Arsenic and Old Lace

January 28, 2012 4 Min Read

Review by: Zach B.

Plot: What’s it about?

Mortimer Brewster (Cary Grant) is an outspoken drama critic who’s getting hitched to the beautiful Elaine (Priscilla Lane). Mortimer is a pretty private person, and due to his negative writings on matrimony, getting a marriage license is not easy, and he tries to do it in a quiet manner. Still, with the press looking on, it’s not good. But the two eventually get married, and we learn a little about Brewster’s crazy family. One of his brothers thinks he is Teddy Roosevelet and the other is sociopath. He also has two aunts, who are actually serial killers who specialize in destroying lonely old men. Mortimer learns this, and things get a lot worse.

I won’t divulge anymore into the plot because I don’t want to give anything a way, but if you have never heard of this movie, it actually is a comedy, and considered a classic. The film is based on a broadway play by Joseph Kesselring, and this film adapation still holds up well after over 50 years. It’s an excellent farce which stands really well. It’s funny and really entertaining.

The movie was directed by Frank Capra, who among other movies, is probably best known for the Holiday classic “It’s A Wonderful Life”. His direction here is really good, and brings a good style to the movie. The script, adapted by Julis and Philip Epstein, is really well done. It brings a really nice tone and has captured a good esscence for the story and setting, as well as characters.

Still, what I probably like best about the film is the acting. Everyone shines in their respected roles. Josephine Hull and Jean Adair make great, scheming aunts and John Alexander is a scream as the brother who thinks he is Teddy Roosevelt. But the crown jewel is Cary Grant, who brings this role to life and makes it very believable. It’s a joy to watch Grant, his acting skills are really good.

If you have never seen this farce, it’s a very good watch. I know some might turn it away automatically due to how old it is, but please don’t. You may be pleasently surprised.

Video: How does it look?

I didn’t know what to expect due to how old the movie is, but Warner has done a fantastic job of cleaning it up. Yes, artifacts and dirt are pretty abundant, and there is some slight shimmer. Other than that it looks really clear and nice. The film is presented in full frame, about 1.37:1, the original way it was presented in theaters.

Audio: How does it sound?

The original mono track is included, and it does sound really nice. There is some slight hiss, but you probably won’t notice it. Dialogue is clear and easy to hear, and nothing sounds enhanced or anything, it basically sounds restored, not old or anything. A very nice job here.

Supplements: What are the extras?

Warner has included some short production notes for your viewing. It basically tells about Capra wanting to do the movie for the screen and when and how much it was made for. Not as extensive as most Warner production notes are, but it is good for a little background. An excellent movie now graces the DVD format, with nice video and audio, but a lack of supplements. If you enjoyed this classic, pick it up for your collection.

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