Tuesday, 11 January 2011

The Man Who Came To Dinner (1942)

Jimmy Durante has been having me in hysterics for the past few days. He is just so crazy that I just watch open-mouthed as he puts into practice what must be a PHD in slapstick comedy, or at least 30 years of experience as a comic madman.

Banjo: "So I borrowed the B19 from The Army, and I'm on my way to Nova Scotia!"
Sheridan: "What on earth do you want to go to Nova Scotia for?"
Banjo: "I'm sick of Hollywoood and there's a dame in New York I don't wanna see. So I figured I'd go to Nova Scotia... and buy some SMOLKED SALMON :-D!!!!!"
Banjo: "Whiteside, I'm here to spend Christmas wid ya... I think. I may stay a month, or I may leave immediately. I dunno...*Tosses piano music* Everytin's so uncertain."
Banjo: "Shhhh. I brought you a very special present. This sweater was once worn by Lana Turner. Try it on for size."
This clip comes from the movie The Man Who Came To Dinner (1942) which I watched the other day and enjoyed immensely.

The Man Who Came To Dinner
(I'm sorry for the vague plot summary, the bug I have has rendered me practically creatively useless. If you want to read the whole plot, you can read it here.)
Esteemed writer and lecturer, Sheridan Whiteside is travelling to Ohio to do a lecture. He has been invited to dinner by a well respected family in the area along with his trusted secretary Maggie Cutler, but he is very reluctant. He slips on their front steps on the ice and is confined to a wheelchair. With nowhere else to be taken in, the Stanley's take him under their wing. His overpoweringly sarcastic attitude drives everyone to distraction, and his elephantine ego offends more than a few people. Maggie finds herself falling in love with the lovely newspaper man Bert Jefferson, but Whiteside, being the troublemaker he is, tries to break it up by asking his actress friend Lorraine Sheldon to come and stay. As if this all wasn't enough, deliveries for Mr. Whiteside keep arriving at at door, but not just normal deliveries. Octopuses (when the octopus arrives, the first thing Sheridan says is, "Perfect! Now I'll have someone intelligent to talk to in the evenings."), penguins (during his live Christmas broadcast his nurse runs into the recording room and screams "OOOOWWWW!!!!! A penguin bit me!" As you do...), and a baby seal.

The Review:
Without exception, every performance is spot on. from Billy Burke's Mrs. Stanley, to Monty Woolley's Sheridan Whiteside. Bette Davis gives a refreshingly relaxed performance in which she uses a strange laugh, like, "Hmmnnn... Hmmmnaaahmmmmhmmm." She also talks whilst eating a sweet potato and ice-skates, which are both firsts. But, it's not her performance you remember, it's Monty Woolley and Ann Sheridan. Monty Woolley is so cynical that I laugh at most of the things he says, which is good, or it would just seem horrible. Ann Sheridan plays Whiteside's glamourous  friend who ends up being carted off in an Egyptian sarcophagus to Nova Scotia with Banjo (Jimmy Durante) where he intends to "fill it up with smoked salmon and send it back to ya [Whiteside]!" the film isn't particularly imaginatively directed, but it doesn't matter. One of the funniest films I have seen since The Odd Couple.

I found some hilarious GIFs of Rosalind Russel in The Women from Tumblr (they were found on stardust-melody's tumblr log). I Hope they work!



Classic Film and TV Cafe said...

Bette, Monty Woolley is awesome this film! It's probably his best role, though I'm also fond of him in THE BISHOP'S WIFE.

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