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The Man Who Came to Dinner is a 1942 American comedy film directed by William Keighley, and starring Bette Davis, Ann Sheridan and Monty Woolley as the title character. The screenplay by Julius and Philip G. Epstein is based on the 1939 play The Man Who Came to Dinner by Moss Hart and George S. Kaufman. The supporting cast features Jimmy Durante and Billie Burke.

Plot

While passing through small-town Ohio during a cross-country lecture tour, notoriously acerbic New York radio personality Sheridan Whiteside (Monty Woolley) breaks his hip after slipping and falling on the icy steps of the house of the Stanleys (Grant Mitchell and Billie Burke), a prominent Ohio family with whom he's supposed to dine as a publicity stunt. He insists on recuperating in their home during the Christmas holidays. The overbearing, self-centered celebrity soon comes to dominate the lives of the residents and everyone else who enters the household. He encourages young adults Richard (Russell Arms) and June (Elisabeth Fraser) Stanley to pursue their dreams, much to the dismay of their conventional father Ernest.

Meanwhile, Whiteside's spinster assistant Maggie Cutler (Bette Davis) finds herself attracted to local newspaperman Bert Jefferson (Richard Travis). When she reads Bert's play, she is so impressed she asks Whiteside to show it to his contacts and then announces she will quit his employment and marry Bert. However, her boss is loath to lose such an efficient aide and does his best to sabotage the blossoming romance. He also exaggerates the effects of his injuries to be able to stay in the house. He suggests actress Lorraine Sheldon (Ann Sheridan) would be perfect for one of the leading roles, intending to have her steal Bert away from Maggie. Lorraine convinces Bert to spend time with her to fix up the play. When Maggie realizes Whiteside is behind the underhanded scheme, she quits. Somewhat chastened, Whiteside concocts a plan to get Lorraine out of the way, with the help of his friend Banjo (Jimmy Durante). They trap Lorraine in an Egyptian sarcophagus, and Banjo ships her off to Nova Scotia.

Finally fed up with Whiteside's shenanigans, insults, and unbearable personality, and realizing that he has been "faking" his injuries for quite some time, Mr. Stanley orders him to leave. Before he does, Whiteside blackmails him into allowing his children to do as they please by threatening to reveal Stanley's sister Harriet's past as an infamous axe murderess. As Whiteside departs, he falls on the icy steps again and is carried back inside, much to Stanley's consternation.

Cast

  • Bette Davis as Maggie Cutler
  • Ann Sheridan as Lorraine Sheldon
  • Monty Woolley as Sheridan Whiteside
  • Richard Travis as Bert Jefferson
  • Jimmy Durante as Banjo
  • Billie Burke as Mrs. Ernest Stanley (Daisy)
  • Reginald Gardiner as Beverly Carlton
  • Elisabeth Fraser as June Stanley
  • Grant Mitchell as Mr. Ernest Stanley
  • George Barbier as Dr. Bradley
  • Mary Wickes as Miss Preen
  • Russell Arms as Richard Stanley
  • Ruth Vivian as Harriet
  • Edwin Stanley as John
  • Betty Roadman as Sarah
  • Charles Drake as Sandy
  • Nanette Vallon as Cosette
  • John Ridgely as Radio Man
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