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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 47,372 users  
Reviews: 243 user | 62 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

Plot Keywords:

cellar | critic | insanity | poison | cemetery | See more »

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

The Broadway comedy opened at the Fulton Theatre on January 10, 1941 and ran for 1,444 performances, closing on June 17, 1944. Repeating their stage roles in the movie were "Brewster siblings" Josephine Hull, Jean Adair and John Alexander, all three getting time off from the New York play. Boris Karloff was denied permission to go by the play's producers, fearing that the absence of their main star would adversely affect the play's attendance. 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 Remington Steele: Let's Steele a Plot (1984) See more »

Soundtracks

Piano Sonata No. 11 in A Major, K.331, 3rd Movement, 'Alla Turca'
(1783?) (uncredited)
Music by Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart
Played by John Alexander on the harpsichord
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

See more (Spoiler Alert!) »

User Reviews

 
highly recommended
2 April 2007 | by (london uk) – See all my reviews

One of the great black comedies. If Boris Karloff had joined his fellow Broadway cast members - Jean Adair, Josephine Hull and John Alexander - I think it would have been an even better movie. Raymond Massey, unquestionably a good actor, did his best, but didn't quite seem to get the joke, or maybe was overwhelmed by having to incarnate Karloff. But it's a quibble, really, and we're more than compensated by the the rest of the cast.

Cary Grant motors the piece along at a terrific pace. He's a joy to watch, with his double-, triple-, even quadruple- and quintuple-takes. Hull and Adair are equally wonderful in their different ways, the former all floaty and tip-toe, the latter hysterically earnest - one of my favourite moments is Adair's superb double-take when she notices, on the dining-room table, a shoe she doesn't recognise.

Peter Lorre, Jack Carson, Edward Everett Horton, James Gleason, and the rest, are all everything they should be, and Priscilla Lane is splendidly dewy-eyed and pouty as the love-interest.

I've seen Arsenic and Old Lace countless times. I've never tired of it, always look forward to it, and highly recommend it.


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