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Arsenic and Old Lace (1944)

 -  Comedy | Crime  -  23 September 1944 (USA)
8.1
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Ratings: 8.1/10 from 48,098 users  
Reviews: 244 user | 64 critic

A drama critic learns on his wedding day that his beloved maiden aunts are homicidal maniacs, and that insanity runs in his family.

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(screen play), (screen play), 1 more credit »
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Title: Arsenic and Old Lace (1944)

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
...
...
...
...
O'Hara
...
...
...
Josephine Hull ...
Jean Adair ...
John Alexander ...
...
Edward McNamara ...
Garry Owen ...
Taxi Cab Driver
John Ridgely ...
Saunders
Vaughan Glaser ...
Judge Cullman
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Storyline

Mortimer Brewster is a newspaperman and author known for his diatribes against marriage. We watch him being married at city hall in the opening scene. Now all that is required is a quick trip home to tell Mortimer's two maiden aunts. While trying to break the news, he finds out his aunts' hobby; killing lonely old men and burying them in the cellar. It gets worse. Written by John Vogel <jlvogel@comcast.net>

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

Taglines:

She Passed Out On Cary ! No Wonder . . . She's just discovered his favorite aunts have poisoned their 13th gentleman friend !

Genres:

Comedy | Crime

Certificate:

Not Rated | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

 »
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Details

Country:

Language:

|

Release Date:

23 September 1944 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Frank Capra's 'Arsenic and Old Lace'  »

Box Office

Budget:

$1,120,175 (estimated)
 »

Company Credits

Production Co:

 »
Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

(RCA Sound System)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See  »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Ronald Reagan and Jack Benny were offered the role of Mortimer Brewster, but turned it down. Bob Hope was offered the part and was eager to do it but Paramount Pictures refused to loan him out to Warner Bros. for the project. See more »

Goofs

When Teddy is playing the harpsichord near the beginning of the film (c. 6'45") the music on the stand is a duet for an instrumentalist with a keyboard accompaniment, hence the three music staves, yet we hear Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart's Pianoforte Sonata in A minor movement. See more »

Quotes

[first lines]
Baseball Fan: I'll knock your block off, you big stiff! You're a bum!
See more »

Connections

Referenced in Cheers: Madame LaCarla (1991) See more »

Soundtracks

Bridal Chorus
(1850) (uncredited)
from "Lohengrin"
Music by Richard Wagner
Variations often in the score
Whistled by Priscilla Lane
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

See more (Spoiler Alert!) »

User Reviews

 
Hilarious Screwball Comedy by Frank Capra
23 June 2012 | by (Rio de Janeiro, Brazil) – See all my reviews

On Halloween day, the writer and drama critic Mortimer Brewster (Cary Grant) secretly marries his next door neighbor Elaine Harper (Priscilla Lane) and they decide to travel to Niagara Falls in honeymoon. Mortimer has written many books criticizing the institution of marriage and his weeding would be a scoop for the reporters and paparazzos.

Mortimer and Elaine take a taxi to Brooklyn to bring their luggage and Mortimer visits his adorable elderly aunts Abby (Josephine Hull) and Martha Brewster (Jean Adair), who raised him and are considered Good Samaritans in the neighborhood, renting rooms and giving meals to the poor. His aunts live with his insane brother Teddy (John Alexander), who believes that is Theodore Roosevelt and is digging locks for the Panama Canal in the basement of the house. When Mortimer is ready to go, he finds a dead body hidden in the window seat and his aunts explains that they have murdered the poor men for charity to stop their suffering serving wine spiked with arsenic and other poisons. Then Teddy buries the corpses in the locks believing that they had yellow fever.

Mortimer decides to send Teddy to the Happy Dale Sanatorium but things get worse when his other insane and cruel brother Jonathan Brewster (Raymond Massey), who had disappeared twenty years ago and has the face of Boris Karloff, unexpectedly appears in the house with his alcoholic partner, the plastic surgeon Dr. Einstein (Peter Lorre), expecting to find a place to dispose the corpse of his victim. The place transforms in a nuthouse.

"Arsenic and Old Lace" is a hilarious screwball comedy by Frank Capra based on a theater play. The plot and the characters are very funny with Josephine Hull and Jean Adair performing two innocent serial-killers believing that the death of their victims is charity. Cary Grant exaggerates in his reaction and he seems to be crazier than his insane relatives, but the result is wonderful. My vote is eight.

Title (Brazil): "Este Mundo é um Hospício" ("This World is a Sanatorium")


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