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Arsenic and Old Lace

Cary Grant , Priscilla Lane , Frank Capra    DVD
4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (56 customer reviews)
Price: CDN$ 47.97
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Product Description

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Frank Capra made this film in 1941 before he went off to make films for America's war effort, but it wasn't released until 1944. Adapted from the hit play by Joseph Kesselring, this frantic black comedy shows Capra at his best as a master of mood and timing. Actresses Josephine Hull and Jean Adair reprise their Broadway performances as two gentle old ladies who poison men with elderberry wine to put them out of their misery. Cary Grant plays one nephew, a normal guy who just gets wind of their little hobby and tries to get them to stop, while Raymond Massey plays another, a villain just escaped from jail. Capra encourages the cast, especially Grant, to give a somewhat more outsized performance than one might expect. But made during the war years as it was, this overstated comic approach to killing was probably cathartic. --Tom Keogh

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Customer Reviews

Most helpful customer reviews
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Great stars in this black comedic farce! Sept. 26 2009
By Robert Badgley TOP 500 REVIEWER
Format:DVD
Arsenic and Old Lace starring a bevy of fine performers,was released three years after it was in the can.A remake of a Broadway play of the same name by J. Kesselring,it lifted three of the plays three principals John Alexander,(Teddy Brewster),Jean Adair(Martha Brewster) and Josephine Hull(Abby Brewster) and plunked them down amongst a stellar cast of Hollywood thesps such as Cary Grant(Mortimer Brewster),Priscilla Lane(Elaine Harper),Raymond Massey(Jonathan Brewster),Peter Lorre(Dr Einstein),Edward Everette Horton(Dr Witherspoon),Jack Carson(Officer O'Hara) and many other fine supporting players.The film makers also wanted Boris Karloff to reprise his Broadway role as Jonathan Brewster but he refused the offer(he had a monetary interest in the play).
The story involves writer Mortimer Brewster(Grant)who writes books on the pitfalls of marriage.It opens with him and his girlfriend Elaine(Lane)trying to get hitched!It is against his better judgment but Cupids' arrow is firmly planted and there's no escape for him.On the way to their honeymoon destination of Niagara Falls,the now married couple stop off at Elaine's home, which is also near Mortimers' aunts home.They both part to break the news to their relatives;Elaine to her father and Mortimer to his aunts Abby and Martha.
His aunts are elated at the news but Mortimer is dumbfounded upon finding a body in the window seat.His aunts are nonplussed as they calmly tell him they poisoned the former lodger plus 12 more that are now buried in the basement.
Going back and forth between total apoplexy and controlled confusion Mortimer tries to somehow get a handle on events as they unfold.
It seems Mortimer' brother Teddy(who thinks he is Teddy Roosevelt,complete with horn blowing and a charge up San Juan Hill!
Read more ›
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5.0 out of 5 stars A fun Halloween story Oct. 1 2006
By bernie TOP 100 REVIEWER
Format:VHS Tape
I have seen this movie dozens of times on TV. The problem is they always cut out a lot of the little nuances that make the movie fun; sometimes it is curtail to the story. Now you can see the whole story in its entirety. Lots of sight gags and relies on many expressions to convey what they are thinking. If this looks like a play, that is because it is a play. It was written by Joseph Kesserling and opened in New York City 10 JAN 41. It ran for 1,444 performances. Boris Karloff was an investor and the star attraction so he could not be released for the movie.

