Arsenic and Old Lace

release year: 1944
genre: comedy
viewing setting: home DVD 1/29/13

synopsis: Hardcore bachelor Mortimer has finally changed his ways and gotten married and is leaving for his honeymoon within the hour...until he finds out that his sweet old aunts have been murdering single men and burying them in the basement with the help of his likably-crazy younger brother...and then his murderous older brother shows up with an accomplice and another dead body to complicate things even further.

impressions: This is humor of a different sort than what we see now; it's dated but still funny. For example, not only is Mortimer stunned when he finds out that his dear old aunts have a dozen bodies buried in the basement, but even murderous brother Jonathan is also stunned when HE finds out. Or another time, the doctor is chiding Jonathan because the aunts have a body count equal to his. I'd first seen this in a film class in college in the 1980s, and it was funny then, and it's still funny now.

acting: Cary Grant is the guy who has to juggle all of this insanity and try to make the best outcome happen. Raymond Massey is the psychotic brother. Peter Lorre is the likeable doctor who's unfortunately fallen in with the brother. John Alexander is the other crazy brother, who does a great job of being Teddy Roosevelt. Priscilla Lane is Mortimer's new wife, who gets pushed to the side during all of this.

final word: Classic comedy from before my parents were born.

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