The Man Who Came to Dinner - Movie Reviews - Rotten Tomatoes

The Man Who Came to Dinner Reviews

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March 4, 2018
No one in this film is tolerable. At no point did I care for any of them. What a load of crap. Utterly pompous and lacking in charm. Only Davis' performance is worth viewing. No film made me despise mid Atlantic accents more. It gets better toward the end. This truly may be the best performance by Davis I've seen. But it can't save the film.
December 20, 2017
This is my favorite Christmas movie! It is a time capsule of the early 1940's with all the then sophistication the public could handle. This is one of the "nicest" roles Bette Davis ever played on screen. This is a classic.
½ December 17, 2017
I have always loved Monte Woolley and this is his best film with a wonderful script by Kaufman and Hart and a stellar cast. This film is a perennial favorite of mine that has kept its sparkle year after year and watch after watch.
½ December 15, 2017
Pompous and callous without any overall redeeming quality. Slight moments of witty dialogue do not make up for such a lack of charm.
June 20, 2017
Upbeat, fast-paced, amusing comedy set around the Christmas season
May 4, 2017
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)
½ December 28, 2016
The good writing make the one liners priceless despite the weak plot. This was my favorite Durante film yet.
August 16, 2016
Although Monty Wooley is not billed first, he's the star and this stage play role he plays requires presence, which he certainly has here. There's some good humour here, nothing at belly-laugh level, more raised smiles.
July 17, 2016
[8/10] -- Despite a few pop culture reference hiccups here and there, "The Man Who Came To Dinner" maintains a stunningly sophisticated sense of humor that transcends the test of time. Spearheaded by the bitingly sarcastic, fantastically witty titular performance from Monty Woolley, the film easily ranks up against some of the best screwball comedies I've ever seen. If only more comedies nowadays - and from this era - contained the sheer comedic diversity as this overlooked gem.
December 10, 2015
"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 for three days, she looked better than you do now!"

The Man Who Came to Dinner is one of the greatest comedy scripts in theater history, filled with drop-dead lines like this. The role of Sheridan Whiteside was modeled after Alexander Woollcott, a charter member of the Algonquin Round Table, a running literary salon of the greatest wits of their day. This movie is one of the few relics of this golden age of cutthroat chitchat. For all the talent that whiled away their days at the Algonquin, amazing little of lasting literary merit has come down from it. Dorothy Parker, Robert Benchley, Alexander Woollcott, Franklin Adams, Heywood Broun - the most notorious wits of their day. Name something any of them wrote. If you're very well-versed, you may know the title of a short story or two, but mostly, they are best known for the one-liners that emerged out of stories of their hanging out at the Algonquin.

Happily, George Kaufman and Moss Hart managed to write this tribute to the biting humor of this generation of wits. The Algonquin Round Table was a vital link in the development of American comedy, from Mark Twain through to Lenny Bruce and Mort Sahl, and one needs to understand it to understand American humor.

Monty Woolley crushed the role of Sheridan Whiteside on Broadway, and the wonder of the movie version is that they bothered looking for anyone else to play the role before they settled on him again.

Bette Davis isn't exactly miscast as Maggie Cutler. It's more that she's overqualified for it. IMDb trivia tells me that Jean Arthur and Myrna Loy were considered for the role. I wouldn't say that they would have been better in the role, but they probably would have made more sense.

The tough role in the play is the part of Banjo, which was modeled after Harpo Marx, and played by Jimmy Durante. Of course, Durante looks and sounds like no one but Durante. But I would be very curious to see some effort to portray the real-life Harpo Marx. Certainly he didn't act like his on-screen persona, but he was certainly capable of physical insanity, combined with the verbal wit of which he was by all accounts also fully capable.
August 31, 2015
When you say comedy, this just has to be on the list. Mr Whiteside is a big time cynic who comes to have dinner with Mr Stanley & his family, but the Stanley's had the least gratitude for the ice that made Mr whiteside slip & break his hip. Instead of attending only a dinner, he takes over a part of the house to camp in while he heals. To attend to him 24hrs is his nurse whom he never spares a sarcastic comment. *the best ever*! His stay brings along more people & more trouble for the stanleys. Mr Whiteside supports the kids to pursue their dreams that their parents had not allowed. To top it all off, even the exotic pets have a place to stay. Mr Stanley keeps boiling for a good reason, waiting for the day that Mr Whiteside would recover, but luck barely sides him!!!! :) Its definitely 100 mins of tumbling over with laughter!
August 28, 2015
Hilarious and witty dialogue in a screenplay that is based on a stage play and the great acting by the whole cast is what makes this picture a standout. Monty Wooley, Bette Davis, and Ann Sheridan are particularly noteworthy in this picture, but the whole cast is great. The real life story behind the inspiration for this play and therefore this film adaptation is just as amusing as the film.
½ August 27, 2015
A brilliantly crafted Christmas film, that isn't necessarily about Christmas.
½ November 15, 2014
Screenwriters Moss Hart & George S. Kaufmann created this hilarious story based upon the personas of playwright Noel Coward, film critic Alexander Woollcott, and theater actress Gertrude Lawrence. It became a Broadway hit, then this box-office sensation. Bette Davis convinced Warner Brothers to make this film... Delicious Sarcastic Wit 1940s Style--Christmas punch with a splash, nay, double-shot of arsenic... An evergreen classic of comedic brilliance!!
April 22, 2014

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.
December 25, 2012
A quick and snappy script. A cast of characters with impressive credits. A wonderful classic film. It will draw you in over and over.
December 21, 2012
a delightful version of a popular stage play
December 17, 2012
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!*
½ August 12, 2012
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.
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