The story takes place all on Halloween night in Brooklyn. Mortimer Brewster (Cary Grant) a critic, that wrote a scathing book about the negatives of marriage, gets married. He soon finds out about his families past and where the bodies are buried. Soon he is to be visited by his estranged or just strange brother (Raymond Massey). Seems that his brother and his brother's friend, Dr. Einstein (Peter Lorre), has some secrets of their own. Keep your eye on the elderberry wine.
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5.0 out of 5 stars A Halloween Classic! Nov. 5 2003
By A Customer
Format:VHS Tape
It has become a tradition in my house to watch ARSENIC AND OLD LACE every Halloween. The tale of the two Miss Brewsters who poison lonely old men as a charity act is so familiar that I don't need to summarize it again. The movie is a typical fast, funny 1940's comedy (it is based on the play by Joseph Kesselring, which I've also had the pleasure of seeing). Though some claim that Cary Grant overacts in this movie, I think that his over-the-top comedic style is ideally suited to this "screwball" farce. The rest of the cast, including Raymond Massey as an escaped convict in disguise ("He said I looked like Boris Karloff"), Peter Lorre as his cowardly little assistant, and especially Jack Carson as the hilariously clueless Officer O'Hara, is perfect. Oh, and I almost forgot to mention John Alexander as "Teddy" (he really DOES look like Teddy Roosevelt).
There is also a welcome appearance by the inimitable Edward Everett Horton as Mr. Witherspoon, the head of Happydale Insane Asylum, where some of the characters eventually end up! Halloween is over, but rent (or buy!) ARSENIC AND OLD LACE anyway. Be prepared to laugh!
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5.0 out of 5 stars A Halloween Classic! Nov. 5 2003
By A Customer
Format:VHS Tape
It has become a tradition in my house to watch ARSENIC AND OLD LACE every Halloween. The story of the two Miss Brewsters who murder lonely old men as a charity is so familiar that I don't need to summarize it again. This movie is a typical fast, funny 1940's comedy (it is based on the play by Joseph Kesselring, which I've also seen). Although some claim that Cary Grant overacts in this film, I think his over-the-top comedic style is perfectly suited to this "screwball" farce. The rest of the cast, including Raymond Massey as an escaped convict in disguise ("He said I looked like Boris Karloff"), Peter Lorre as his cowardly little assistant, and especially Jack Carson as the hilariously clueless Officer O'Hara, is perfect. Oh, and I almost forgot to mention John Alexander as "Teddy" (he DOES look exactly like Teddy Roosevelt). There is also a welcome appearance by the inimitable Edward Everett Horton as Mr. Witherspoon, the head of Happydale Insane Asylum, where some of the characters eventually end up! Halloween is over, but rent (or buy) ARSENIC AND OLD LACE anyway. Be prepared to laugh!
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5.0 out of 5 stars Hilarious! July 6 2002
By ehakus
Format:DVD
Arsenic and Old Lace is one of the funniest comedies of all time. Based on the hit Broadway show of the same name, it is about a drama critic who finds out that his aunts have been poisioning people (hence the title) out of a desire to help them (they only poison lonely old men) out of their misery. Anyhow, the dialogue is truly hilarious ("Insanity doesn't just run in the family - it practically gallops.") and the cast is great!
Even though Cary Grant, who played the lead role, always said he disliked his performance in Arsenic and Old Lace (he complained that Capra pushed him into overplaying instead of his usual more restrained style) I think he was excellent! His expressions are priceless, and it is impossible to keep a straight face while watching his frantic movements about the house. The aunts are also quite good, as are the actors playing the other crazy brothers.
All in all, this movie is a must have! If you haven't seen it already, you are in for a treat.
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Most recent customer reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Cary Grant & his Facial Expresssions
Cary carries the entire movie just with the lift of an eyebrow or a wide eyed terror-filled expression. His comic genius is apparent in this movie.
Published 4 months ago by Nancy Thornton
5.0 out of 5 stars You really need this in your classic movie collection
Cary Grant does some great comedy in this movie but the best is his two aunts who create the situations, a brother who complicates the situations, and for good measure, there is a... Read more
Published 6 months ago by R. Papp
5.0 out of 5 stars A good movie for Halloween season.
Finally on DVD. This is a treasure to own for Halloween. The quality of the DVD is very good. I definitely recommend this movie for your collection.
Published 9 months ago by Monique
5.0 out of 5 stars Arsenic and Old Lace DVD
I purchased this for my Mother for Christmas and I'm sure it will be a welcome addition since we watched this movie every time it was aired on television and thoroughly enjoyed it.
Published 10 months ago by Mary Lauzon
4.0 out of 5 stars Why not Haloween Classic
Gary Grant is the classic leading man known for his sauve looks. But he has a great since of humor and can laugh at himself and this picture proves it. Read more
Published 10 months ago by william stanton
5.0 out of 5 stars One of my favourite films!
Excellent!! How can you not love this classic film with the talents of Cary Grant, Josephine Hull, Jean Adair, Peter Lorre and a string of great artists!!
Published 12 months ago by Gerdog
5.0 out of 5 stars Arsenic and Old Lace - my favourite movie of all time
All the things i like about older movies: complex plot, great character development and dialogue, witty and funny. Read more
Published 18 months ago by DonnaB
2.0 out of 5 stars Arsenic and Old Lace
This movie will be appreciated by the older generation. The most humerous and unexpected scene is at the very end.Arsenic & Old Lace
Published on Feb. 17 2012 by Countrygirl
2.0 out of 5 stars 1944 farce not my cup of tea
i tried to watch this movie,but i couldn't get through it.that's not
because its a bad movie.rather,it's because movies were much different
back in 1944. Read more
Published on Sept. 4 2007 by falcon
5.0 out of 5 stars What a Hoot!
Watching this movie has become a Hallowe'en tradition in our family, just as "The Bishop's Wife" is now a Christmas tradition. Read more
Published on July 12 2006 by Seamatron
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