Movies From the Hat IV #24 – Laura’s Pick – Arsenic and Old Lace (1944)

This is my 2483rd Review

Thanks to Laura of Film Nerd Blog for this recommendation.

arsenic “Look I probably should have told you this before but you see… well… insanity runs in my family… It practically gallops.” – Mortimer Brewster

Number of Times Seen – Between 3-5 times (cable in the 90’s and 5 Sep 2016)

Brief Synopsis – While on his way to his honeymoon, an outspoken newspaper writer figures out that his family is even stranger than he originally suspected and must keep the secrets from his fiance and other unexpected visitors to the house he grew up in.

My Take on it – I recall that this film was among the favorites of my mother’s when I was a kid and I know that we sat down to watch the funny antics numerous times while I was a teen.

Upon rewatching it now, I can’t say that I remembered much about it, but that actually helped me enjoy the story even more.

The dialogue is superbly written and it comes across quite rich and sharp because so much has double meaning.

This helps keep things interesting the entire time.

The characters created here are all great and despite some of them being played too “over the top”, we get to know enough about each pf them to try and determine whether we believe them to be good or bad due to their actions.

The cast is also great with Cary Grant, peter Lorre, Raymond Massey doing wonderful jobs, but the scene stealing in every scene he appears in is John Alexander as Teddy; who can ever forget the way he constantly runs across the screen screaming CHARGE!!!!

Grant seems a bit out of place here and there are scenes where it seems as if he is running around like a chicken without a head.

Bottom Line – Many of the characters are really played over the top, but in some ways that makes them even funnier.  Grant isn’t known for his comic delivery, so he seems in some scenes like a chicken without a head.  Loved the dialogue because it was so quick and rich that it keeps things interesting the whole time.  Excellent cast helps make this even more fun than ever.  Lots of quirky characters that work well. My favorite character of them all tho is the Teddy role played by John Alexander who constantly screams CHARGE!!!! while running across the screen. Recommended!

MovieRob’s Favorite Trivia – When Mortimer is sitting in the graveyard, one of the tombstones has the name Archie Leach on it. Archie Leach is Cary Grant’s real name.  (From IMDB)

Rating – Globe Worthy


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4 thoughts on “Movies From the Hat IV #24 – Laura’s Pick – Arsenic and Old Lace (1944)

  1. Pingback: Movies Reviewed Index A-Z |

  2. Really glad you enjoyed this, seeing it again. I loved the dotty old sisters, they were utterly delightful and yet such twisted minds!

    I read once that the fairies from Disney’s Sleeping Beauty were based on them. Not sure if that’s true but I can see it!

    I thought Carry Grant was perfectly cast given that he’s meant to be the sane one among a crazy family. Plus, anyone who writes anti marriage books for a living would have to be hot, or they’d just look bitter!

    Hmm… now I think it’s time for me to rewatch!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Great review! I’ve loved this movie since I was 8 years old. Still love it.

    The history of this film is actually quite interesting. It’s based on a hit Broadway play by Joseph Kesselring which opened in January 1941 and was a huge hit. Warners, knowing it would be a moneymaker, optioned the play almost immediately and the film went into production while the play was still running–mainly due to the availability of Cary Grant. The producers had sold the rights on the stipulation that the movie couldn’t be released until the play finished its Broadway run.

    The movie was filmed in November and December 1941. The Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor occurred during the production. In fact, one film historian I read claims that you can tell where in the film the attack occurred (it was filmed mostly in sequence)–I think it’s about 2/3 of the way through when the energy of the performances, especially Cary Grant’s, suddenly slackened. When everyone came back to the set on Monday morning, December 8, they were shocked and depressed. Grant evidently believed the news negatively affected his performance, which was the least favorite of his roles. Because many of the crew decided they were going to join the service they filmed the rest of the movie as fast as possible and it sat in a can until summer 1944 when the Broadway production finally closed.

    “Arsenic & Old Lace” (the play) was responsible for introducing into our culture the trope, originally done at baseball games, of a quick trumpet fanfare followed by “CHARRRGE!!!” after Teddy does it repeatedly in the play (and the movie). If I recall correctly, the organist for the Brooklyn Dodgers home stadium began doing this in the summer of 1943 as an homage to the play which everybody had seen by that time. When the movie came out it made it even more popular.


  4. Pingback: Temporal Top Ten – 1944 | MovieRob

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