8.0/10
56,888
263 user 72 critic

Arsenic and Old Lace (1944)

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

Director:

Writers:

(screen play), (screen play) | 1 more credit »
Reviews
Popularity
1,916 ( 3,904)

Watch Now

From $2.99 (SD) on Amazon Video

ON DISC
1 nomination. See more awards »
Learn more

People who liked this also liked... 

Comedy | Romance
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8/10 X  

When a rich woman's ex-husband and a tabloid-type reporter turn up just before her planned remarriage, she begins to learn the truth about herself.

Director: George Cukor
Stars: Cary Grant, Katharine Hepburn, James Stewart
Comedy | Drama | Romance
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8/10 X  

A newspaper editor uses every trick in the book to keep his ace reporter ex-wife from remarrying.

Director: Howard Hawks
Stars: Cary Grant, Rosalind Russell, Ralph Bellamy
Harvey (1950)
Comedy | Drama | Fantasy
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8/10 X  

Due to his insistence that he has an invisible six foot-tall rabbit for a best friend, a whimsical middle-aged man is thought by his family to be insane - but he may be wiser than anyone knows.

Director: Henry Koster
Stars: James Stewart, Wallace Ford, William H. Lynn
Charade (1963)
Comedy | Mystery | Romance
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8/10 X  

Romance and suspense ensue in Paris as a woman is pursued by several men who want a fortune her murdered husband had stolen. Who can she trust?

Director: Stanley Donen
Stars: Cary Grant, Audrey Hepburn, Walter Matthau
Holiday (1938)
Comedy | Romance
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.9/10 X  

A young man falls in love with a girl from a rich family. His unorthodox plan to go on holiday for the early years of his life is met with skepticism by everyone except for his fiancée's eccentric sister and long-suffering brother.

Director: George Cukor
Stars: Katharine Hepburn, Cary Grant, Doris Nolan
Comedy | Romance
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.9/10 X  

Unfounded suspicions lead a married couple to begin divorce proceedings, whereupon they start undermining each other's attempts to find new romance.

Director: Leo McCarey
Stars: Irene Dunne, Cary Grant, Ralph Bellamy
The Big Sleep (1946)
Crime | Film-Noir | Mystery
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8/10 X  

Private detective Philip Marlowe is hired by a rich family. Before the complex case is over, he's seen murder, blackmail, and what might be love.

Director: Howard Hawks
Stars: Humphrey Bogart, Lauren Bacall, John Ridgely
Comedy | Drama | Romance
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8/10 X  

Longfellow Deeds, a simple-hearted Vermont tuba player, inherits a fortune and has to contend with opportunist city slickers.

Director: Frank Capra
Stars: Gary Cooper, Jean Arthur, George Bancroft
Edit

Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
...
...
...
...
...
...
...
...
...
...
...
Edward McNamara ...
Garry Owen ...
Taxi Cab Driver
John Ridgely ...
Saunders
Vaughan Glaser ...
Judge Cullman
Edit

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 ! See more »

Genres:

Comedy | Crime | Thriller

Certificate:

Not Rated | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

 »
Edit

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  »
Edit

Did You Know?

Trivia

There are conflicting reports about the size of Cary Grant's salary for the film and what he did with the money. Some sources claim that Grant earned $100,000 for the making of the picture and that he donated all of that money to the U.S. War Relief Fund. Other, perhaps more-credible sources such as the Warner Bros. Studio archives, suggest that Grant received $160,000 for his efforts and $50,000 of that money went to the Hollywood Division of the British War Relief Association of Southern California, $25,000 went to the American Red Cross, $25,000 went the United Service Organization, and $10,000 was paid to Grant's agent. Still other sources claim that Grant donated $100,000 of his salary to an unspecified wartime charity and kept the remainder of his salary (at least $60,000 if not more) for himself. Each of these sources are consistent on at least two main points: Grant earned $100,000 or more for making the film and donated at least $100,000 of his salary to Allied wartime charities. See more »

Goofs

Near the end of the film, Mr. Witherspoon addresses Mortimer as Mr. Witherspoon and Mortimer corrects him and saves the scene. Cary Grant appears to be genuinely amused by his mistake. 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: Steele Hanging in There: Part 1 (1987) See more »

Soundtracks

Fifth Symphony
(uncredited)
Composed by Ludwig van Beethoven (1804-1808)
Cary Grant hums first four notes.
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

See more (Spoiler Alert!) »

User Reviews

 
The Brooklyn Brewsters
15 May 2005 | by (New York) – See all my reviews

"Arsenic and Old Lace", one of the best stage comedies that were seen on Broadway, gets the royal treatment via Frank Capra, a man that was born to direct the movie version, if ever there was a man to do so. The play written by Joseph Kisserling was given an excellent screen play treatment by the Julius and Philip Epstein team, two great movie adapters of all time.

This is a combination of a madcap and a screwball comedy. The first best thing in the film are the star turn performances by two of the original actresses that created the roles of Aunt Abby and Aunt Martha, Josephine Hull and Jean Adair, respectively. Just to see the Brewster sisters in action is worth the price of admission. These two women had the roles of a career by bringing life into the two kinds souls living in Brooklyn and doing good, as well as "helping lonely old men" to find happiness.

The second best reason for watching the film is Cary Grant. This is without a doubt one of the actor's best achievements in his long career in the movies! Mr. Grant plays Mortimer Brewster, a man that hates the idea of getting married and losing his freedom. That is, until the beautiful Elaine comes along. Mr. Grant is a joy to watch in the film, no matter what he is doing, at any given moment. His expressions, as well as his timing is impeccable, something one expects of all of Mr. Capra's movies.

The Brewster household is the center of the action, but for a stage play, it never seems confining, or theatrical, even though it's basically shot in one single set. This appears to be the Brooklyn area near the Heights where one can see the majestic bridge in the distant. Maybe around Old Fulton Street, or that area, where the River Cafe is located now.

Mr. Capra was able to assemble such a wonderful group of the best actors working in movies. Lovely Priscilla Lane is the woman that conquered Mortimer's heart. Raymond Massey is Jonathan, the Dracula-like sinister figure that is Mortimer's brother. Also, John Alexander, is seen as "Uncle Teddy", the man with a Teddy Roosevelt's complex. Peter Lorre makes a good contribution as Dr. Einstein.

Jack Carson and John Ridgley are seen as the police working the area where the Brewster live. The supporting players are amazing: Edward Everett Horton, Garry Owen, Grant Mitchell, James Gleason, and although seen briefly, the great Charles Lane, who is one of the photographers pursuing Mortimer and Elaine when they are getting the marriage license. Mr. Lane appeared in hundred of films and is still alive, 100 years young! In a way, it's ironic Mr. Lane survived almost all the people in the film!

An excellent film by that American master, Frank Capra!


60 of 75 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

Contribute to This Page

Create a character page for:
?