8.0/10
63,820
282 user 85 critic

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 »

Photos

Edit

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
Learn more

More Like This 

Comedy | Romance
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.9/10 X  

When a rich woman's ex-husband and a tabloid-type reporter turn up just before her planned remarriage, she begins to learn the truth about herself.

Director: George Cukor
Stars: Cary Grant, Katharine Hepburn, James Stewart
Certificate: Passed Comedy | Drama | Romance
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.9/10 X  

A newspaper editor uses every trick in the book to keep his ace reporter ex-wife from remarrying.

Director: Howard Hawks
Stars: Cary Grant, Rosalind Russell, Ralph Bellamy
Certificate: Passed Comedy | Family | Romance
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.9/10 X  

While trying to secure a $1 million donation for his museum, a befuddled paleontologist is pursued by a flighty and often irritating heiress and her pet leopard, Baby.

Director: Howard Hawks
Stars: Katharine Hepburn, Cary Grant, Charles Ruggles
Harvey (1950)
Comedy | Drama | Fantasy
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.9/10 X  

Due to his insistence that he has an invisible six foot-tall rabbit for a best friend, a whimsical middle-aged man is thought by his family to be insane - but he may be wiser than anyone knows.

Director: Henry Koster
Stars: James Stewart, Wallace Ford, William H. Lynn
Certificate: Passed Comedy | Drama | Romance
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.9/10 X  

A man from a family of rich snobs becomes engaged to a woman from a good-natured but decidedly eccentric family.

Director: Frank Capra
Stars: Jean Arthur, James Stewart, Lionel Barrymore
Holiday (1938)
Comedy | Romance
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.8/10 X  

A young man in love with a girl from a rich family finds his unorthodox plan to go on holiday for the early years of his life met with skepticism by everyone except for his fiancée's eccentric sister and long-suffering brother.

Director: George Cukor
Stars: Katharine Hepburn, Cary Grant, Doris Nolan
Suspicion (1941)
Mystery | Thriller
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.4/10 X  

A shy young heiress marries a charming gentleman, and soon begins to suspect he is planning to murder her.

Director: Alfred Hitchcock
Stars: Cary Grant, Joan Fontaine, Cedric Hardwicke
Comedy | Drama | Romance
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.9/10 X  

A simple, small town man inherits a massive fortune, making him the target for scammers and publicity-seekers. Overwhelmed by the turn his life has taken, and awoken to another use for his new-found fortune, he makes a momentous decision.

Director: Frank Capra
Stars: Gary Cooper, Jean Arthur, George Bancroft
Certificate: Passed Comedy | Romance
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.7/10 X  

Unfounded suspicions lead a married couple to begin divorce proceedings, whereupon they start undermining each other's attempts to find new romance.

Director: Leo McCarey
Stars: Irene Dunne, Cary Grant, Ralph Bellamy
Charade (1963)
Certificate: Passed Comedy | Mystery | Romance
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 7.9/10 X  

Romance and suspense ensue in Paris as a woman is pursued by several men who want a fortune her murdered husband had stolen. Whom can she trust?

Director: Stanley Donen
Stars: Cary Grant, Audrey Hepburn, Walter Matthau
Comedy | Romance
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.1/10 X  

A spoiled heiress running away from her family is helped by a man who is actually a reporter in need of a story.

Director: Frank Capra
Stars: Clark Gable, Claudette Colbert, Walter Connolly
Certificate: Passed Comedy | Drama
    1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 8.1/10 X  

A naive man is appointed to fill a vacancy in the United States Senate. His plans promptly collide with political corruption, but he doesn't back down.

Director: Frank Capra
Stars: James Stewart, Jean Arthur, Claude Rains
Edit

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 »
Edit

Did You Know?

Trivia

One of Frank Capra's mother's great talents was making elderberry wine, which becomes the murder weapon in this film. See more »

Goofs

A policeman named Rooney has his rank fluctuate between "Lieutenant" and "Captain" throughout the film. 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

Referenced in Midsomer Murders: The Electric Vendetta (2001) See more »

Soundtracks

The Sidewalks of New York
(1894) (uncredited)
Music by Charles Lawlor
Some bars in the score when Brooklyn is mentioned
See more »

User Reviews

 
The Brooklyn Brewsters
15 May 2005 | by jotix100See all my reviews

"Arsenic and Old Lace", one of the best stage comedies that were seen on Broadway, gets the royal treatment via Frank Capra, a man that was born to direct the movie version, if ever there was a man to do so. The play written by Joseph Kisserling was given an excellent screen play treatment by the Julius and Philip Epstein team, two great movie adapters of all time.

This is a combination of a madcap and a screwball comedy. The first best thing in the film are the star turn performances by two of the original actresses that created the roles of Aunt Abby and Aunt Martha, Josephine Hull and Jean Adair, respectively. Just to see the Brewster sisters in action is worth the price of admission. These two women had the roles of a career by bringing life into the two kinds souls living in Brooklyn and doing good, as well as "helping lonely old men" to find happiness.

The second best reason for watching the film is Cary Grant. This is without a doubt one of the actor's best achievements in his long career in the movies! Mr. Grant plays Mortimer Brewster, a man that hates the idea of getting married and losing his freedom. That is, until the beautiful Elaine comes along. Mr. Grant is a joy to watch in the film, no matter what he is doing, at any given moment. His expressions, as well as his timing is impeccable, something one expects of all of Mr. Capra's movies.

The Brewster household is the center of the action, but for a stage play, it never seems confining, or theatrical, even though it's basically shot in one single set. This appears to be the Brooklyn area near the Heights where one can see the majestic bridge in the distant. Maybe around Old Fulton Street, or that area, where the River Cafe is located now.

Mr. Capra was able to assemble such a wonderful group of the best actors working in movies. Lovely Priscilla Lane is the woman that conquered Mortimer's heart. Raymond Massey is Jonathan, the Dracula-like sinister figure that is Mortimer's brother. Also, John Alexander, is seen as "Uncle Teddy", the man with a Teddy Roosevelt's complex. Peter Lorre makes a good contribution as Dr. Einstein.

Jack Carson and John Ridgley are seen as the police working the area where the Brewster live. The supporting players are amazing: Edward Everett Horton, Garry Owen, Grant Mitchell, James Gleason, and although seen briefly, the great Charles Lane, who is one of the photographers pursuing Mortimer and Elaine when they are getting the marriage license. Mr. Lane appeared in hundred of films and is still alive, 100 years young! In a way, it's ironic Mr. Lane survived almost all the people in the film!

An excellent film by that American master, Frank Capra!


66 of 84 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you? | Report this
Review this title | See all 282 user reviews »

Frequently Asked Questions

See more »
Edit

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 »

Edit

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 »

Contribute to This Page



Recently Viewed