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Arsenic and Old Lace (1944)


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Product Details

  • Actors: Cary Grant, Priscilla Lane, Raymond Massey, Jack Carson, Edward Everett Horton
  • Directors: Frank Capra
  • Writers: Joseph Kesselring, Julius J. Epstein, Philip G. Epstein
  • Producers: Frank Capra, Jack L. Warner
  • Format: Black & White, Closed-captioned, NTSC
  • Language: English (Dolby Digital 2.0 Mono)
  • Subtitles: English, French
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Rated: NR (Not Rated)
  • Studio: Turner Home Ent
  • DVD Release Date: August 29, 2000
  • Run Time: 118 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (676 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: 0790743949
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #42,963 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "Arsenic and Old Lace (1944)" on IMDb

Special Features

None.

Editorial Reviews

You'll die laughing! Frank Capra directs Cary Grant, Raymond Massey, Peter Lorre and stellar cast in the hit Broadway farce about a nutcase family with well-intentioned homicidal tendencies.

Customer Reviews

Great old movie and very funny.
NerdGirl82
I have watched this movie several times and have loved it even more with every time I watch it!
Emily
If you can get through the entire movie without laughing out loud, you are really depressed.
W. Priebe

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

190 of 195 people found the following review helpful By Lee Gaiteri on September 6, 2000
Format: DVD Verified Purchase
Arsenic and Old Lace has been a family Halloween tradition for years. In some ways it might be called the original horror spoof: Two sweet old ladies poison lonely old men as a "charity" and bury them in the cellar, and no sooner does their stable nephew find out about this (while preparing to leave for his honeymoon) than his long-lost homicidal brother returns with a face like Frankenstein's monster.
Cary Grant knew his way around a comedy, so it's easy to believe when his character Mortimer grows more and more frazzled throughout the night, jumping from one problem to the next so quickly that he can't even remember he's just been married that day. In his place, juggling four insane relatives (three of them killers), a handful of cops, and two dead bodies, we'd all feel the worse for wear. The pace is quick, almost frantic at times; complications and plot twists come faster than anyone in the movie can handle them. The only characters who aren't perturbed and thrown completely out of their elements by the affair are the rest of the Brewster family, who are all crazy anyway.
The dark comedy genre is full of films that are a little too graphic or disturbing for kids (and even some adults), but this one's not quite so dark, and wildly funny enough to entertain all ages. And no matter how young or old you are, no matter how normal a family you have, you won't be able to help but chuckle when the harried Mortimer takes a breather to explain to his new wife: "Insanity runs in my family.... It practically gallops."
The DVD transfer is flawless; the clarity is wonderful. Pop some popcorn and watch it with the whole family.
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101 of 107 people found the following review helpful By forrie on March 21, 2002
Format: DVD
Frank Capra delivers a great film adaptation of Joseph Kesselring's Broadway hit, "Arsenic and Old Lace". Originally filmed in 1941 just prior to WWII, but not released until 1944 because of the contract agreement to allow the play to complete its Broadway run. (The play ran for 1,444 performances.)
Cary Grant in the leading role as nephew, Mortimer Brewster is at his comedic best in this black comedy of wine, family & insanity. His 2 fabulous Aunts played by Josephine Hull & Jean Adair were encored to the screen and are perfect in their roles. Boris Karloff's obligations prevented him from doing the movie and was replaced by Raymond Massey in the movie version as Grant madcap brother. The great ensemble cast also included Peter Lorre, Edward Everett Horton, Priscilla Lane & John Alexander as a delightful zany crazy, thinking he is President "Teddy Roosevelt".
Summary: It is Halloween, Mortimers wedding day & his life is about to change forever. Visiting his 2 Aunts (Hull & Adair) with his wife (Lane - Ministers daughter!) on their way to their honeymoon to Niagara Falls discovers a body in the window seat. Thinking his crazy cousin, (Alexander) has committed the crime approaches his Aunts. They not only know about the body, but they know who he was & how he died. Their elderberry wine laced with a mixture of arsenic. Oh by the way, he is the 12th to be buried in the cellar. What is Mortimer to do & is his entire family insane? We began a very entertaining & hilarious journey to answering these & many more questions.
