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Once Upon a Time In Hollywood
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There are elements of The Man Who Came to Dinner that I feel like I should hate. I mean the central conceit of the story is that an overbearing man slips-and-falls on the porch of a suburban home, and begins to wreck the lives of everyone in that home and everyone else who comes in contact with him. This shockingly selfish and unpleasant character is tough to watch, but I still found some humor in how over-the-top things got. At a certain point you can’t help but laugh at how mean-spirited he behaves, and how much it frazzles and irritates everyone else. It’s not as if the movie is asking us to like Sheridan Whiteside, in fact we’re supposed to see him as the antagonist most of the way through. It still made me a bit uncomfortable at times, because he was ruining some people’s lives. In fact, in certain cases it never got resolved at all. Perhaps the most annoying part was simply the destruction brought upon the Stanley family themselves as they were hosting this parasite. They never seem to get any compensation for their suffering. Luckily, I wasn’t tortured by frustration from start to finish, because there were lighter moments and a handful of satisfying resolutions at the end. Bette Davis gave an odd performance in The Man Who Came to Dinner. I’ll admit, she needed to be a strong and resilient character in order to be convincing. She is constantly witnessing the abuse her boss doles out, and has to take some of that abuse herself. However, I expected more of a softening in her personality when she’s falling in love. I didn’t sense that, instead she always felt cold and uncaring, to the point that I wasn’t buying into her heartbreak at the end. Anne Sheridan on the other hand was delightfully expressive. I loved the melodramatic nature of that character, and how she was manipulated by others around her. It was fun seeing Jimmy Durante pop up in the final act, even if he felt like a strange late addition to the story that needed more setup earlier in the film. One other thing that I appreciated, but they could have done more with was the fact that it all took place around Christmas. There are certainly Christmas trees around, we see presents, and one of the climactic moments is a Christmas radio broadcast, but it still didn’t feel all that “Christmassy” (for lack of a better term.) The Man Who Came to Dinner is definitely a funny film with some good laugh out loud moments, but it was missing a few things to go down as a classic that I’ll watch regularly.
It would be hard to top a classic like this. This play had a very successful run on Broadway, and although they looked for Hollywood actors to play Sheridan Whiteside, they couldn't find any who could keep up with the quick, witty, urbane dialog, and had to turn to the man who had performed for years in this role on Broadway, Monty Wooley.
What we get is lots of action with a purpose. Wooley is always barking orders and others learn to love him or hate him. The pace is quick, and the wit and charm of the play carry over nicely to the large screen.
Although Bette Davis is quite good in her role, this is Monty Wooley's movie and it is refreshing to see her take a subservient role to the production in order to make it the legend it has become.
The best comedy movie ever made!
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.
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.
Pompous and callous without any overall redeeming quality. Slight moments of witty dialogue do not make up for such a lack of charm.
Upbeat, fast-paced, amusing comedy set around the Christmas season
The good writing make the one liners priceless despite the weak plot. This was my favorite Durante film yet.
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.
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.