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Lecturer Sheridan Whiteside slips on the ice on his way into the home of a prominent Ohio family. The Dr. says Whiteside must remain confined having broken his leg. He begins to meddle with the lives of everyone in the household and, once his plots are underway, learns there is nothing wrong with his leg. He bribes the doctor. The owner discovers the fraud, but Whiteside blackmails him (he finds out that the owner's sister is an axe murderer) and resumes control. Written by
Ed Stephan <email@example.com>
Not so much a Christmas movie as it is a movie that happens to take place during the Christmas season. This 1942 farce has a rude and elitist author/lecturer/high society man falling on the icy steps of an Ohio businessman and being forced to stay in the man's home for weeks. Monty Wolley plays Sheridan Whiteside who seems to have contempt to one degree or another for everyone around him. He felt it beneath him to even be somewhere like Ohio in the first place, and he is determined to make life miserable for everyone once he is marooned there. Whiteside has a put down ready for almost everything anyone says to him. His lines of dialog pretty much range from condescending flattery to outright insults. And let it be said here, that he is almost always hilarious.
Bette Davis plays Whiteside's personal secretary who falls in love with a local newspaper man and aspiring playwright. Davis confesses her intent to settle down with the handsome young man, and this is a matter of great concern for Whiteside since he would be nearly helpless without her. Even though his injuries have healed, he continues to act as though he is confined to a wheelchair for much of the picture. And most of the plot deals with Whiteside attempting to sabotage his secretary's blossoming romance.
The film lasts for nearly two hours and seldom lets the viewer up for air. This is a film that you may have to see several times to notice every clever line or plot development. And since it was originally a play, most of it takes place in one room. That being the living room of the put-upon Ohio businessman and his brow-beaten family. Along the way, Whiteside begins meddling in the lives of others, as well. He practically incites a rebellion by the couple's teenage children. He comes up with more insults than one can count for his nurse. And some of the funniest moments deal with an aging doctor attempting to get Whiteside to look at his manuscript about his profession. Many famous people appear and are referred to throughout the film. Most of the pop culture references are really dated, but not so much that it really bogs the film down. The acting is wonderful. Jimmy Durante and Ann Sheridan liven things up in support. The film is rather smug in how it was written by and about famous people who obviously look down on normal Midwestern folk. But the humor is harmless, and all too enjoyable. 10 of 10 stars.
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