This DVD is an excellent Black & White Full Screen (before WideScreen) transfer. Extras include Production notes.
"Arsenic and Old Lace" film adaptation is very close to the actual Broadway play & is a great classic to have in your DVD library. Enjoy.
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42 of 46 people found the following review helpful By Chon Wang on March 22, 2003
Format: DVD
Plot: Mortimer, a drama critic, has just got married and is about to go on his honeymoon when he discovers insanity runs in his family. His sweet maiden aunts poison lonely old men and have a number of corpses buried in the cellar.....
A film adaptation of the popular stage play, Arsenic and Old Lace is a hilarious movie perfect for people of all ages. The story of Mortimer Brewster (Cary Grant), the youngest of three brothers who were raised by two dear, but eccentric, spinster aunts, who have a nasty little habit of "putting poor souls" out of their misery with a little arsenic-laced elderberry wine.
It is delightful to watch Mortimer go from a nice, normal, newlywed to a nervous, neurotic mess as he tries to figure a way out of the predicament his well-meaning aunts have placed them all in. Throw in one brother who thinks he's Teddy Roosevelt, another who is a psychopathic killer fashioned after Boris Karloff, and Peter Lorre as Dr. Einstein, a slightly intoxicated make-shift plastic surgeon, and you'll be laughing the entire way through.
All of the performances were wonderful, but Cary Grant's facial expressions, double takes, and hilarious body language are a joy to watch. A truly classic, funny movie.
"No, I'm not drunk, madame.......but you've given me an idea!" - Mortimer, seething in frustration as he tries to get past the operator, so that he can get his family committed into the HappyDale Sanitarium.
"Insanity runs in my family. It practically gallops!" - Mortimer, trying to explain to his new bride why it would be best for her to leave him and never look back.
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14 of 14 people found the following review helpful By Deanna on March 30, 2003
Format: DVD
Cary Grant gives a sparkling performance as Mortimer Brewster, a dramatic critic, who has just gotten married to Elaine (Priscilla Lane). On their way to Niagara Falls for a honeymoon, Mortimer stops by his Aunt Martha (Jean Adair) and Aunt Abby's (Josephine Hull) home in Brooklyn. While searching for papers, he finds a dead man in the window seat! Thinking that his crazy brother, who believes he's President Teddy Roosevelt, murdered the man, Mortimer tells his aunts about his discovery and that he thinks Teddy should be put in a sanitarium immediately. But Martha and Abby aren't shocked about the dead body at all. In fact, they are the ones who killed him and the eleven other men in the cellar! Of course, they don't think what they do is murder -- they think they're doing a charity for lonely, old men by poisoning them with elderberry wine with arsenic in it and giving them a proper burial in their cellar. Stunned that his aunts could do such a thing and not think it's wrong, Mortimer goes on a quest to get Martha, Abby and Teddy all put away at the Happydale Sanitarium. But when Jonathan (Raymond Massey), his cruel and evil brother who nobody has seen in years, shows up with a dead body of his own to get rid of, hilarity ensues!
Arsenic and Old Lace is definitely one of the funniest movies I've ever seen. All of the performances are top-notch, especially Cary Grant's, as the bewildered nephew of two sweet, but crazy ladies. Interestingly, he once said that out of all his movies, this one was his least favorite, due to the overacting. Well, it's my favorite of his!
Do not miss this gem! It is absolutely fabulous.
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Black and White or Color Version?
It had a colorized version many years ago. I liked the colorized version when I saw it. Good luck finding it.
Feb 24, 2013 by cyberghostx13 |  See all 2 posts
Arsenic and Old Lace (other versions)
According to a reviewer I read, Boris Karloff, could not be released from the play to film the movie. Unless there's a filming of the play, at least on this avenue, you are out of luck. I know nothing regarding a Bob Crane version.

Ooh, and I didn't intend for a pun of Hogan's Heroes. Sorry... Read More
Nov 21, 2010 by K. DeV |  See all 5 posts
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