Rent Arsenic and Old Lace (1944)

3.8 of 5 from 165 ratings
1h 54min
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Cary Grant and a stellar cast romp through this classic farce based on Joseph Kesselrings 1941 Broadway hit and breezily directed by Frank Capra. Frazzled drama critic Mortimer Brewster (Grant) has two aunts (Josephine Hull and Jean Adair) who ply lonely geezers with poisoned libations, one sociopathic brother (Raymond Massey) who looks like Boris Karloff, one bonkers brother (John Alexander) who thinks he's Teddy Roosevelt, one impatient new bride (Priscilla Lane)and only one night to make it turn out all right.
In this circus center ring is Grant, twisting his face into a clown's gallery of flabbergasted reactions and transforming his natural athletic grace into a rubber-legged comic ballet. Youll die laughing.
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Jack L. Warner
Julius J. Epstein, Philip G. Epstein, Joseph Kesselring
Classics, Comedy
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Release Date:
Run Time:
114 minutes
English Dolby Digital 1.0 Mono, French Dolby Digital 1.0 Mono, Italian Dolby Digital 1.0 Mono
Arabic, Bulgarian, Dutch, English, English Hard of Hearing, French, German, Italian, Italian Hard of Hearing, Portuguese, Romanian, Spanish
DVD Regions:
Region 2
Aspect Ratio:
Full Screen 1.33:1 / 4:3
B & W
  • Theatrical Trailer
Release Date:
Not released
Run Time:
116 minutes

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Reviews (2) of Arsenic and Old Lace

They don't make them like this anymore... - Arsenic and Old Lace review by CP Customer

Spoiler Alert

It's virtually impossible to give a brief description of this film, but to put the film in a nutshell, after the previously cynical Mortimer (Cary Grant) gets married, he goes to break the news to his seemingly normal Aunts (Josphine Hull and Jean Adair) From this point on his life quickly spirals out of control when he finds out about his Aunts’ charity; they mercifully kill lonely old men and bury them in the cellar. He frantically tries to resolve the situation but is hindered by thirteen dead bodies, a crazy uncle who thinks he's President Roosevelt, a nervous plastic surgeon, a Boris Karloff look-alike, a very patient taxi driver and a psychiatrist.

This screwball/black comedy may be a bit dated to today’s audiences however in my opinion there are few comedies that can beat this one. Everything is perfect; Cary Grant’s frantic performance is simply brilliant his comic timing is absolutely perfect and the whole cast is brilliantly directed by the marvellous Frank Capra

Overall, this film is hysterically funny, perfect family entertainment!

4 out of 4 members found this review helpful.

Pure Farce. - Arsenic and Old Lace review by Steve

Spoiler Alert

Breathless farce which is completely unlike any other Frank Capra comedy. There is no inspiring underdog here, it's pure comic mayhem. Mortimer Brewster (Cary Grant) gets married. So it was a bad day to discover his two dotty aunts are serial killers who bury their victims in the cellar of their spacious New York guest house.

There are slamming doors, hidden bodies, unexpected guests and a vicar. So it's a proper farce. The best moments are a bit more subtle and reference Brewster's job as a famous theatre critic. The key gag is that Brewster's entire family suffers from hereditary insanity, implying drama critics are also nuts.

It all gets exponentially more frantic until in the last act...  when Cary Grant, the greatest ever comedy actor, is reduced one basic function; the double take. It's overkill. Grant performs with complete abandon. He deserves credit for being a sport, but he's too classy for this. The support comes off better, especially Josephine Hull and Jean Adair as the batty spinsters.

On Broadway, Boris Karloff played Brewster's sinister brother who has cosmetic surgery which leaves him looking like... Boris Karloff. Sadly he wasn't cast and Raymond Massey stood in. The film is fun and there are a lot of uncomplicated laughs. It's rated a classic Hollywood comedy but rarely gets mentioned among Capra's best films. Which is fair enough.

0 out of 0 members found this review helpful.

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