Arsenic and Old Lace (1944) – Ace Mini-Review

Arsenic and Old Lace
Starring: Cary Grant, Josephine Hull, Jean Adair
Written by: Julius J. Epstein, Philip G. Epstein
Play by: Joseph Kesselring
Directed by: Frank Capra
U.S.A., 1944

How good is this movie?

Possibly the funniest movie of all time! It’s on my top five list, at any rate. I generally have mixed feelings about Cary Grant, but he is a great physical actor, and the role of Mortimer brings out the best in his comedic abilities (making this my favourite Cary Grant film!) The rest of the cast are great, too, especially Josephine Hull and Jean Adair as the sweet yet homicidal aunts and Peter Lorre as the reluctant but obedient sidekick (this is also my favourite Peter Lorre film!) The set-up is wonderfully absurd, and the humour is the kind that has aged relatively well. Basically, if you’re looking for a movie that will make you laugh a lot without asking you to think too much, this is it!

How ace is this movie?

Mortimer, we are told, has railed against marriage in the past, and even wrote a book denouncing it. Yet the movie opens with him getting married, apparently proving that even those sceptical of matrimony will fall into it when they meet the right person. Once he is married, he seems to turn into a traditional romantic, buying Elaine flowers and planning a honeymoon at Niagara Falls. He does quickly become caught up in events at home, and spends most of the film neglecting and ignoring his new wife. But these problems are portrayed as temporary hurdles on the road to a happy marriage.

4 Stars; 3 Aces

Happy Hallowe’en!

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