Wednesday, January 18, 2006

Arsenic and Old Lace

"Arsenic and Old Lace" (1944) is as close to being perfect as Hollywood can get.
For starters, you can't get any better as to actors, starting with Cary Grant at his most elegant and funniest as Mortimer Brewster.
(Maven thinks naming Grant "Mortimer" alone is a hoot!)
There's horror here, too, with Josephine Hull as his Aunt Abby.
Her brother was none other than Henry Hull, "Werewolf of London."
(And she certainly has the pedigree!)
You have Raymond Massey stepping in for Boris Karloff, who originated the part of Jonathan Brewster on Broadway and couldn't be borrowed for the film.
Peter Lorre is Dr. Einstein and perfect as Raymond Massey's sidekick/plastic surgeon and can't operate unless he's drunk . . .
(Maybe the anesthetic gave him the morning-after heebie-jeebies.)
Priscilla Lane is Elaine Harper, the Minister's daughter who lives across the cemetery from Mortimer's two aunts, who can't figure out if she's married to Mortimer or murder material for Jonathan.
(Across the cemetery?
At least you don't have to worry about the kids trick-or-treating from next door!)
John Alexander is "Teddy Roosevelt."
Not the President, just the one officially looneytoons resident of the house who almost looks normal compared to the rest of the family, starting with the Aunts.
"They're two of the dearest, sweetest, kindest old ladies that ever walked the earth. They're out of this world. They're like pressed rose leaves," Police Sgt. Brophy (Edward McNamara).
Consider:
MORTIMER: Men don't just get into window seats and die!
ABBY: OF course not, dear. He died first.
MORTIMER: But how?
ABBY: The gentleman died because he drank some wine with poisoning it. Now, I don't know why you're making such a big deal over this, Mortimer. Don't you worry about a thing!
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MORTIMER: Well, how did the poison get in the wine?
MARTHA: Well, we put it in wine because it's less noticeable. When it's in tea it has a distinct order.
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MORTIMER: All I did was cross the bridge and I was in Brooklyn. Amazing.
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Boy, is Maven glad she lives in Texas!
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Have any titles you're curious about, whether they're worth checking out?
Just email Maven at tholdmoviemaven@yahoo.com.
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