Man Who Came to Dinner [1942]

Nathan Lane practically explodes with bile as Sheridan Whiteside, a tyrannical radio celebrity who has been trapped in a Midwestern household by an injured hip. Whiteside rails entertainingly at the quavering family he's stuck with, but the play really kicks into motion when Whiteside's secretary, the only person who can stand to work with him, falls in love with a local newspaperman, forcing Whiteside to hatch a scheme to keep her by his side. Expertly crafted by Moss Hart and George S. Kaufman, The Man Who Came to Dinner zooms along. Lane (The Birdcage, Mouse Hunt) plays the part with his personality cranked up to 11--he rattles off each sneering barb with acid bombast. The production was originally broadcast live from Broadway, which gives it a genuine crackle of energy. Natasha Richardson and Liam Neeson act as hosts, providing some historical background to this classic comedy. --Bret Fetzer

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