on their front steps, he winds up having to stay for far longer than just an evenings dinner and makes a great nuisance of himself. Mr. Whiteside's assistant (Bette Davis) winds up falling in love with the local newspaper reporter and the diabolical Whiteside tries to concoct a way to keep her in his employ. Based on the 1939 play by Kaufman and Hart, The Man Who Comes to Dinner is a biting look at the world of celebrity elitism, and is fairly relevant today. Monty Woolley plays Whiteside as a boss from hell, straight from The Devil Wears Prada, which I'm sure drew heavily from this film. Bette Davis and Ann Sheridan play against type, or that is they're playing each others roles, take your pick (Davis plays the sweet girl, Sheridan plays the tough broad). The appearance of Jimmy Durante is a bit of a surpise, contrasting the quick verbal exchanges earlier in the film for his schtick-loaded goofiness. Durante also takes the film in a hokey direction, plot-wise (Jimmy Durante is a very odd looking man that modern viewers might find off-putting). However, these are minor quibbles for a film that has nothing major going for it to begin with. It's not a terribly hilarious film, but it is amusing.
Page 1 of 6