The Man Who Came to Dinner (1942) - Plot Summary Poster


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  • 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.

  • 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.

  • While noted acerbic wit, cultural critic, and egotistical radio personality Sheridan Whiteside is on a lecture tour in a small provincial town in Ohio, he condescends to have dinner at the house of dizzy matron Daisy Stanley, wife of a local conservative businessman. Whiteside slips and falls on their front steps, breaking his hip and forcing him to recuperate in their house. He immediately takes over the entire household with a combination of threats, intimidation, and acid-tongued wit, exiling the Stanleys to the second floor. He holds court in the living room for his wide circle of friends, runs up staggering long-distance bills to world leaders, monopolizes the Stanley servants, and populates the house with a menagerie of exotic animals. Unfortunately for the demanding Whiteside, Maggie Cutler, his trusted secretary and indispensable girl Friday, has fallen in love with a local newspaper man. Although he is pronounced well and free to leave by the local doctor, Sherry feigns his infirmity in order to find away to keep Maggie with him.

  • In the lead up to Christmas, famed New York-based national radio host and general man about town Sheridan Whiteside is on a national speaking tour, traveling by train, the schedule for him to make it to Los Angeles in time for his traditional Christmas Eve broadcast. Despite his beloved public image, he is a difficult, acerbic-tongued man who always needs to get his own way, he using his bluster often to get it. His longtime faithful secretary, spinster Maggie Cutler, is arguably the only person who can handle him when he gets on his tirades, she who in turn uses her own straightforward manner to control him for her own needs in getting her job done. As such, he hates to admit that he considers her indispensable. Sherry has disdain for this tour if only needing to kowtow to all the, what he considers, backward yokels, especially through Middle America, those living in their first stop, Mesalia, Ohio, being no exception, there where he is to have dinner with the town's leading family, the Stanleys, upon arriving. It is on the Stanleys' icy front steps that Sherry slips, falls and ends up being incapacitated, temporarily wheelchair-bound. In return for not suing the Stanleys, Sherry, with Maggie in tow, ends up staying at the Stanley house until he is able enough to continue with his travels, he overtaking the Stanley house with his usual bluster in the process. The situation is much to the consternation of the family patriarch, Ernest Stanley, who doesn't care about Sherry's celebrity in comparison to the disruption he is to their lives. By the time Sherry has fully recuperated, Maggie has fallen in love with Bert Jefferson, the town's newspaper man and an aspiring playwright, and wants to give up her life with Sherry to become Mrs. Bert Jefferson. Sherry doesn't feel he can afford to lose Maggie, and concocts a plan to keep her in his employ, especially as he truly but mistakenly believes that Maggie is suffering from puppy love and not true love and will snap out of it once out of Bert's life. The plan includes Sherry not telling anyone that he has recovered, he miraculously doing so at the plan's completion, and using the somewhat unwitting assistance of his successful actress friend, Lorraine Sheldon, a diva and status-hungry woman who is to use her charms and professional sway on Bert.

  • Sheridan Whiteside, an eccentric and acid-tongued radio lecturer, is disabled on the doorstep of a prominent Ohio family and must remain confined to the unwilling family's home for a few days. Discovering what he believes to be problems within the household, hatches a plot to fix all of the household's problems. Sheridan ("Sherry") then proceeds to find out that his leg is fine so he bribes the doctor to declare him unfit to leave for a few weeks so he can meddle with the lives of the members of the household. But has he made a mistake?


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