- Acting of Lead Performers
- Acting of Supporting Cast
- Music Score
- Title Sequence
- Historical Importance
- Would You Recommend?
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The lighter side of serial murder
One reviewer posted that Cary Grant is "over the top" in this film. He certainly is. Every character in the movie is over the top. The plot is over the top. This is all what makes the movie so absolutely hilarious. For god's sake, serial murder is about as over the top as life can get. What Cary Grant does, as just about the only sane person in his family, is use his facial expressions, hand gestures and expressive language and tone to convey his total dismay at the chaotic absurdity of life in his childhood home. He is surrounded by well-meaning, polite and god-fearing lunatics. And he has just hours to deal with the mess he has uncovered in order to save the aunt and the uncle he loves. But they sure don't make it easy for him. The blithe unawareness of his aunts when told "it's not nice to kill people," is not only confounding to Grant's character (Mortimer) but it makes the audience roar with laughter. This is because, in this film, murder is funny and the two maiden aunts, using a rather twisted logic, view murder of lonely, elderly gentlemen as an act of Christian charity. When the crazy, long lost brother Jonathan returns that evening after escaping from a prison for the criminally insane and dragging along the demented plastic surgeon, Dr. Einstein, and Mr. Spinalzo, a new corpse for the growing basement cemetery, the activities in that otherwise quiet, quaint Brooklyn home become absolute chaos. Inept cops, an uncle who believes he is Teddy Roosevelt and who thinks all of the corpses are yellow fever victims, Mortimer's new bride who cannot understand why she and her husband are not on a train bound for Niagara Falls, the confusion of two different corpses in the window seat--it all adds to the madcap and hilarious adventure that takes place in one afternoon and evening in that Brooklyn home. Mortimer to his new bride, Elaine: "We can't stay married. Insanity runs in my family. In fact, it practically gallops."
It is an okay movie, but Grant's over acting takes a lot away from it. He is known for over acting and this is the best example of that.
In what universe would one find serial murder to be hysterically funny? In Brooklyn in the 1940s, evidently. This film never ceases to make me laugh. There is a darkness to it while, at the same time, it may be the funniest movie I've ever seen. Many of the scenes are totally brilliant: Cary Grant first realizing his beloved aunts have 12 bodies buried in the cellar; Teddy trying to carry a body down to the cellar to bury him (when that door closes and the next sound is a screeching cat and then two bodies tumbling down the stairs, it is comedy at its very best; the moment Aunt Abby is staring onto the window box at a body she does not recognize and asking "who can that be?"; the arrival of crazy Jonathan and Dr. Einstein; Aunt Abby and Aunt Martha all dressed in mourning so they can bury their latest victim--this movie is warped in a most delightful way. The casting is superb and is a collection of some of the best actors and actresses of the day. I have this on dvd but I still look for it on TCM simply because I don't want to miss an opportunity to watch it and hear the TCM commentary. Don't miss it.
Masterpiece of Dark Humor
There must be a special kind of genius to make such a superbly funny movie from such a dark theme as murder. When I first saw this movie perhaps the 1970's, I could hardly believe how entertaining it is. Top entertainment with top actors, at their best.
Excellent movie, poor DVD quality
- Weldon Vlasak
This is one of the best movies ever made. Unfortunately, the quality of the DVD playback is quite poor. It appears the that the screen size has been clipped, since changing screen ratios does not solve the problem. Makes the movie much less appealing, with high loss of desirability.
This movie is one of Frank Capras best. This is a very funny movie, especially the interactions of the all the characters in the film. I believe the characters were well cast especially the Brewster sisters who were hysterical. And Cary Grant very funny. Shows how versatile Grant is from his departure of serious roles to that of comedic. Priscilla lane lovely as always. Massey and Lorre added that special touch to the suspense and comedy of the movie.
Arsenic and Old Lace
- Janet Masly
This movie is a "Brooklyn only" production. I was annoyed with the constant slapstick scenes. It showed no plot. The well known actors have had better movies. There was alot of over-acting in this movie.........to the point of aggravation. If this is synonymous with people who live in Brooklyn, I am glad I don't live there.
- Flatbush Brooklyn
Hilarious especially if you live in Brooklyn most of your life. The characters are so funny! Pure entertainment! Grant, Massey and Lorre all my favorites! Loved the opening scene with the Brooklyn Dodgers!
Definitely a Classic B & W
- V. Max
Terrific movie. I'm an old Raymond Massey fan (first watched him in the "Dr. Kildare" TV series in the role of Chief of Staff, Leonard Gillespie). Top-rate cast. Good role with Humphrey Bogart in another rarely-televised film: "Action in the North Atlantic".
Arsenic and Old Lace!
Classic Dark comedy at it's best! Have been watching this movie for over 50 years and still laugh every time! Cary Grant at his best. The Brewster sisters are awesome! Teddy charging up the stairs. Raymund Massey looking like Boris Karloff and Peter Lorre playing the "good doctor". All will keep you rolling on the floor laughing!
I was hysterical when Mortimer screamed as the old man started to drink the wine. Cary Grant's facial expressions are priceless. This is one of the funniest movies I have ever seen!
It's not a bad movie but not a great one. It tries way too hard.
