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

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Overview

User Rating:
8.1/10   48,091 votes »
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Down 2% in popularity this week. See why on IMDbPro.
Director:
Writers:
Julius J. Epstein (screen play) and
Philip G. Epstein (screen play) ...
(more)
Contact:
View company contact information for Arsenic and Old Lace on IMDbPro.
Release Date:
23 September 1944 (USA) See more »
Genre:
Tagline:
She Passed Out On Cary ! No Wonder . . . She's just discovered his favorite aunts have poisoned their 13th gentleman friend !
Plot:
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:
Awards:
1 nomination See more »
User Reviews:
And who said comedy is not an art form? See more (244 total) »

Cast

  (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)
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)
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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)
Distributors
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Additional Details

Also Known As:
"Frank Capra's 'Arsenic and Old Lace'" - USA (complete title)
See more »
Runtime:
118 min
Country:
Language:
Aspect Ratio:
1.37 : 1 See more »
Sound Mix:
Mono (RCA Sound System)
Certification:
Argentina:Atp | Australia:G (cable rating) | Australia:PG (original rating) | Brazil:14 (DVD rating) | Canada:PG (Ontario) | Finland:K-16 (1949) | Finland:(Banned) (1946) | Germany:12 | 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 (nf)

Did You Know?

Trivia:
Jonathan describes one of his killings and Dr. Einstein says "You can't count him. He died of pneumonia," then Jonathan replies "He wouldn't have died of pneumonia if I hadn't shot him." This connects to the United States Presidents theme in the film. In 1881, President James Garfield was shot by a drifter named Charles Guiteau. Garfield recovered from the wound, only to catch pneumonia from tainted surgical tools, and died 79 days after the shooting. Guiteau's courtroom defense was that Garfield died of pneumonia; the verdict was, in effect, that Garfield wouldn't have died of pneumonia if Guiteau hadn't shot him. Guiteau was sent to the execution dock in 1882.See more »
Goofs:
Continuity: Just before Jonathan and Dr. Einstein show up, Aunt Abby arranges the two candelabras so that they are both facing forward. After Jonathan and Dr. Einstein enter, one of the candelabras is facing sideways.See more »
Quotes:
[first lines]
Baseball Fan:I'll knock your block off, you big stiff! You're a bum!
See more »
Movie Connections:
Featured in Hollywood: The Gift of Laughter (1982) (TV)See more »
Soundtrack:
Funeral March (Marche funèbre)See more »

FAQ

How does it end?
Any recommendations for other comedies similar to "Arsenic and Old Lace"?
Where does the title come from?
See more »
25 out of 30 people found the following review useful.
And who said comedy is not an art form?, 4 January 2002
Author: mattymatt4ever from Jersey City, NJ

With many silly comedies of recent years, comedy has become the most underrated art form. People take comedy for granted. As if there's nothing to it. True, there are some people will just laugh at anything. In some cases, it doesn't take much to raise a chuckle out of a certain someone. But this is the kind of film that will make you fall on the floor laughing. Why? Because it makes use of every comic device you can think of. The timing, the delivery, the choreography. Absolutely perfect!

That's right, no cheap shots here. There are some absolutely brilliant scenes in this film that made me laugh out loud, while at the same time scream out "Capra's a genius!" If you wanna see what comedy is truly all about, watch the scene where Cary Grant (noted drama critic) is describing the story of a bad play he had just seen to Peter Lorre. As he's doing so, everything that happened in the story is going on right behind his back. Doesn't sound like much on paper, but you have to see it to believe it. There are also many great lines, including "Pull up a tombstone."

The acting is topnotch. I can't believe Grant felt this was the worst movie he's ever done (check the Trivia section). I actually liked the fact that this was a different role for him, as opposed to the suave, quiet, laid-back romantic he-man he usually plays. In this movie, we really get to see his knack for slapstick--and he's great at it! Every facial expression, every bulge of the eyes--he did it with such perfect timing. There's also a great scene where they all start fighting, and Grant sits on the stairs and smokes a cigarette while all this bedlam ensues. His deadpan expression during that scene is classic. I also have to give it up for everyone else in the cast--though Grant deserves the most acclaim.

There are lulls here and there, and the film runs a little long (though that wouldn't surprise me being that it was adapted from a stage play), but there are so many beautifully crafted, hilarious moments that I can't rate this movie as anything less than a must-see! I would go on and on about which scenes I found memorable, but I don't wanna spoil it for anyone. Just see it for yourself! Trust me, you'll die laughing!

My score: 9 (out of 10)

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