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Arsenic and Old Lace
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Arsenic and Old Lace (1944) More at IMDbPro »

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Arsenic and Old Lace -- Oscar-winner Cary Grant stars as a drama critic whose life is turned upside down when he discovers that his two spinster aunts have taken to poisoning their gentlemen house guests.


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8.1/10   52,312 votes »
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Down 1% in popularity this week. See why on IMDbPro.
Julius J. Epstein (screen play) and
Philip G. Epstein (screen play) ...
View company contact information for Arsenic and Old Lace on IMDbPro.
Release Date:
23 September 1944 (USA) See more »
She Passed Out On Cary ! No Wonder . . . She's just discovered his favorite aunts have poisoned their 13th gentleman friend !
A drama critic learns on his wedding day that his beloved maiden aunts are homicidal maniacs, and that insanity runs in his family. Full summary » | Full synopsis »
Plot Keywords:
1 nomination See more »
(66 articles)
User Reviews:
Brilliant comedy like they could only make it in the old days See more (251 total) »


  (in credits order) (verified as complete)

Cary Grant ... Mortimer Brewster

Priscilla Lane ... Elaine Harper

Raymond Massey ... Jonathan Brewster

Jack Carson ... O'Hara

Edward Everett Horton ... Mr. Witherspoon

Peter Lorre ... Dr. Einstein

James Gleason ... Lt. Rooney
Josephine Hull ... Abby Brewster
Jean Adair ... Martha Brewster
John Alexander ... 'Teddy Roosevelt' Brewster

Grant Mitchell ... Reverend Harper
Edward McNamara ... Brophy
Garry Owen ... Taxi Cab Driver
John Ridgely ... Saunders
Vaughan Glaser ... Judge Cullman
Chester Clute ... Dr. Gilchrist

Charles Lane ... Reporter
Edward McWade ... Gibbs
rest of cast listed alphabetically:
Spencer Charters ... Marriage License Clerk (uncredited)
Jimmy the Crow ... Graveyard Raven (uncredited)
Sol Gorss ... New York Pitcher (uncredited)
Herbert Gunn ... Undetermined Supporting Role (uncredited)
Roland Jones ... Undetermined Supporting Role (uncredited)
Hank Mann ... Photographer at Marriage License Office (uncredited)
Spec O'Donnell ... Young Man in Line (uncredited)
Lee Phelps ... Umpire (uncredited)
Don Phillips ... Undetermined Supporting Role (uncredited)
Raymond Walburn ... Drummer at baseball game (uncredited)
Leo White ... Man in Phone Booth (uncredited)
Jean Wong ... Young Woman in Line (uncredited)

Directed by
Frank Capra 
Writing credits
Julius J. Epstein (screen play) and
Philip G. Epstein (screen play)

Joseph Kesselring (play)

Produced by
Jack L. Warner .... executive producer
Frank Capra .... associate producer (uncredited)
Original Music by
Max Steiner 
Cinematography by
Sol Polito (director of photography)
Film Editing by
Daniel Mandell 
Art Direction by
Max Parker 
Costume Design by
Orry-Kelly (gowns)
Makeup Department
Perc Westmore .... makeup artist
George Bau .... makeup artist (uncredited)
Anita De Beltrand .... hair stylist (uncredited)
John Wallace .... makeup man (uncredited)
Production Management
Eric Stacey .... unit manager (uncredited)
Steve Trilling .... production manager (uncredited)
Second Unit Director or Assistant Director
Claude Archer .... second assistant director (uncredited)
Russell Saunders .... assistant director (uncredited)
Art Department
Lucien Hafley .... props (uncredited)
Keefe Maley .... second propman (uncredited)
Alfred Williams .... assistant propman (uncredited)
Levi C. Williams .... assistant propman (uncredited)
Sound Department
C.A. Riggs .... sound
Everett Alton Brown .... sound mixer (uncredited)
Special Effects by
Robert Burks .... special effects
Byron Haskin .... special effects
Camera and Electrical Department
Wesley Anderson .... second camera (uncredited)
Joe Cramer .... best boy (uncredited)
Frank Evans .... assistant camera (uncredited)
Mickey Marigold .... still photographer (uncredited)
Harold Noyes .... grip (uncredited)
Charles O'Bannon .... gaffer (uncredited)
Costume and Wardrobe Department
Eugene Joseff .... costume jeweller (uncredited)
Cora Lobb .... wardrobe (uncredited)
Leon Roberts .... wardrobe (uncredited)
Music Department
Leo F. Forbstein .... musical director
Hugo Friedhofer .... orchestrator
Other crew
Russel Crouse .... producer: stage play
Howard Lindsay .... producer: stage play
Harold Winston .... dialogue director
Bob Fender .... unit publicist (uncredited)
Herman Lissauer .... researcher (uncredited)
Mal Merrihugh .... stand-in: Cary Grant (uncredited)
Wandra Ramsey .... script clerk (uncredited)
Crew verified as complete

