The Man Who Came to Dinner (1942)

G  |   |  Comedy, Romance  |  24 January 1942 (USA)
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Ratings: 7.7/10 from 4,763 users  
Reviews: 72 user | 23 critic

When acerbic critic Sheridan Whiteside slips on the front steps of a provincial Ohio businessman's home and breaks his hip, he and his entourage take over the house indefinitely.



(screen play), (screen play), 2 more credits »
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Airs Sun. Dec. 06, 10:00 AM on TCM

1 nomination. See more awards »



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Cast overview, first billed only:
Elisabeth Fraser ...
George Barbier ...
Russell Arms ...
Ruth Vivian ...
Edwin Stanley ...
Betty Roadman ...


Lecturer Sheridan Whiteside slips on the ice on his way into the home of a prominent Ohio family. The local doctor 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 and resumes control of the household. Written by Ed Stephan <>

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


Warner Bros. Happiest Hit. (Lobby cards). See more »


Comedy | Romance


G | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:





Release Date:

24 January 1942 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

El hombre que vino a cenar  »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

(RCA Sound System)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
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Did You Know?


The authors asked Alexander Woollcott if he would like to play the part of Whiteside when the play opened on Broadway. He declined. The authors then approached Monty Woolley, who at that time was a professor at Yale. They wrote him "would it amuse you to play the part of Whiteside?" to which Woolley replied "it would amuse everyone." See more »


At one point in the film, Maggie Cutler goes to the window and comments on the snow falling outside. The falling snow is clearly visible outside the window. Then the camera goes to a medium shot, with all the windows visible, but from this angle, no snow is seen to be falling whatsoever. See more »


Maggie Cutler: Sherry, the next time you do NOT want to see anybody, just let me know, and I'll usher them right in.
See more »


Version of The Man Who Came to Dinner (2000) See more »


Did You Ever Have the Feeling That You Wanted to Go?
Written and Performed by Jimmy Durante
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User Reviews

1942 Bette Davis a Subdued Secretary in a Comedy
18 October 2007 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

Screenwriters Moss Hart & George S. Kaufmann created this hilarious story based upon the personas of playwright Noel Coward, film critic Alexander Woollcott, and theater actress Gertrude Lawrence. It became a Broadway hit, then this box-office sensation. Bette Davis convinced Warner Brothers to make this film.

When "The Man Who Came To Dinner," Sheridan Whiteside (Monty Woolley), an eccentric author & radio lecturer, & his secretary, Maggie Cutler (Bette Davis), arrive at the home of a prominent Ohio family, the Stanleys, Whiteside injures his leg, slipping at his hosts' entrance. After a doctor (George Barbier) tells Whiteside that his leg is broken & he can't leave, the eccentric guest who had only come to dinner wreaks havoc by meddling in everyone else's lives in a proper family's home! Whiteside is especially bent upon keeping Maggie (Davis) unmarried & employed as his secretary who manages all of his life affairs. She's fallen in love, wants to marry & leave her job. Whiteside even bribes the doctor to remain silent after learning nothing's wrong with his leg! When Mr. Stanley uncovers their fraud, Whiteside blackmails him by holding an old family secret over his head. Though, Whiteside's plot to keep Maggie doesn't fool her, it is the central comedy performance of the movie.

Maggie Cutler (Davis) is a perfect foil for Whiteside (Woolley). Her original role was not as central in the stage play. It was expanded for film. Playing a secretary is the only time during Davis' golden 40's period in Hollywood when she accepted a supporting role. However, Davis was billed first in order to make the movie box-office hit. It's a delightful Christmas comedy.

Here's a typical exchange between 'Sheri' & Maggie: Sheridan Whiteside: I simply will not sit down to dinner with Midwestern barbarians, I think too highly of my digestive system.

Maggie Cutler: Harry Clarke is one of your oldest friends.

Sheridan Whiteside: My stomach is an older one.

Maggie Cutler: And Mrs. Stanley is President of the women's club.

Sheridan Whiteside: I wouldn't care if she was the whole cabinet.

Banjo (Jimmy Durante) delivers some memorable comical one-liners, as well.

20 of 33 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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