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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.

Director:

Frank Capra

Writers:

Julius J. Epstein (screen play), Philip G. Epstein (screen play) | 1 more credit »
Reviews
1 nomination. See more awards »

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Cast

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

View content advisory »
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Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English | German

Release Date:

23 September 1944 (USA) See more »

Also Known As:

Frank Capra's 'Arsenic and Old Lace' See more »

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Box Office

Budget:

$1,120,175 (estimated)
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Warner Bros. See more »
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Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Mono (RCA Sound System)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
See full technical specs »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

For his role as Jonathan, Boris Karloff got top billing in the Broadway production. For this film version, Cary Grant got top billing for his role as Mortimer. See more »

Goofs

While Mortimer talks to his aunts early in the movie, the rice in his hair disappears and moves around between shots. See more »

Quotes

[first lines]
Baseball Fan: I'll knock your block off, you big stiff! You're a bum!
See more »

Alternate Versions

Also available in a computer colorized version. See more »

Connections

Spoofed in Kitty Kornered (1946) See more »

Soundtracks

Fifth Symphony
(uncredited)
Composed by Ludwig van Beethoven (1804-1808)
Cary Grant hums first four notes.
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Frequently Asked Questions

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User Reviews

 
highly recommended
2 April 2007 | by gsygsySee all my reviews

One of the great black comedies. If Boris Karloff had joined his fellow Broadway cast members - Jean Adair, Josephine Hull and John Alexander - I think it would have been an even better movie. Raymond Massey, unquestionably a good actor, did his best, but didn't quite seem to get the joke, or maybe was overwhelmed by having to incarnate Karloff. But it's a quibble, really, and we're more than compensated by the the rest of the cast.

Cary Grant motors the piece along at a terrific pace. He's a joy to watch, with his double-, triple-, even quadruple- and quintuple-takes. Hull and Adair are equally wonderful in their different ways, the former all floaty and tip-toe, the latter hysterically earnest - one of my favourite moments is Adair's superb double-take when she notices, on the dining-room table, a shoe she doesn't recognise.

Peter Lorre, Jack Carson, Edward Everett Horton, James Gleason, and the rest, are all everything they should be, and Priscilla Lane is splendidly dewy-eyed and pouty as the love-interest.

I've seen Arsenic and Old Lace countless times. I've never tired of it, always look forward to it, and highly recommend it.


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