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Arsenic and Old Lace - A film review

February 12, 2008
Posted by mmarvs in : Films
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Review by Adriana Carriles

arsenic.jpgArsenic and Old Lace is, from my point of view, one of the funniest comedies of all time. The film’s screenplay was written by Epstein brothers based on Joseph Kesselring’s successful Broadway play of the same name.

But let’s begin with the plot: Mortimer Brewster (Cary Grant), a drama critic who was educated by two sweet but eccentric old aunts, has just got married when he discovers insanity runs in his family, which also includes one brother who thinks he’s the USA President Teddy Roosevelt and another who is a psycho-killer fashioned after Boris Karloff.

A very dark and funny movie of a much more innocent age: in 1944 the idea of respectful people committing murder was funny in its own way because it was a situation so far away from reality. Arsenic and Old Lace, however, is anything but sad!

And what about the performances? All of them were wonderful, but Cary Grant’s facial expressions and body language are just out of this world! In spite of the fact that Cary Grant always disliked his performance in Arsenic and Old Lace (he complained about taking part in a comedy film), I do think he was excellent and it’s impossible not to laugh your head off!

I must admit that much of this film’s humour has become dated: some of the references are quite difficult to understand for today’s audiences (for example, the joke of Jonathan’s resemblance to Boris Karloff… how many young people know nowadays who Karloff was?). Never mind, ignore the jokes you don’t really get and be prepare to burst out laugh with lines like these:

(Mortimer) - But there’s a body in the window seat!!!
(Aunt Abby) - Yes, dear, we know.
(Mortimer) - You know???
(Aunt Martha) - Of course
(Aunt Abby) - Yes, but it has nothing to do with Teddy.
(Mortimer) - But, but…
(Aunt Abby) - Now, Mortimer, you forget about it. Forget you ever saw the gentleman.
(Mortimer) - Forget???
(Aunt Abby) - We never dreamed you’d peek.

Ah! The Spanish translation is a little bit different, as you can see is you visit my blog (Am I allowed to do some self-publicity? Hehehe), where I posted this film some months ago: http://cineblog.blogia.com/2006/042801-arsenico-por-compasion.-frank-capra-1944.php#comentarios),

My final advice? If you haven’t seen this movie already, what are you waiting for?

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1. Verónica Díaz - 12 February 2008 

Thank you Adriana, you have written an interesting review about this “special” book, I say “special” because is a mixture between junior and adult literature but you have helped me to make up my mind, so this is the next book that I’m going to read when I have more free time. Take care.

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