Monty Whoolly plays Sheridan Whiteside, a famous radio personality who is on a cross-country lecturing tour. His secretary Maggie, played by Bette Davis, arranges for him to dine at the home of a prominent Ohio family. Sheridan slips on the icy entrance of the Stanley's home and injures his hip. He is forced to recuperate in their home, and that is when the hilarity starts.
Sheridan takes over the whole house, and everyone in it. He has to broadcast his yearly Christmas Special from the Stanley's home. He makes expensive long distant phone calls, he receives a crate of penguins as a gift, and invites convicts from the local prison to lunch. And all the while, he threatens to sue the Stanely's for his injury if they complain about any of his actions.
Meanwhile, Maggie falls in love with the Bert Jefferson (Richard Travis), the local newspaper man. Sheridan catches wind of this and tries to break it up by calling in the beautiful Miss Lorraine Sheldon played by Ann Sheridan. He has no intention of training a new secretary.
The screenplay by Juilius and Philip G. Epstein is based on the 1939 play by Moss Hart and George S. Kaufman. The dialogue is so fast paced and filled with references of that time, that you have to watch the movie a couple of times to catch everything.
Maggie is so upset by Sheridan's interference in her love life that she quits. Sheridan realizes that he has gone too far this time and asks for help from his friend Banjo (played by Jimmy Durante).
They trap Lorraine in a sarcophagus, one of many unusual Christmas gifts that have arrived for Sheridan. Banjo takes off to Nova Scotia with it, promising to send it back filled with fish for Sheridan.
Maggie and Bert get back together. Sheridan's hip heals and he is just leaving the Stanley's home, when he slips on the way out and inures himself again!