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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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.

Overview

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8.1/10   50,888 votes »
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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:
"I'm the Son of a Sea Cook!" See more (248 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)

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

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:
Alberta Gary, Joan Leslie, Juanita Stark and Vera Lewis are in studio records/casting call lists for this movie, but they did not appear or were not identifiable.See more »
Goofs:
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 »
Quotes:
[first lines]
Baseball Fan:I'll knock your block off, you big stiff! You're a bum!
See more »
Movie Connections:
Soundtrack:
Fifth SymphonySee more »

FAQ

Any recommendations for other comedies similar to "Arsenic and Old Lace"?
How much sex, violence, and profanity are in this movie?
How does it end?
See more »
26 out of 30 people found the following review useful.
"I'm the Son of a Sea Cook!", 21 November 2005
Author: bkoganbing from Buffalo, New York

In Frank Capra's autobiography he explains that the reason he wanted to do Arsenic and Old Lace was that he was planning to go into the service, in preparation for the war he was sure coming. He wanted a surefire moneymaking hit that could be done on the cheap.

Arsenic and Old Lace was running on Broadway at the time and authors Howard Lindsay and Russell Crouse had sold the film rights to Warner Brothers. Capra negotiated a deal with Jack Warner for a percentage and told him how he would do the film on the cheap, but not cut production values. Years of experience at Columbia had taught him how. The property was perfect since 90% of it is on one set, the Brewster living room.

So the shooting was for four weeks and a big percentage of the budget was spent on getting a name star for guaranteed box office, that of course being Cary Grant. Of course this being 1941 the shooting was interrupted briefly by the actual attack on Pearl Harbor. But the film wrapped up quickly and was not released to the public until 1944 after the show on Broadway closed. It was however shown to troops overseas as were several other Hollywood films before they reached the domestic market.

Of course with a Capra selected cast the film was a great triumph. Only Jean Adair and Josephine Hull as the Brewster sisters and John Alexander as "Theodore Roosevelt" Brewster repeated their Broadway roles. Capra had insisted on that.

I don't think Cary Grant was ever more frantic in his film career than in Arsenic and Old Lace. He's one bundle of perpetual motion as Mortimer Brewster theater critic and member of a family where insanity doesn't just run, it gallops. He's got two daffy old spinster aunts who poison lonely old men to cure their loneliness, a brother who thinks he's Teddy Roosevelt, and another brother who is a homicidal maniac. Quite a family tree. Grant's performance is so good, you can see the fevered workings of his mind in his facial expressions as he frantically tries to get his whole family committed before the aunt's deeds are discovered.

Of the supporting cast I think that Raymond Massey as the homicidal brother, Peter Lorre as his sidekick, and Jack Carson as the dense police officer truly stand out. They and the others play parts that seem tailor made for them.

Over fifty years later, Arsenic and Old Lace will still fracture the funny bone in you.

And I wouldn't bet we've still not seen the last Roosevelt in the White House.

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