"I think you’re a selfish, petty egomaniac."
Description: Personal appraisal of Maggie Cutler (Bette Davis) of her pompous boss Sheridan “Sheri” Whiteside (Monty Woolley) in the movie picture The Man Who Came to Dinner (1941).
Sheridan Whiteside is an eccentric, egotistical radio personality on a winter lecture tour in a small town of Mesalia, Ohio. When he is invited to dine at the home of Ernest and Daisy Stanley (Grant Mitchell and Billie Burke), a prominent Ohio family, he refuses at first, saying, "I simply will not sit down to dinner with midwestern barbarians, I think too highly of my digestive system." He soon relents, but as he enters their home, he slips on their icy front door steps and injures his hip. Unable to move, the doctor confines him to bed rest and he soon becomes an unwelcome house guest during the Christmas holiday season.
Assisted by his secretary Maggie Cutler, Sheridan takes over the household, running up long distance phone charges, threatening to sue the Stanley's if the try to evict him, and meddling in the lives of everyone he meets. When Whiteside realizes he is no longer disabled, he continues to fake his injury so he can continue to have his way with his captive audience.
During their stay at the Stanley home, Maggie falls in love with Bertram H. 'Bert' Jefferson (Richard Travis), a local newspaper man, but Sheridan does his best to nix the romance, not wanting to lose such an indispensable worker. He goes so far at to deter Bert's interest in Maggie, by saying "This ageing debutante, Mr. Jefferson, I retain in my employ only because she is the sole support of her two-headed brother!"
Maggie eventually tires of Sheridan's selfish ways and drops her guard to confess:
“I wish I had a laugh left in me. Shall I tell you something Sheri? I think you’re a selfish, petty egomaniac who would just as soon see his mother burning at the stake if that was the only way he had of lighting a cigarette. I think you’d sacrifice your best friend without a moment’s hesitation if he interrupted the sacred ritual of your self-centered, paltry life. I think you’re incapable of any emotion higher up than your stomach and I was a fool of the world for ever trusting you.”
Maggie also says, "You know, Sheridan, you have one great advantage over everyone else in the world. You've never had to meet Sheridan Whiteside."
Another one of many persons who dislike Sheridan Whiteside is his long-suffering private nurse Miss Preen (Mary Wickes) who is responsible for attending to his needs. The acid-tongued Sheridan offers the nurse only words of disdain, such as, "Go in and read the life of Florence Nightingale and learn how unfitted you are for your chosen profession."
When Nurse Preen catches Whiteside opening a box of candy to snack on pecan butternut fudge, she advises "Oh, my, you mustn't eat candy, Mr. Whiteside, it's very bad for you." Frustrated with her interference, Sheridan replies, "My great aunt Jennifer ate a whole box of candy every day of her life. She lived to be 102 and when she'd been dead three days she looked better than you do NOW!"
Tired of Whiteside's obnoxious behavior, Nurse Preen decides to quit, but not before saying:
"I am not only walking out on this case, Mr. Whiteside, I am leaving the nursing profession. I became a nurse because all my life, ever since I was a little girl, I was filled with the idea of serving a suffering humanity. After one month with you , Mr. Whiteside, I am going to work in a munitions factory. From now on , anything I can do to help exterminate the human race will fill me with the greatest of pleasure. If Florence Nightingale had ever nursed YOU, Mr. Whiteside, she would have married Jack the Ripper instead of founding the Red Cross!"
In the end, Mr. Stanley realizes that Sheridan has been "faking" his injuries and demands that he leave his home at once. Whiteside agrees to go, but before he does, Sheridan blesses the union of Maggie and Bert and blackmails Stanley into allowing his children to follow their dreams or he will reveal Stanley's sister Harriet's past as an infamous axe murderess.
Sadly for the Stanley's, as Sheridan Whiteside finally leaves their home, he slips on their steps again and must be taken back inside to recover from his new injury.