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

The Man Who Came to Dinner Reviews

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January 14, 2012
Great classic comedy, and one of Bette Davis' best roles, in my opinion. Great viewing anytime, including Christmas. One of our family favorites!
December 18, 2011
This was a nice holiday film. Bette Davis is very subdued comparatively. Billie Burke is great as is Ann Sheridan.
½ November 14, 2011
Funny, sweet movie! Only Bette Davis and Maggie Cutler could put up with someone as cantankerous as Sheridan Whiteside!
May 21, 2011
Bette Davis takes away from this. This isn't about HER, it's about Monty Wooley...or at least it should be.
Super Reviewer
May 14, 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!
February 25, 2011
One of my all-time favorite Xmas flix. Watch it every year.
January 16, 2011
American classic with a farfetched plot, yet filled with memorable thighslapping moments. Monty Woolley reprises his stage role and delivers a barrage of acerbic zingers and over-enunciated insults with such obvious gleeful relish that brings a lot of the life to this film.

Also notable is Bette Davis, who plays an almost polar opposite from her usual parts: a straightforward, non-nonsense career girl (not to mention a secondary part, not something she would usually agree to, but she actively lobbied to get this part, after having seen the stage version). Her acting is surprisingly moderate, leaving out her neuroses and clipped speech & grand gesturing. Possibly her most downplayed role, it's the right choice for this particular part, but I prefer my Davis neurotic and with something a bit more challenging to do.
November 28, 2010
This is one of the wittiest movies I have seen. Excellent dialog throughout. A must see!
November 13, 2010
One fun moment after another with an all star cast and each of them in rare form. Holds up well even today and a highly recommeded classic film with lots of laughs.
½ October 20, 2010
"Form follows function" is not just a principle that applies to architecture but something that makes everything legitimate and well-designed. The shape or tone of something should be mainly anchored in its idea or meaning, for the most part, right? Well, The Man Who Came to Dinner is an account of one of surely countless similar episodes in the life of the biggest douchebag in the history of cinema, actually probably in the history of all vaginal cleaning agents. Whatever they were using before douche, he still outranks it. That's fine. If you have a character you fully develop, give presence and make a movie about, I'm there! Many of my favorite films center around less than sympathetic characters, but none of them work via the presumption that I must like him. This remarkably snooty romp seeks to lionize a character so vain and contemptible, and spend all of its energies on surefire formulas for farce, so that we don't stop to think about anything the script doesn't want us to.

Everything accelerates with one contrivance after another, what with a boys' choir, an Egyptian mummy, a flock of penguins. The cast relishes the incisive, brightly sneering dialogue with delight, but it's only Bette Davis, in the sole straight part, who manages to overcome the common air of laugh-begging despair. The movie grovels for laughs while striving for the wittiest way to say any and everything that's said. And Davis and the rest of the cast don't serve the story so much as anchor it in our associations with the familiar faces and names, as well as graceful comportment and transatlantic accents. The film strains itself over impeccable form to compensate for its flimsy, snooty, cloying function.

The pacing is not as rhythmic as it would like to think it is. This whole movie likes to think, and would especially like us to think, that it's a quick-witted, razor-sharp farce in the classic Hawksian or Capra-esquire sense. It doesn't really want us to care about elements and characters it's just placed to add bulk around what it has truly designed for us to care about, which is Bette Davis' love interest and how her controlling boss prevents her marriage to the Ohio newspaperman. Nearly every other character, no matter how significant the conflict is that they're presented with, is forcibly marginalized for the remainder only to be resolved in a hurry at the end. But it's OK because we're effectively engaged in the quandary between Davis and her giant douche of a boss. The trick is that we're not supposed to think about much outside of that.

My earliest ventures in thinking about movies, not just watching them, not just putting them on and looking at them, showed me that thinking has much to do with keeping experiences alive long enough to take something away from them, making them valuable ones. Thinking may bring to light distressing realities or produce dead ends, but its real purpose is to strengthen an idea, to increase our connection to a subject by strengthening its value in our minds. In this way, thinking gives life some character and linkage, a narrative characteristic, as if our ideas, prompted by unembarrassed interest, were running through our minds like movies! A light-hearted movie is one thing, but a movie that disregards the expectation that its audience would like to actually sink its teeth into it is another.
Super Reviewer
October 11, 2010
A very funny movie, but I didn't get to see the end, I want to watch it again sometime.
April 9, 2010
It's a bit dated, and I didn't care for the guy who played Whiteside and I really hated Banjo. I lost interest about halfway through.
January 19, 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.
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.
½ January 1, 2010
Brilliant the first time around. Had a harder time appreciating the old man Sheridan's skuldugary this time. He's such an ungrateful, self-centered curmudgeon! Guess the actor did his job. However, there is one of my favorite cameos of all time by Jimmy Durante in this film. See it for that alone.
½ December 29, 2009
The original "guest from hell" comedy. Monty Woolley plays Sheridan Whiteside as the original aging queen in a snit with no apologies, and we all get in on the joke. Bette Davis doesn't chew the scenery for once, and plays the sympathetic, much put-upon secretary really well. There's a chemistry between Woolley and Davis that is tactile; you really believe these two have been working together for decades, and it's their relationship that carries the movie. The supporting cast are all suited to their roles: Ann Sheridan as Lorraine Sheldon, the actress with more a reputation for her exploits offstage than on; Reginald Gardinier as Beverly Carlton, a sendup of Noel Coward; Jimmy Durante as the frenetic Banjo, modeled on Harpo Marx; Billie Burke, Mary Wickes and Richard Travis all fit their roles like a glove. This just works like clockwork, and if all the jokes haven't aged well, they'll at least make you smile. It's not a Christmas movie, but it's set at that time of the year, and I've seen Christmas films that didn't give me a fraction of the enjoyment that this one does.
½ December 25, 2009
Fun, funny and wonderfully literate. Would LOVE to see it on the stage.
December 21, 2009
This is one of the best comedies Bette Davis ever did, and the one movie (besides "Since You Went Away") that Monty Woolley will be remembered for in years to come. He does so well as a rude, snobbish, highly sophisticated radio personality, you almost think that's actually how he would have acted had you met him in person. Superb movie.
December 19, 2009
I loved this movie until Jimmy Durante's character came on board- god, he was annoying. Of course Bette Davis was awesome!
December 19, 2009
Enjoyable, with a witty storyline. However, having compared it to the play put on by my high school, it falls short.
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