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Arsenic and Old Lace (1944)

Trailer
2:50 | Trailer
A writer of books on the futility of marriage risks his reputation when he decides to get married. Things get even more complicated when he learns on his wedding day that his beloved maiden aunts are habitual murderers.

Director:

Frank Capra

Writers:

Julius J. Epstein (screen play), Philip G. Epstein (screen play) | 1 more credit »
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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 ... Police 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 ... 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:

She Passed Out On Cary ! No Wonder . . . She's just discovered his favorite aunts have poisoned their 13th gentleman friend ! See more »

Genres:

Comedy | Crime | Thriller

Certificate:

Not Rated | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Boris Karloff did not abandon his commitment to the Broadway version of Arsenic and Old Lace in order to appear in this film. He did, however, graciously allow Warner Bros. to use his name and likeness, an issue that the studio had considered a potentially-devastating legal obstacle had he not done so. See more »

Goofs

The hymnal that the aunts use to hold services over Mr. Hoskins is "Hymns For Creative Living," published in 1935 by The Judson Press. The hymn that they sing ("There is a Happy Place") is not in that hymnal. See more »

Quotes

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

This is a Hallowe'en tale of Brooklyn, where anything can happen -- and it usually does. At 3 P.M. on this particular day, this was happening. [Scene of Brooklyn Dodgers and New York Yankees baseball game, irate fans and brouhaha between teams on the field, then...] While at the same time across the river in the UNITED STATES PROPER there was romance in the air. [Scene of cruise ship on the river with NY City skyline in the background, then...] And now, back to one of Brooklyn's most charming residential districts -- [Scene of old gabled Brewster house next to a cemetery, then...] -- From here on you're on your own. See more »

Alternate Versions

Also available in a computer colorized version. See more »

Connections

Featured in Kisses (1991) See more »

Soundtracks

Take Me Out to the Ball Game
(1908) (uncredited)
Music by Albert von Tilzer
In the score for the baseball game
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User Reviews

 
Hilarious Screwball Comedy by Frank Capra
23 June 2012 | by claudio_carvalhoSee all my reviews

On Halloween day, the writer and drama critic Mortimer Brewster (Cary Grant) secretly marries his next door neighbor Elaine Harper (Priscilla Lane) and they decide to travel to Niagara Falls in honeymoon. Mortimer has written many books criticizing the institution of marriage and his weeding would be a scoop for the reporters and paparazzos.

Mortimer and Elaine take a taxi to Brooklyn to bring their luggage and Mortimer visits his adorable elderly aunts Abby (Josephine Hull) and Martha Brewster (Jean Adair), who raised him and are considered Good Samaritans in the neighborhood, renting rooms and giving meals to the poor. His aunts live with his insane brother Teddy (John Alexander), who believes that is Theodore Roosevelt and is digging locks for the Panama Canal in the basement of the house. When Mortimer is ready to go, he finds a dead body hidden in the window seat and his aunts explains that they have murdered the poor men for charity to stop their suffering serving wine spiked with arsenic and other poisons. Then Teddy buries the corpses in the locks believing that they had yellow fever.

Mortimer decides to send Teddy to the Happy Dale Sanatorium but things get worse when his other insane and cruel brother Jonathan Brewster (Raymond Massey), who had disappeared twenty years ago and has the face of Boris Karloff, unexpectedly appears in the house with his alcoholic partner, the plastic surgeon Dr. Einstein (Peter Lorre), expecting to find a place to dispose the corpse of his victim. The place transforms in a nuthouse.

"Arsenic and Old Lace" is a hilarious screwball comedy by Frank Capra based on a theater play. The plot and the characters are very funny with Josephine Hull and Jean Adair performing two innocent serial-killers believing that the death of their victims is charity. Cary Grant exaggerates in his reaction and he seems to be crazier than his insane relatives, but the result is wonderful. My vote is eight.

Title (Brazil): "Este Mundo é um Hospício" ("This World is a Sanatorium")


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Frequently Asked Questions

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Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English | German

Release Date:

21 September 1944 (Uruguay) 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
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