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The Man Who Came To Dinner Review


OK
The Man Who Came to Dinner has traveled a long way: from stage (1939) to screen (1942) and then down through the decades to DVD, where we find it today. While this classic of erudite yet zany comedy still sparkles at times, the long trip has dulled some of its shine. What may have cracked people up way back then (references to ZaSu Pitts, calf's foot jelly, Katherine Cornell, long-distance operators, and Noel Coward) will leave today's audiences scratching their heads. Best to wait for the slapstick moments while imbibing on martinis.

George S. Kaufman and Moss Hart were master comic playwrights, and like You Can't Take It With You, The Man Who Came to Dinner is basically a drawing-room farce that spins more and more out of control as 20 or so main characters bounce off each other, hurl insults ("You flea-bitten Cleopatra!") and make wisecracks. At the center of the action is crusty old Sheridan Whiteside (Monty Woolley), a curmudgeonly New York critic (based on Alexander Woollcott, who starred in the show on Broadway) who breaks his leg while on tour in a provincial Ohio town. Taking up residence with the well-to-do and very flustered Mr. and Mrs. Stanley (Grant Mitchell and Billie Burke), he quickly makes their house his own, commandeering their telephone and their butler while his secretary Maggie (a blousy Bette Davis) and his nurse (Mary Wickes) scurry around catering to his every obnoxious whim.

Continue reading: The Man Who Came To Dinner Review

The Man Who Came To Dinner Review


OK
The Man Who Came to Dinner has traveled a long way: from stage (1939) to screen (1942) and then down through the decades to DVD, where we find it today. While this classic of erudite yet zany comedy still sparkles at times, the long trip has dulled some of its shine. What may have cracked people up way back then (references to ZaSu Pitts, calf's foot jelly, Katherine Cornell, long-distance operators, and Noel Coward) will leave today's audiences scratching their heads. Best to wait for the slapstick moments while imbibing on martinis.

George S. Kaufman and Moss Hart were master comic playwrights, and like You Can't Take It With You, The Man Who Came to Dinner is basically a drawing-room farce that spins more and more out of control as 20 or so main characters bounce off each other, hurl insults ("You flea-bitten Cleopatra!") and make wisecracks. At the center of the action is crusty old Sheridan Whiteside (Monty Woolley), a curmudgeonly New York critic (based on Alexander Woollcott, who starred in the show on Broadway) who breaks his leg while on tour in a provincial Ohio town. Taking up residence with the well-to-do and very flustered Mr. and Mrs. Stanley (Grant Mitchell and Billie Burke), he quickly makes their house his own, commandeering their telephone and their butler while his secretary Maggie (a blousy Bette Davis) and his nurse (Mary Wickes) scurry around catering to his every obnoxious whim.

Continue reading: The Man Who Came To Dinner Review

The Barkleys Of Broadway Review


OK
Ten years after what everyone assumed would be Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers' last joint venture, they reunited for a final time. Unfortunately the result is a tepid Technicolor musical with little to recommend it aside from its historical value. The story is barely worth mentioning: Backstage histrionics surrounding a pair of Broadway theatricals and their power play. The dancing isn't much more noteworthy, mainly recycled Gershwin tunes that have been put to better effect in other films -- including ones starring this famous duo.

The Wizard Of Oz Review


Essential
The Wizard of Oz is a classic film from an era when American studios were confident and breaking ground (within the discipline imposed by the Hays Office). Stuffed with now-amiliar tropes -- the yellow brick road, the wicked witch, the emerald city -- and a supply of often-quoted lines, famous songs, and gags, the film is probably as entertaining now as it was in 1939.

Oz was groundbreaking in a number of ways, most obviously in its visual impact. Movies in color had been made for a while, but most films in 1939 were still in black and white, so the gimmick of beginning in B&W and shifting to Technicolor was very effective. Some of the special effects were advanced at the time (and are still one of the movie's strengths). One of the most famous sequences, the tornado which sweeps across the farm fields, was created by filming a windsock being blown around by electric fans. It's more realistic and believable than the computer-generated tornadoes in the movie Twister, made 57 years later. That's progress.

Continue reading: The Wizard Of Oz Review

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Billie Burke Movies

The Man Who Came to Dinner Movie Review

The Man Who Came to Dinner Movie Review

The Man Who Came to Dinner has traveled a long way: from stage (1939) to...

The Man Who Came to Dinner Movie Review

The Man Who Came to Dinner Movie Review

The Man Who Came to Dinner has traveled a long way: from stage (1939) to...

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