Saturday, July 31, 2010

TV FLASHBACK : THE MAN WHO CAME TO DINNER .... 1972.

NBC
Presents
A Hallmark Hall Of Fame Presentation.

THE MAN WHO CAME TO DINNER ..
Starring
ORSON WELLES as Sheridan Whiteside
JOAN COLLINS as Lorraine Sheldon
LEE REMICK as Maggie Cutler
DON KNOTTS as DR Bradley
PETER HASKELL as Bert Jefferson
MARY WICKES as Nurse Preen
MARTY FELDMAN as Banjo
MICHAEL GOUGH as Beverly Carlton
 .........................................................
JOAN as LORRAINE Calls Sheridan


LORRAINE tries to keep her chin up as Sheridan rambles on!

When international orator Sheridan Whiteside accepts an invitation to dinner with the Stanley's, a prominent Ohio family, the scene is set for upheavel of the highest order! Whiteside slips on some ice approaching their house and apparently breaks his leg, thus threatening a lawsuit. With Whiteside, is his faithful but tolerant secretary Maggie Cutler, who sparks up a friendship with local newspaper editor Bert Jefferson, to the annoyance of Whiteside, who is now confined to a wheelchair and decides to upset the whole household for devilment and fun! When the doctor calls and tells him his leg is fine, the old goat bribes him to say otherwise, so he can continue with his mischief making! Into the scene comes sex-pot actress Lorraine Sheldon, who is more than a match for Whiteside and the fun and games really begin, with the family regretting inviting - The Man Who Came To Dinner!!
 This 1972 TV production, although set in America, this was filmed in England by ATV as part of the long running "Hallmark Hall Of Fame" strand of movies and specials, which first appeared on American television at Christmas 1951 with the opera, " Amahl and the Night Visitors", and by 1955 it began it's regular series of 90 to 120 minutes movies/specials... 
JOAN puts the finishing touches to LORRAINE
LORRAINE makes her entrance


"The Man Who Came To Dinner" first appeared on the Broadway stage in 1939 and was written by the legendary duo of George S Kaufman & Moss Hart, as a comedy in three acts. Orson Welles heads the cast in this production and he claimed to have been offered the role of Sheridan in both the stage version and the now classic 1942 film. But he rejected them and Monty Wooley played the part in both. Welles commented that he was glad he had not done either, of the film he said it was "Awful".. Joan was asked to play the role of Lorraine Sheldon by director Buzz Kulik, whom she knew since they worked together on the David Janssen thriller "Warning Shot"... Joan was delighted to take the role as a wonderful cast was assembled. However much as she was delighted to be working with the legendary Welles, she was also in awe of his great presence. However as Joan recalled, Orson was not the easiest to work with..
Hotline to JOAN!
JOAN on set
" Orson and I were rehearsing one scene which included a longish speech, which he had to preform to me. I was standing on my correct mark when all of a sudden he ended the speech with ... ' I cant read the rest of the lines because Miss Collins is standing in front of the damn cue cards!'
I was mortified! 'But I am standing where I am supposed to be!'
It was pointless arguing as Orson was the star and made sure everyone knew it, even poor Don Knotts had his best scenes cut, as not to upstage the great Welles!"
JOAN on set
The cast rehearsed for three weeks and Orson insisted on reading all his lines from large cue cards which two students from RADA had to hold up for ages..Welles was also fond of red wine as he consumed endless cups of the stuff..Taping of the show was slated to last only three days but as Welles was difficult and still consuming the red wine even during taping, the shoot lasted almost six days. Joan was delighted when Kitty Carlisle paid a visit to the set and told her how she loved Joan's performance as Lorraine and she had seen every actress who played the part since it's original run from Carol Goodner in 1939 to Ann Sheridan in 1942 and other over the years... Actress Mary Wickes who plays Nurse Preen, also appeared in the original stage version and the film playing the same character...
DON KNOTTS barely gets a look in as JOAN is overcome by ORSON'S presence!
Although the production has a stagey feel, the excellent cast makes it an interesting view and Joan is in sparkling form as the selfish, vain Lorraine, with the late Lee Remick as Maggie, the complete opposite in temperament to the vampish Miss Sheldon.... Probably not screened in many years, but worth seeking out if you can find a copy!! 

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