8.0/10
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Arsenic and Old Lace (1944)

Trailer
2:50 | Trailer
A writer of books on the futility of marriage risks his reputation when he decides to get married. Things get even more complicated when he learns on his wedding day that his beloved maiden aunts are habitual murderers.

Director:

Frank Capra

Writers:

Julius J. Epstein (screen play), Philip G. Epstein (screen play) | 1 more credit »
Reviews
1 nomination. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Cary Grant ... Mortimer Brewster
Priscilla Lane ... Elaine Harper
Raymond Massey ... Jonathan Brewster
Jack Carson ... O'Hara
Edward Everett Horton ... Mr. Witherspoon
Peter Lorre ... Dr. Einstein
James Gleason ... Police Lt. Rooney
Josephine Hull ... Abby Brewster
Jean Adair ... Martha Brewster
John Alexander ... 'Teddy Roosevelt' Brewster
Grant Mitchell ... Reverend Harper
Edward McNamara Edward McNamara ... Brophy
Garry Owen ... Taxi Cab Driver
John Ridgely ... Saunders
Vaughan Glaser Vaughan Glaser ... Judge Cullman
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Storyline

Mortimer Brewster is a newspaperman and author known for his diatribes against marriage. We watch him being married at city hall in the opening scene. Now all that is required is a quick trip home to tell Mortimer's two maiden aunts. While trying to break the news, he finds out his aunts' hobby; killing lonely old men and burying them in the cellar. It gets worse. Written by John Vogel <jlvogel@comcast.net>

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

Taglines:

She Passed Out On Cary ! No Wonder . . . She's just discovered his favorite aunts have poisoned their 13th gentleman friend ! See more »

Genres:

Comedy | Crime | Thriller

Certificate:

Not Rated | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Did You Know?

Trivia

To add to the funny-creepy mood, Frank Capra ordered a backdrop with wispy clouds in front of a full moon and countless bags of autumn leaves blown around the exterior house and cemetery sets by three wind machines. See more »

Goofs

The movie opens with the Brooklyn Dodgers winning a baseball game on Halloween, weeks after the end of baseball season. This is a gag to suggest that the only time the Brooklyn Dodgers could win is on Halloween, similar to saying when pigs fly. See more »

Quotes

[first lines]
Baseball Fan: I'll knock your block off, you big stiff! You're a bum!
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Crazy Credits

This is a Hallowe'en tale of Brooklyn, where anything can happen -- and it usually does. At 3 P.M. on this particular day, this was happening. [Scene of Brooklyn Dodgers and New York Yankees baseball game, irate fans and brouhaha between teams on the field, then...] While at the same time across the river in the UNITED STATES PROPER there was romance in the air. [Scene of cruise ship on the river with NY City skyline in the background, then...] And now, back to one of Brooklyn's most charming residential districts -- [Scene of old gabled Brewster house next to a cemetery, then...] -- From here on you're on your own. See more »

Alternate Versions

Also available in a computer colorized version. See more »

Connections

Referenced in Remington Steele: Let's Steele a Plot (1984) See more »

Soundtracks

Fifth Symphony
(uncredited)
Composed by Ludwig van Beethoven (1804-1808)
Cary Grant hums first four notes.
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User Reviews

Completely Hilarious Dark Comedy
14 June 2001 | by Snow LeopardSee all my reviews

For those who enjoy dark comedy, it's hard to see how anything could be funnier than "Arsenic and Old Lace". With Cary Grant's talent for madcap comedy, with hilariously sinister performances by Raymond Massey and Peter Lorre, with two adorable old ladies who have a very dark secret, plus half-a-dozen other eccentric characters, all involved in a complicated and unpredictable plot, this is a comic masterpiece. Director Frank Capra keeps everything moving and adds his own touch, keeping some dark material entirely light-hearted.

This is the kind of movie for which mere analysis cannot do justice to how well everything fits together. The characters, cast, and writing are all perfect, and the crazy story gives every character some great moments. There is plenty of witty dialogue, lots of funny slapstick and physical humor, and quite a few wild plot developments. None of it is meant to be plausible, but it is all hugely entertaining, and done with such skill that it is easy to suspend disbelief. If you happen not to have seen this before, stick with it for the first few minutes, until you arrive at the home of Cary Grant's two aunts, and then things will take off quickly.

If you enjoy morbid humor, "Arsenic and Old Lace" is an absolute must-see.


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Frequently Asked Questions

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Details

Country:

USA

Language:

English | German

Release Date:

21 September 1944 (Uruguay) See more »

Also Known As:

Frank Capra's 'Arsenic and Old Lace' See more »

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Box Office

Budget:

$1,120,175 (estimated)
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Warner Bros. See more »
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Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Mono (RCA Sound System)

Aspect Ratio:

1.37 : 1
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