Monday, December 21, 2009

The Man Who Came to Dinner (1942)

I suppose this could be seen as a Christmas movie, since Christmas does occur during the film and it's all snowy and whatnot. But it has Bette Davis, so it doesn't really matter.

Anyway, the film stars Monty Wooley as Sheridan Whiteside a famous critic well-known for his wit and acid-tongued comments. When Sheridan is visiting The Stanleys, a well-to-do Ohio family, he trips on the stairs and hurts himself, and the doctor orders him to rest. Under threat of lawsuit, the Stanleys take him in and he takes over the household. Bette Davis co-stars as Maggie Cutler, Sheridan's secretary who begins a romance with a local writer.

The film is good for three reasons. Monty Wooley, who reprises his role from the Broadway play and delights in delivering the horrible snide and wicked insults that his character spews. The script, which provides him with the necessarily amount of venom with which to spew, and for Bette Davis who delivers a rare comedic performance. Granted, as I said in The Bride Came C.O.D. Bette Davis has the great quality of being able to play comedy straight, which works here as she allows Monty Wooley to cram in as many barbs as he can while she remains unflappable and devoted.

The film has a strong cast with excellent supporting performances, particularly Ann Sheridan as an actress friend of Sheridan's and Billie Burke playing a role almost identical to her role in Dinner at Eight, playing an overworked and anxious housewife.

This is a fun movie that revels in wit and nastyness (which may be off putting for some), but for others it can serve as a dash of spice to any sort of Christmas movie marathon, cutting through the treacle that is usually found during the holiday.

Up next, I'll most likely talk about Christmas in Connecticut. Alright, kids? Behave yourselves now.

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