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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 »
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Popularity
4,683 ( 2,741)
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 »
Show more on IMDbPro »

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

There are conflicting reports about the size of Cary Grant's salary for the film and what he did with the money. Some sources claim that Grant earned $100,000 for the making of the picture and that he donated all of that money to the U.S. War Relief Fund. Other, perhaps more-credible sources such as the Warner Bros. Studio archives, suggest that Grant received $160,000 for his efforts and $50,000 of that money went to the Hollywood Division of the British War Relief Association of Southern California, $25,000 went to the American Red Cross, $25,000 went the United Service Organization, and $10,000 was paid to Grant's agent. Still other sources claim that Grant donated $100,000 of his salary to an unspecified wartime charity and kept the remainder of his salary (at least $60,000 if not more) for himself. Each of these sources are consistent on at least two main points: Grant earned $100,000 or more for making the film and donated at least $100,000 of his salary to Allied wartime charities. See more »

Goofs

When Mortimer opens (for the first time) the window seat, then closes it, he walks away and his voice is heard saying "The next thing..." before trailing off, but his lips do not move. 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

Featured in The 42nd Annual Academy Awards (1970) See more »

Soundtracks

Sing With All the Saints in Glory
(uncredited)
Written by William J. Irons
Music by Ludwig van Beethoven (as Ludwig von Beethoven)
Performed by the Aunts
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

See more »

User Reviews

 
My favorite classic movie!
7 September 2002 | by BadWebDiverSee all my reviews

This is my all-time favorite classic movie. It has an very sophisticatedly entertaining plot line, the casting is superb, the pace is breathtaking, and it deals with a subject (euthanasia) that is still controversial today. The story is a fine example of "black comedy", where a socially unacceptable idea is shown in a very entertaining manner.

The story is set up brilliantly right from the get-go; where a 'certifiable' publicly-acclaimed bachelor is secretly getting married. The personality of the cast is excellent. I know that Cary Grant reckoned this was his worst movie, saying it was more of a "Jimmy Stewart-type part"; but his spot-on comic timing and professional style hamming plays the role to perfection. Also co-starring in the movie is a brilliant Peter Lorre as a maniac doctor and Raymond Massey as the psychotic brother. Most critics have attacked this film by saying the script refers to the psycho being a Boris Karloff look-alike, highlighting the fact that Boris played the role is the original stage play. However Massey plays the role to deadpan perfection, and the humor of the scenario still works.

My favorite scene is the self-referential one where Mortimer (a theater critic)is describing "bad plays (and movies)". If you watch the background action, and pay attention to the dialog, the ironic situation is brilliantly realized. This film also has my personal favorite quote, said by Cary Grant as Peter Lorre frantically tries to warn him of impending doom; "Stop underplaying - I can't hear you!"


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