105 Must See Films, Uncategorized

105 Must See Films: Arsenic and Old Lace (1944)


Starring: Cary Grant, Raymond Massey, Peter Lorre, Priscilla Lane

Director: Frank Capra

When Mortimer Brewster (Grant) marries, he takes his bride home to Brooklyn where his two maiden aunts live, but he finds more than he bargained for when he discovers his aunts have been poisoning lonely old men. It only gets more complicated as his estranged brother returns with a body of his own to dispose of, and his new bride gets more and more curious about what’s going on.

It’s a madcap comedy, with Grant a manic presence, trying to protect his aunts and avoid having his bride find out what’s going on. He’s handsome, energetic and delightful, with an incredible sense of timing. There’s so much going on in this film, with all kinds of twists and turns and setbacks, as everyone has their own agenda.

It’s a must see because: it’s truly hilarious. What should be dark becomes funny in the hands of the desperate Mortimer, the poor man. His aunts are delightfully sweet, albeit murderous, and seem to really believe that they’re doing helpful work, which makes their dialogue wonderfully dark. And the side characters are all brilliant too. It’s such an unusual film, but wickedly funny.

See It If: you like screwball comedy or dark funny stories.


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