Arsenic and Old Lace
  • Arsenic and Old Lace
  • Arsenic and Old Lace

Arsenic and Old Lace

4.8 36
Director: Frank Capra

Cast: Cary Grant, Priscilla Lane, Raymond Massey

     
 

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Arsenic and Old Lace is director Frank Capra's spin on the classic Joseph Kesselring stage comedy, which concerns the sweet old Brewster sisters (Josephine Hull, Jean Adair), beloved in their genteel Brooklyn neighborhood for their many charitable acts. One charity which the ladies don't advertise is their ongoing effort to permit lonely bachelors to die withSee more details below

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Overview

Arsenic and Old Lace is director Frank Capra's spin on the classic Joseph Kesselring stage comedy, which concerns the sweet old Brewster sisters (Josephine Hull, Jean Adair), beloved in their genteel Brooklyn neighborhood for their many charitable acts. One charity which the ladies don't advertise is their ongoing effort to permit lonely bachelors to die with smiles on their faces--by serving said bachelors elderberry wine spiked with arsenic. When the sisters' drama-critic nephew Mortimer (Cary Grant) stumbles onto their secret, he is understandably put out--especially since he has just married the lovely Elaine Harper (Priscilla Lane). Given the homicidal tendencies of his aunts, the sinister activities of his escaped-convict older brother Jonathan (Raymond Massey) and the disruptive behavior of younger brother Teddy (John Alexander)--who is convinced that he's really Theodore Roosevelt, and runs around the house yelling "CHAAAAARGGGE"--Mortimer isn't keen on starting a family with his new bride. "Insanity runs in my family," he explains. "It practically gallops." Further complications ensue when the murderous Jonathan Brewster arrives home, with his snivelling accomplice Dr. Einstein (Peter Lorre) in tow. When Jonathan learns that his darling aunts have killed twelve men, he is incensed--they're challenging his own record of murders. Though the movie rights for Arsenic and Old Lace were set up so that the film could not be released until 1944, director Capra shot the film quickly and inexpensively in 1941, so that his family could subsist on his $100,000 salary while he was serving in World War II.

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Editorial Reviews

All Movie Guide
This hilariously droll black comedy is one of the most successful adaptations of theater to film. The deft portraits of two classically sweet little old ladies (Josephine Hull and Jean Adair) who invite bachelors to dinner and then poison them with spiked elderberry wine are at the center of the increasingly frantic proceedings. A homicidal nephew and another who thinks he's Teddy Roosevelt add to the fun. Frank Capra coaxes over-the-top performances from a cast that includes Cary Grant as a clueless drama-critic nephew and Raymond Massey and Peter Lorre as villains. The film's cavalier attitude toward death was well-suited to its World War II release. It was actually shot in 1941, and Capra's family lived off his salary from it while he served in the war. It's one of Capra's best. A cinematic evergreen, Arsenic and Old Lace has never lost its appeal, as new generations of audiences keep discovering its lunatic charms.

Product Details

Release Date:
11/09/2010
UPC:
0883929151615
Original Release:
1944
Rating:
NR
Source:
Turner Home Ent
Region Code:
1
Presentation:
[Full Frame]
Time:
1:58:00
Sales rank:
248

Special Features

Closed Caption

Cast & Crew

Performance Credits
Cary Grant Mortimer Brewster
Priscilla Lane Elaine Harper
Raymond Massey Jonathan Brewster
Jack Carson Officer O'Hara
Peter Lorre Dr. Einstein
Edward Everett Horton Mr. Witherspoon
James Gleason Lt. Rooney
Josephine Hull Abbey Brewster
Jean Adair Martha Brewster
John Alexander "Teddy Roosevelt" Brewster
Grant Mitchell Rev. Harper
Edward McNamara Brophy
Garry Owen Taxi Driver
John Ridgely Saunders
Vaughan Glaser Judge Cullman
Chester Clute Dr. Gilchrist
Charles Lane Reporter
Edward McWade Gibbs
Spencer Charters Marriage License Clerk
Hank Mann Photographer
Lee Phelps Umpire
Leo White Man in Phone Booth

Technical Credits
Frank Capra Director,Producer
Robert Burks Special Effects
Russel Crouse Producer
Julius J. Epstein Screenwriter
Philip G. Epstein Screenwriter
Byron Haskin Special Effects
Howard Lindsay Producer
Dan Mandell Editor
Orry-Kelly Costumes/Costume Designer
Max Parker Art Director
Sol Polito Cinematographer
C.A. Riggs Sound/Sound Designer
Russ Saunders Asst. Director
Max Steiner Score Composer
Perc Westmore Makeup

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Scene Index

Disc #1 -- Arsenic and Old Lace
1. Credits [1:09]
2. A Spree Grows In [:51]
3. Mortimer's Come To [3:10]
4. The Brewster House [7:23]
5. One Thing at a Time [4:09]
6. Two Nicest Aunts [2:04]
7. Murder Will Out [2:03]
8. Their Little Secrets [2:53]
9. An Even Dozen [2:37]
10. Gone to Panama [2:54]
11. Where Elaine Stands [3:06]
12. A New Gentleman [3:08]
13. Another Roosevelt [3:30]
14. Jonathan/Dr. Einstein [7:52]
15. Disagreeable [2:41]
16. Just the Right Size [2:45]
17. Lights and Bodies [5:16]
18. Elaine's Bad Timing [3:59]
19. A Touching Reunion [3:08]
20. What's With Elaine? [2:28]
21. Who Can That Be? [2:24]
22. Window-Seat Worries [1:52]
23. O'Hara Drops In [3:13]
24. If You Tell, I Tell [2:01]
25. Tie Score [3:02]
26. Galloping Insanity [4:09]
27. Melbourne Method [2:24]
28. Big Dope [3:52]
29. To My Dear Dead [2:42]
30. O'Hara's Opus [3:13]
31. Third-Act Brawl [3:44]
32. Rooney on the Scene [3:44]
33. Teddy's Term Expires [3:57]
34. Bodies Everywhere [3:54]
35. Sign, Dr. Einstein [1:41]
36. True Confessions [3:14]
37. Not Themselves; Cast List [1:34]

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