Sunday, November 1, 2009
A Movie A Day: Arsenic & Old Lace is a wickedly good black comedy
Arsenic & Old Lace is one of my favorite movies of all time. But it's not a screwball type comedy. This is one of the first black comedies ever made. And it's wonderful. Directed by Frank Capra, the film finds our leading man Mortimer Brewster (top notch performance by Cary Grant) as a drama NY drama critic who has recently married his sweetheart Elaine Harper (the always appealing Priscilla Lane) very quietly. He didn't want his celebrity status to attract all kinds of press. So on their way to Niagara Falls, he stops by to visit his two very eccentric aunts Abby (Josephine Hull) and Martha (Jean Adair). They also live with their other nephew, the slightly mad Teddy, who thinks he is Teddy Roosevelt. But that's minor stuff once Mortimer finds out that his two gentle and sweet aunts have quietly been murdering lonely old men with elderberry wine laced with arsenic for years. They have buried the bodies down in the basement..actually they convince Teddy to bury them, letting him think they are victims of Panama fever. Of course Mortimer is beyond words and can't believe it. Things get worse when his dangerous and psychotic brother Jonathan (played by Raymond Massey) shows up on the run from the police. Jonathan brings along his accomplice Dr. Einstein (an excellent Peter Lorre). So Mortimer has to deal with all these crazy situations not to mention his impatient wife who is totally in the dark about what's going on. Arsenic and Old Lace is a great film with terrific performances that is a treat to see. Doesn't get any better than this. I have it ranked as #13 on my all time favorite movies and it's currently #247 on IMDB Top 250.