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00678 - ARSENIC AND OLD LACE

Movie-Hype00678 - ARSENIC AND OLD LACE

Here’s the set up: Carey Grant (improbably named Mortimer Brewster, but from now on we’ll call him Carey Grant) is a confirmed bachelor drama critic, who’s just gotten married to sweet Elaine, who lives across the street from Grant’s two dear aunts in Brooklyn. (Clearly the scariest place in America. And while I’m in the parenthesis, what’s up with Grant always playing woman-haters? We need to get Schrödinger to look into that.)

About to go on their honeymoon, Grant makes the startling discovery of a body in his aunts’ home. This starts off a mad-paced farce with Grant trying to get his uncle Teddy committed to the nut-house for thinking he’s Teddy Roosevelt (which will somehow save his aunts) and the return of an evil prodigal murderous brother, along with Peter Lorre!

It’s obvious from moment one that ARSENIC is an adapted play, which works pretty well, basically taking place in one room. The black comedy farce of aunts who kill old men certainly has a lot of humor, although I have to point ask: why spend all your time committing the relatively harmless Uncle Teddy (who’s major crime seems to be yelling “Charge!” and flying up the stairs as if they are San Juan Hill), while protecting aunts who have killed 12 people? They’re sweet old things, but if anyone belongs off the streets….

The movie is hilarious at some moments, although with a dim view of women. (The newlywed Elaine is almost brain dead, and gives up her horror at discovering dead bodies when Carey Grant kisses her passionately. Then again, most Elaines are like that anyway, so maybe it’s not so sexist.) It’s also a bit stodgy and twenty minutes too long. My sister vehemently objected to the characters continually discussing idiots who refuse to turn around when they are in danger, while the very thing happens to the characters. You know that kind of SCREAM-esque self-aware stuff. Perhaps they did rely on that gimmick a tad much, but it didn’t bother me too much. Bottom Line: if you like dark comedy or Grant ARSENIC AND OLD LACE is a must see.

1 comment:

WisteriaRain said...

This is a traditional black and white movie that is part of Halloween tradition. Every Halloween I have to watch this movie, or it isn't Halloween. Just like if I miss It's a Wonderful Life... strange coming from a woman who doesn't do holidays huh? Summer time it's time for Jaws... these are seasonal movies ... well, how I tell the seasons!

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