Sunday, September 16, 2012

Weekend Cinema Spotlight: Arsenic and Old Lace

"Arsenic and Old Lace" (1944)

I did not know what to expect when I saw Arsenic and Old Lace for the first time the other night. I do know that I was taken for a wild ride and saw Cary Grant in a way that I had never seen him before. He was his suave and charismatic self but he was also incredibly goofy and funny. Actually I thought he must have had a blast with his role as "Mortimer Brewster", because it really looked like fun to play him.

"Arsenic and Old Lace" was originally a play until Frank Capra directed it in 1941 but it wasn't released until 1944. Joining Grant in the cast were the Brewster sisters (his aunts in the film) played by Josephine Hull and Jean Adair. Hull and Adair, as well as John Alexander who plays "Teddy Roosevelt" were reprising their roles from the 1941 stage production. 

Grant hiding from reporters while trying to get a marriage certificate/Hull and Adair as the 
Brewster Sisters-the kind, misguided, and beloved aunts of Mortimer's (Grant)

The film begins with Mortimer (Grant) and his fiancee Elaine, played by Priscilla Lane, on line trying to get a marriage license. Mortimer is a known and famous bachelor so he fears news getting out of his marriage. Honestly the first fifteen minutes of this film got me hooked! Grant was so animated that I was just glued to the screen!

Grant's goofy and funny faces in this film are halarious!

This spotlight is a wee bit tricky to write because I truly don't want to spoil the fun for you if you were to see this film (it is currently on Netflix). I hope viewing the photos above gives you an inkling of what sort of zaniness you will find while watching.

Mortimer is faced with two seemingly innocent and sweet aunts who involve themselves in a head spinning extracurricular activity. All the while attempting to commit one brother to the insane asylum and trying to survive the wrath of another brother. In the midst of this madness, poor Elaine is trying to run off with her husband to their honeymoon but doesn't understand why he is pushing her away or being mysterious.

My favorite bit of the movie was the very end with the cabdriver. I was left in stitches! Basically you realize everyone is just a little crazy, even the cabby!! 

This film was pure joy to watch-I enjoyed seeing Grant in something very different than his usual roles. As well as seeing a film that was so well written and filled with great humor as well as lots of insanity...hehe



  1. I would love to see this film! I've been looking for a copy of it on DVD for ages - and I think I'll have to keep looking cause we don't have Netflix in Australia...

    Thanks for not spoiling it by giving too much away Bunny :)

  2. I'm going to have to check this film out:)) Thanks for the review:))

  3. This is one of my favorite old movies. So funny and creepy at the same time. The bit where the crazy brother would charge the stairs with his horn cracked me up.

    1. Hehehe that bit cracked me up to-what a zany film!! xox

  4. The name alone has always made this one of my favourite classic films, but I also adore it for the same reason you did. It's so awesome to see a great (amazing!) actor like Cary venture out of his usual roles and successfully pull of a more lighthearted, comedic film like this. I'm going to go see if Netflix (Canada - the selection of old movies is rather slim, let me tell you!) has this, you've totally got me wanting to watch it again!

    ♥ Jessica

  5. I did not get a chance to read this blog yet, but is high on my list. But before I forget I want to ask you if you ever saw 2 of my very favorite Cary Grant movies, "The Awful Truth" (1937) & Bring Up Baby (1938) both films are directed by the great Howard Hawks. They are funny as can be, both of them!

  6. I read it now! Yikes I forgot to add that Arsenic and Old Lace is one of both my favorite plays as well as films. You are so right! Cary Grant was terrific in it. But so was everybody else. It is one of those films that hits all the right notes and comes together so beautifully you could just cry. BUT you cannot becauses this film leaves you in stitches from laughing so hard. I think it was so much much to see Jack Carson (who plays the cop) early in his career, and Raymond Massey (plays the bad brother) in the film as well. Another utterly delightful film by the one and only Frank Capra. TCM (Turner Classic Movies) plays this film every now and again.


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