Classic Cinema #27: The Man Who Came to Dinner (1942) – By Jason S. Lockard

There is something about Christmas time that I love to watch good holiday films and if they are classic even better and they don’t come much more classic than The Man who came to dinner starring our star of the Month Monty Woolley!

Monty Woolley was born Edgar Montillion Woolley August 17, 1888 in New York City to a wealthy family. Wooley received his Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees from Yale and eventually became assistant professor of English and dramatic Coach at the university. He served in World War I in the US Army as a first lieutenant in Paris.

Monty Wooley who affectionately became known as "The Beard" for his long white beard; first appeared on stage than went on to film and cameos on TV and even had his own dramatic TV play series, but in 1942 would be his greatest role in the holiday classic "The Man who came to dinner."

The Man who came to dinner is a holiday comedy that was directed by William Keighley and follows Sheriden Whiteside a snooty aristocrat who is on a cross-country lecture tour. Mrs. Stanley [Betty Davis] wife and mother of the prominent Ohio Family insists on Sheriden visiting their home he agrees. When he arrives the holier than thou man slips on the icy steps of the house and is injured and is forced to spend Christmas with The Stanley’s, something he loathes, the Holidays will never be the same again!

The Self-centered celebrity dominates the lives of all who enter the house. Sheriden encourages the Stanley children Richard and June to pursue their dream, against their father Ernest’s wishes. While their Whiteside’s assistant Maggie Cuter falls for a local newspaperman and playwright Bert Jefferson. She tells Sheriden that she is going to quit and marry Bert and asks Sheriden to show Bert’s script to his contacts. Sheriden not wanting to loose such an effective assistant does everything in his power to sabotage the romance. Sheriden ends up turning the household upside down and needs the help of his friend Bango played by Jimmy Durante.

Will the family ever rid themselves of the squatter Whiteside?! Will Maggie and Bert find happiness? Do the Stanley Children follow their dreams? All the questions are answered in the Holiday Classic The Man who came to dinner!

Monty Whooley in 1955 after completing the film, Kismet, returned to radio for about a year, after which he was forced to retire due to health issues. Woolley was nominated twice for an Academy Award, as Best Actor in 1943 for The Pied Piper and as Best Supporting Actor in 1945 for Since You Went Away. His handprints and beard were impressed in the pavement of Grauman’s Chinese Theatre in 1943. Woolley also has a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame, officially listed in the "Motion Picture" category, though his star bears the television emblem. Monty Woolley, died due to complications with kidney and heart ailments on May 6, 1963, in Albany, New York, aged 74.

So this Christmas don’t watch the endless mind numbing films on TV, instead pick up a copy of The Man that Came to Dinner and watch a true classic! Until next month this is Jason Lockard reminding you; when you want to see a good movie, check out a classic!

Moral Rating: Nothing Offensive
Audience: All Ages
Genre: Comedy
Length: 112 Minutes
Released: 1942
Our Rating: A+