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Monday, November 15, 2010

Arsenic and Old Lace (Released in 1944) - Starring Cary Grant, Josephine Hull, Jean Adair, and Raymond Massey

Arsenic and Old Lace is a 1944 film directed by Frank Capra based on Joseph Kesselring's play of the same name. It stars Cary Grant along with Josephine Hull, Jean Adir, Raymond Massey and John Alexander.
Cary Grant is Mortimer Brewster who does not believe in love stories and the institution of marriage and has written several books against it. But his views are put to the test when he falls head over heels for his childhood friend Elaine Harper and they get married on Halloween day. So Mortimer and his new bride go visiting relations after their wedding. Mortimer's bizarre relatives live in their family house and consist of his aunts, Ada and Martha and his brother Teddy. Well one hitch is that both Ada and Martha are very eccentric with Teddy crowning the madness streak. Teddy believes himselves to be Teddy Roosevelt and charges at all occasions over the banisters, imitating Roosevelt's famous charge up San Juan Hill.
Sinister and devilish plots and corpses tumble out of his Aunts closets. Both Ada and Martha inform him about their charity of bumping off invalid old members to end their presumed suffering by giving them elderberry wine spiked with arsenic. These corpses are unwittingly buried by Teddy who believes that he is digging locks for the Panama Canal and burying yellow fever victims.



To complicate matters further, Mortimer's more sinister brother Jonathan arrives along with his plastic surgeon friend Dr. Herman Einstein. Jonathan is a psychotic murderer who has his face altered by Dr. Einstein to look like Boris Karloff in his makeup as Frankenstein's monster. Jonathan finds about his aunts secrets and try to bury his latest victim Mr. Spenalzo in the basement. This is vehemently opposed by his aunts who think their victims prestige will be lowered being buried with a lowly Spenalzo. Soon all the crazed deranged relatives turn their attention to Mortimer.
A mortally afraid and mortified Mortimer tries to keep one step ahead of them. He tries to protect Elaine and makes various bumbling attempts to alert the cops and get his aunts and Teddy to an asylum. He is also scared of going insane as his relatives as insanity is galloping through the Brewster's from the days of their arrival aboard the Mayflower.
In the end, he manages to get his relatives booked and locked up. The ultimate redemption comes when he is informed by Ada, that he is not a Brewster, but the son of a chef aboard the ship. A relieved Mortimer walks in to the sunset with Elaine, happy to be a sea cooks son.
This movie is a spoof of the Black widow murders and was well received at the box office. This movie was also the critics favorite and is treated as one of the great 100 laugh riots by the American Film Institute. This macabre movie is a great fun to watch and I would recommend it highly for anybody. Just keep it away from children below eight.

Arsenic and Old Lace (Released in 1944) - Starring Cary Grant, Josephine Hull, Jean Adair, and Raymond Massey

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