A Window into Life in the Suburbs

"Consider how the lilies grow. They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you, not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these." Luke 12:27 (NIV)

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

On Video: Arsenic and Old Lace (1944)

I'm racking my brains trying to remember if I've ever seen Cary Grant outside of a Hitchcock film because I don't ever remember him being this laugh-out-loud funny ever. I've been accustomed to seeing him do a suave turn with beyootiful lasses on his arm so this is all a bit of a surprise. I'm not exaggerating when I say that I'm stunned by his comedic talents here... I really didn't know he had it in him.
Grant is delightful in this macabre, madcap comedy based on a play of the same name by Joseph Kesslering. I picked this up at the library mainly because it had Frank Capra plastered on the cover. Capra, is without argument, one of Hollywood's greatest directors and he's one of my favourites. There are a number of noteworthy Capra-esque elements that has the director's fingerprints all over it but it doesn't take away from the terrific acting by every single cast member.

Mortimer Brewster, the character played by Grant, is a newly married writer who returns to the family home to inform his closest relations that he's off to his honeymoon. Unknown to him, his aunts (Abby and Martha) are kindly serial killers serving poisoned elderberry to lonely old men in order to end their misery. His uncle, who is generally harmless, thinks he is Teddy Roosevelt and spends a lot of time in the cellar digging and burying bodies in what he thinks is the Panama Canal.
Quite by accident, Mortimer discovers a dead body in the house and  much of the rest of the plot sees him frenetically trying to cover up for his loony relatives.
To make matters worse, Mortimer's psychotic killer, Boris-Karloff look-a-like brother, Jonathan (Raymond Massey), returns home after 20 years with his cosmetic surgeon (Peter Lorre), looking for a place to dump a corpse. Needless to say it's not his first.
Chaos and hilarity ensues with a freakshow of cops, unsuspecting visitors and doctors parading through the house oblivious to the home grown cemetry downstairs.

The script is very funny and the dialogue is glorious. Definitely worth a look if death humour doesn't bother you too much.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Let me know what you think!