Production Companies
  • Warner Bros. (A Warner Bros.-First National Picture) (presents)

Additional Details

Also Known As:
"Frank Capra's 'Arsenic and Old Lace'" - USA (complete title)
See more »
118 min
Aspect Ratio:
1.37 : 1 See more »
Sound Mix:
Mono (RCA Sound System)
Argentina:Atp | Australia:G (cable rating) | Australia:PG (original rating) | Brazil:14 (DVD rating) | Canada:PG (Ontario) | Denmark:11 | Finland:K-16 (1949) | Finland:(Banned) (1946) | France:U | Germany:12 (re-rating) (2000s) | Italy:T | Spain:T | Sweden:(Banned) (original rating) | Sweden:15 (re-rating) (1948) | UK:PG (1990) | UK:A (1944) | USA:Not Rated | USA:Approved (PCA #7855) | West Germany:16 (re-rating) (1980s) | West Germany:12 (original rating) (1952)

Did You Know?

To add to the funny-creepy mood, Frank Capra ordered a backdrop with wispy clouds in front of a full moon and countless bags of autumn leaves blown around the exterior house and cemetery sets by three wind machines.See more »
Incorrectly regarded as goofs: The movie opens with the Brooklyn Dodgers winning a baseball game on Halloween, weeks after the end of baseball season. This is a gag to suggest that the only time the Brooklyn Dodgers could win is on Halloween, similar to saying when pigs fly.See more »
[first lines]
Baseball Fan:I'll knock your block off, you big stiff! You're a bum!
See more »
Movie Connections:
Referenced in Winnie the Pooh (2011)See more »
Piano Sonata No. 11 in A Major, K.331, 3rd Movement, 'Alla Turca'See more »


Is there a name for Teddy's delusional disorder?
How much sex, violence, and profanity are in this movie?
Is 'Arsenic and Old Lace' based on a book?
See more »
36 out of 47 people found the following review useful.
Brilliant comedy like they could only make it in the old days, 19 November 2003
Author: Coventry from the Draconian Swamp of Unholy Souls

Arsenic and Old Lace is the most important contender for the funniest movie ever made !! Every single aspect and element in this movie is just perfect. And I'm NOT exaggerating... If I have to rate all the different elements of cinema separately, I would rate them all 10 out of 10. Acting, directing, plot, location, dialogues, sense of humor...all brilliant and in the right proportions. Frank Capra was responsible for several milestones and masterpieces in the history of cinema but - in my opinion - Arsenic and Old Lace beats them all. Yes, I DO think it's even better than 'It's a Wonderful Life' and 'Mr. Smith Goes to Washington' !!! Arsenic and Old Lace is just everything you could possibly wish for in a motion picture. A must see that comes with the highest possible recommendation.

Explaining the plot a bit would almost be impossible to do. The story goes about so many things. Don't be alarmed, it's not at all hard to follow or something. As a viewer, you're just being overwhelmed by a series of hilarious plot twists and intelligent side-characters and their backgrounds. So much that it is almost impossible to mention it all. And besides, it's better that you start watching it without knowing too much about the story anyway. Just sit back and enjoy being pleasantly surprised. I can't imagine that there are people out there who didn't fully enjoy this movie !! It comes really close to perfection, and the intelligence and originality of it will never again find an equal. Nowadays comedies are all low-brainers ( or even no-brainers ) that handle about dumb teenagers or dick and fart jokes. Arsenic and Old Lace is a comedy that is mainly story-driven and brought to an even higher level thanks the flawless acting performances.

Yes...let's talk about the cast a bit !! Cary Grant plays the role of his life in my opinion. Sure, he played many other brilliant roles but his character Mortimer Brewster is just the most memorable of them all. Grant's comedy talent was never stressed better than in this film. His facial expressions are hilarious and his the amazingly funny lines sound brilliant coming out of his mouth. The girl who played his wife Elaine ( forgot her name ) is very beautiful and a great match for him. And I was very enthusiast to see Peter Lorre in this film. He's in my top 5 list of greatest actors who ever lived and anyone who saw this movie will agree with me on that. He's just perfect as Dr. Einstein. I can keep on rambling about the cast but I think you get the whole picture... FLAWLESS !!!

Black comedy is one of the hardest subgenres of cinema to make a good movie out. Not many directors and scriptwriters have enough talent to take a subject like murder, death or insanity and make a masterpiece out of it. Stanley Kubrick did it with 'Dr. Strangelove' and Frank Capra did it with this one ... I think these men are the exception. Only these guys can make you laugh hysterically with subjects like this. Finally one more note : This is also a perfect movie to watch if you're a fan of classic horror movies and thrillers. First of all because of the tribute role by Peter Lorre of course but also because of the constant morbid atmosphere hanging around the movie...And, naturally, because of the character of Jonathan Brewster which clearly is a direct tribute to Boris Karloff...They even say so most of the times.

What the hell are you waiting for ?? Go watch it right now !

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