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Arsenic and Old Lace (1944)

Not Rated  |   |  Comedy, Crime  |  23 September 1944 (USA)
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A drama critic learns on his wedding day that his beloved maiden aunts are homicidal maniacs, and that insanity runs in his family.



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

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


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 <>

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis


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


Comedy | Crime


Not Rated | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:






Release Date:

23 September 1944 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

Frank Capra's 'Arsenic and Old Lace'  »

Box Office


$1,120,175 (estimated)

Company Credits

Production Co:

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:

(RCA Sound System)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


Low-key lighting was used throughout, to give the film its spooky Halloween tone. See more »


When Mortimer first thinks of calling Judge Cullman, he raises his left arm. In the next shot, his right arm is raised. See more »


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


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


The Sidewalks of New York
(1894) (uncredited)
Music by Charles Lawlor
Some bars in the score when Brooklyn is mentioned
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

See more (Spoiler Alert!) »

User Reviews

Completely Hilarious Dark Comedy
14 June 2001 | by (Ohio) – See all my reviews

For those who enjoy dark comedy, it's hard to see how anything could be funnier than "Arsenic and Old Lace". With Cary Grant's talent for madcap comedy, with hilariously sinister performances by Raymond Massey and Peter Lorre, with two adorable old ladies who have a very dark secret, plus half-a-dozen other eccentric characters, all involved in a complicated and unpredictable plot, this is a comic masterpiece. Director Frank Capra keeps everything moving and adds his own touch, keeping some dark material entirely light-hearted.

This is the kind of movie for which mere analysis cannot do justice to how well everything fits together. The characters, cast, and writing are all perfect, and the crazy story gives every character some great moments. There is plenty of witty dialogue, lots of funny slapstick and physical humor, and quite a few wild plot developments. None of it is meant to be plausible, but it is all hugely entertaining, and done with such skill that it is easy to suspend disbelief. If you happen not to have seen this before, stick with it for the first few minutes, until you arrive at the home of Cary Grant's two aunts, and then things will take off quickly.

If you enjoy morbid humor, "Arsenic and Old Lace" is an absolute must-see.

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