Phillip Duggan (sparhawk2k) wrote in celluloidraving,
Phillip Duggan

Arsenic And Old Lace (1944) ... 9.5/10


A wonderful film with the one and only Archibald Leach� Er, I mean Cary Grant. And now that I've made fun of his name I can move on.

While Grant actually liked this movie least of all out of everything he did, I feel it's going to turn out to be one of my favorites. I can understand where he is coming from in that much of the acting was over the top and exaggerated, especially his. But I'm sure that came from the director, Frank Capra, not himself. And in the end I think the film turned out better that way and I really did get used to it quickly. Considering the topic (Murder) and considering the time it was made (Wartime) the only way you could possibly pull of a comedy with this storyline was to go a bit wacky and Frank Capra knew that. And he did it perfectly.

This is mostly the story of Mortimer Bruster (Cary Grant), a writer and critic famous for his attacks on the institution of marriage. But as we open the film we see that Mortimer is finally getting married. And after a bit of trouble he's off to tell his sweet old aunts all about it before they run off on their honeymoon. But of course, nothing as simple as that. Especially on Halloween in Brooklyn. (Um, we'll ignore the point that they think it's Halloween even though the Dodgers are playing) But things definitely get more complicated as Mortimer discovers dark, dark, secrets and works to save those he loves. Rounded out with a wonderfully wacky cast with the likes of Priscilla Lane, Peter Lorre, Edward Everett Horton, and many more this film really does all come together provided you can just sit back and enjoy some of the more, shall we say, slightly unrealistic scenes.

As I understand it (and correct me if I'm wrong?) Mortimer's aunts were played by the same two (Josephine Hull and Jean Adair (I)) who previously had the role on Broadway. And I'm not sure anybody could have done it better. They are just the two sweetest little things I've ever seen. And you just know they're going to spend the entire time doing what they think is best for everybody. Whether the person agrees or not. And Raymond Massey (I) as Jonathan Brewster was great in bringing some darker drama to the production. But I can't but wonder how much more amusing it would have been to see Boris Karloff in the famous "looks like Karloff" role as he was on Broadway.

This is certainly one of the wackier and more hilarious movies I've seen. It never slows for a second and they keep you on your toes, never quite sure whether to gasp and look cross-eyed at your neighbors or just laugh out loud. After some of Cary Grant's later, more subtle roles, this was a fun change. I don't think this is really the best style for him and I've definitely seen better acting jobs but in this situation it worked well. And I'm not sure it really could have worked any other way.

"What is this? Did everybody in Brooklyn know I was going to get married except me?"
"Oh, we knew you'd find out about it in time."
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