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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.

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Writers:

(screen play), (screen play) | 1 more credit »
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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
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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:

I'll knock your block off, you big stiff! You're a bum! See more »

Genres:

Comedy | Crime | Thriller

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
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Frank Capra also noted that while he was stationed in London in 1943, he overheard American and British soldiers screaming "Charge!" in the manner of the "Teddy Roosevelt" character and deduced that they had seen the film. He then learned that Jack L. Warner had released the picture to the armed forces a year before it was to be released to the general public. See more »

Goofs

A policeman named Rooney has his rank fluctuate between "Lieutenant" and "Captain" throughout the film. 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 La muerte enamorada (1951) 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

 
Brilliant Black Comedy!
16 April 2005 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

Mortimer Brewster, a New York critic of both drama and marriage, has finally married Elaine Harper, the girl next door. But before heading off to Niagra Falls for the honeymoon, Mortimer stops in to see his aunts, Abby and Martha Brewster, two sweet little old ladies who donate toys to charity and care for their nephew Teddy, a bugle blowing nutbag who thinks he's Theodore Roosevelt. But Abby and Martha aren't as sweet and innocent as they seem. Mortimer soon discovers, to his horror, that his dear old aunties have a dozen bodies buried in the basement. It seems the Brewster sisters have a new hobby - luring lonely old men into their home and serving them Elderberry Wine spiked with arsenic poison. To make matters worse, Mortimer's deranged and very dangerous brother Jonathan shows up. Jonathan, on the run from the law, has a dead body in the trunk of his car, a drunken plastic surgeon at his side and a face that looks like Boris Karloff. Mortimer frantically attempts to deal with dead bodies, insane asylum directors, attempted murders and a new bride all on a single crazy Halloween night.

This is a must-see Halloween movie, filled with Gallows humor, leaf-strewn graveyards, pumpkins and death. Cary Grant delivers a performance unlike any other he has ever done - manic, panicked, hysterical and almost as insane as his screen family. John Alexander is flawless as Teddy; bugles, pith helmet and all. Jean Adair and Josephine Hull are so sweet and cute and so absolutely morbid you'll forgive them anything. Raymond Massey as Boris Karloff lookalike Jonathan is simultaneously menacing and amusing, and Peter Lorre as his drunken German sidekick Dr. Einstein is a riot, bugging his eyes and flinching through the entire film in a most endearing way.

This is a must see film, no matter your genre preference. There's something for everyone here: quick-witted comedy, true romance, grisly deeds, everything! Fans of Grant and Lorre must not miss this film. 10 stars!


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