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 <email@example.com>
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 »
The movie opens with a baseball game, on Halloween, weeks after the end of season. This is a dramatization of a folk truism of the times: "The only way the Brooklyn Dodgers could win is to play on Halloween!" Presumably 1940s audiences would have recognized the joke immediately. See more »
I'll knock your block off, you big stiff! You're a bum!
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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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