Too much of a good thing
- Don Letta
I watch this film as much as I can in a vain effort to see something I missed all the times before, But, alas, it's always the same conclusion. Sometime a great cast, story and director do not a great film make. Grant's pratfalls and overblown double-takes grow tiresome somewhere around mid-film, and from then on the bug-eyed overacting from nearly everyone becomes annoyingly boring. Must say, the ladies in the film fare the best. Priscilla Lane was wonderful and Adair and Hull add the right twist to the concept of nievite. The men all needed a hit of decaf.
Arsenic & Old Lace
- Dashiell Barnes
Dark comedy at it's absolute best under Capra's direction. A newlywed drama critic discovers that his aunts have been poisoning lonely men. The entire cast, headed by Grant, is excellent particularly Adair, Hull, Massey & Lorre as the killers. This dark "screwball comedy" demonstrates anti-conformism while the entertainment is macabre, making fun towards love & marriage. An masterfully hilarious film that must be seen. I give it a 5/5.
- Mr. Blandings
While this movie has a few laughs, chiefly provided by the acrobatic and rubber-faced Grant, it doesn't hold up to repeated viewings. Also, while it is based on a stage play, the movie should have been filmed to look more like a movie than a play. Even the tree outside his house looked like a cheap prop. Watch for Jack Carson in a good bit as a not-too-bright cop.
The acting in this movie is some of the best and Cary Grant shows us again why he was one of the most flexable actors.
Great old movie, very funny, except for Cary Grant who over acts to the max. This was his biggest problem when he attempted comedy. Always fun to watch anyway.
I love this movie. Its a best all-time comedy. Cary Grant is amazing. Everyone must watch this movie, it will not disappoint.
Arsenic and Old Lace
If this movie was supposed to be funny, then lol it was great. There was moments where I could not stop laughing.
best all-time comedy
- steve sokol
this is without a doubt grant's funniest film performance,and that's saying tons about this movie. been watching this movie since the 60's and I never tire of any aspect of this truly great film. people rave about capra's other movies, but none can touch this one.
Arsenic and Old Lace (1944)
- Jay Higgins
Outstanding comedy that moves at a lightening pace, Cary Grant is brilliant and everyone in the cast is fantastic. Unique, incredibly well written and wonderful. One of the best classic comedies.
my all time favorite
I watch this movie at least once a week and laugh everytime. Cary Grant's facial expression when he realizes his Aunts KNOW there is a body in the window seat just kills me! I love the emotion he puts into everything he does in this great classic. Prisilla Lane is lovely in this film.
For the love of Carey
When my 10th grade teacher made us read the story of Arsenic and Old Lace back in 1984 I enjoyed it immensely, but when I was told we would see a movie, I thought how can it top the story. Well my love for old movies and Carey Grant stemmed from this movie. I was surprised to how true to the book it was and believable the actors were. I laughed out loud and my associates could not understand my enjoyment. I wanted to see more of Carey and more nostalgic movies. Cary Grants range of characters leaves me breathless and makes me wish he was my Angel. Thanks for making great memories for me by recapturing my youth with this my essential movie.
Poisoning Can Be Fun
- Bob Hendrick
I must have seen this movie 30 times, and each time I see it I breakup with laughter at the scene when Peter Lorre falls into the window seat. Raymond Massey's performance should be put in a time capsule; and that gorgeous Pricilla Lane! Thank heavens for Frank Capra. They used to call his films "Capra-corn", and he laughed all the way to the bank. Mr. Capra, "where are you now that we need you?"
- Beth Ann
This truly is my fave movie since I was a kid. I have watched it so many times, I thought I would get sick of it. But no way could you get sick of the whole cast. Brilliant. I even named my daughter after Cary Grant, my favorite actor. A must see at anytime, especially at holloween time.
This is one zany and hilarious film
This is certainly one of my all time favorite films. Every actor in the movie does an expert job. From Cary Grant down to Peter Lorre. They are all great!It grabs you from the very beginning and takes you on one wild ride. This is a good flick to watch on Halloween since it's set on Halloween.
Fun to Watch
Their are not very many film you can say are "Fun" but this ones is the best..I love to watch it around Halloween. Pricilla Lane was an underrated actress I just loved her with Cary Grant. This movie is funny and a little scary at the same time.
The Best of Cary Grant!
- Rebecca Boedeker
This is Cary Grant's funniest movie of all time! I spent most of it rolling on the ground with laughter. This is a movie for all ages!
The best of the best!!!
Cary Grant is at his best in Arsenic and Old Lace!! What a terrific performance!! I could watch this movie a hundred times over!!! Not to mention, he's easy on the eyes!!!
- Jamie Brown
This movie is excellent. I even had my teenage daughter fall in love with Mr. Grants acting. He's classic and this movie just shows his talent ten fold! Awesome movie with excellent performances by all the characters! Love IT!!
Cary Grant is perfect
I LOVE Cary Grant and this is a great movie. Very, very funny and only slightly creepy. Cary's performance is flawless - 5 stars. The performances of the supporting cast were superb as well. The movie gets 4.5 stars becuase to me it seemed to drag a bit in spots. Also, according to TCM's Home Video Vote this title is not available on Home Video. But it is. I've seen it on DVD several places but only in Full Frame. I wish they would release it in Wide Screen.