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.
Completely Hilarious Dark Comedy
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.
Frank Capra having fun
Cary Grant should have had his second Academy Award before he filmed Arsenic and Old Lace. After, he should have taken home his third for best Actor in one of his best comedic performances in his amazing career. Arsenic and Old Lace takes place pretty much in one location. A stage comedy, the movie does justice to its original theatrical version. Cary Grant makes you laugh, even an audience 50 and 60 years after its original release. The story of innocent guilt and laughable situations, other movies like What’s Up Doc, Marvin’s Room, and even Lake Placid (with its moments of ignorance and bliss) have all stolen moments of Arsenic and Old Lace. No one but Cary Grant could have starred in this movie. A delightful performance and an over the top comedic talent was showcased in this comedy classic.