Frank Coghlan Jr. (Telegraph Boy) and Vera Lewis are in studio records/casting call lists for this movie, but they did not appear or were not identifiable.
The Smiths song "Cemetry Gates" quotes directly from this movie: specifically from the scene when Ann Sheridan recites dramatic lines next to the mummy. "Loves and hates, and passions just like mine."
After Banjo repeats the "Harriet Stanley took an ax and gave her mother 40 whacks" poem first recited by Whiteside, he jokes, "The Dodgers could have used her." This is likely a reference to the recently completed 1941 World Series, in which the Brooklyn Dodgers were defeated by the New York Yankees, 4 games to 1.
The original Broadway production of "The Man Who Came to Dinner" by Moss Hart and George S. Kaufman opened at the Music Box Theater on October 16, 1939 and ran for 739 performances.
Mary Wickes, one of only two members of the original Broadway cast in the film version (with Monty Woolley), makes her screen debut. She also carried the role in the 1972 TV version.
The role of Maggie is reportedly base on Algonquin Round Table member Dorothy Parker.
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."
Moss Hart and George S. Kaufman, authors of the play from which this film was adapted, were good friends with Alexander Woollcott, a famous critic, radio personality, and lecturer at the time. Woollcott requested that they write a play FOR him, but they never came up with a plot. One day Woollcott came to visit Hart unexpectedly and turned his house upside down, taking over the master bedroom, ordering Hart's staff around and making a general nuisance of himself. When Moss Hart told George S. Kaufman of the visit, he asked, "Imagine what would have happened if he broken his leg and had to stay?" They looked at each other and knew they had a play.
This was Laura Hope Crews's final film.
The character of Lorraine Sheldon was based on Gertrude Lawrence, and the character of Beverly Carlton was based on Noel Coward.
Banjo is based on Harpo Marx. Sheridan Whiteside is based on noted theatre critic and personality Alexander Woollcott.
The poem Whiteside recites ("Harriet Stanley took an ax; gave her father forty whacks...") is - but for the name - the same as the rhyme about Lizzie Borden, who was accused of killing her father and step-mother...with an ax.
Late in December 1941, the film's world premiere was hosted by the Capitol Theatre in Paragould, Arkansas - the home town of star Richard Travis (aka Bill Justice), who had been one of the theater's employees.
Bette Davis saw "The Man Who Came to Dinner" on Broadway and immediately wanted to play the role of Maggie, the antithesis of her usual roles. She wanted the role desperately because she wanted to act opposite John Barrymore who was to play Sheridan Whiteside. At her insistence, Warner Bros. tested Barrymore for the role but his failing health and inability to remember his lines cost him the job.
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