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Arsenic And Old Lace [DVD] [1944]


Price: £4.75 & FREE Delivery in the UK on orders over £10. Details
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Arsenic And Old Lace [DVD] [1944] + Bringing Up Baby [DVD] + His Girl Friday [1940] [DVD]
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Product details

  • Actors: Cary Grant, Priscilla Lane, Raymond Massey, Jack Carson, Edward Everett Horton
  • Directors: Frank Capra
  • Writers: Joseph Kesselring, Julius J. Epstein, Philip G. Epstein
  • Producers: Frank Capra, Jack L. Warner
  • Format: PAL
  • Language: English, German
  • Subtitles: English, Arabic, Bulgarian, Dutch, French, German, Italian, Romanian, Portuguese, Spanish
  • Region: Region 2 (This DVD may not be viewable outside Europe. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 4:3 - 1.33:1
  • Number of discs: 1
  • Classification: PG
  • Studio: Warner Home Video
  • DVD Release Date: 7 May 2001
  • Run Time: 114 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (97 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B000056BB9
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 2,320 in DVD & Blu-ray (See Top 100 in DVD & Blu-ray)

Reviews

Product Description

DVD Special Features:

Interactive Menus
Scene Access
Trailer
Languages in Mono: English, French, Italian
Subtitles: English, French, Italian, Dutch, Arabic, Spanish, Portuguese, German, Romanian, Bulgarian, English for the hearing impaired, Italian for the hearing impaired.

From Amazon.co.uk

In 1941, when Frank Capra filmed Arsenic and Old Lace, he was in the midst of his string of social-concern pictures. So this uncharacteristic property must have seemed like a vacation; it's a straight farce, played at full tilt and closely adapted from the Broadway play. Almost all of the action takes place on a single set: the old home of the Brewster sisters (Josephine Hull and Jean Adair), those dear, dotty old ladies who mix up a very special elderberry wine. Very special. As their nephew Mortimer (Cary Grant) discovers on the eve of his wedding, the two ladies have been spiking the wine with poison and sending lonely gentleman callers off to the great beyond. More specifically, they've been burying them in the cellar with the help of nutty Uncle Teddy, who thinks he's Teddy Roosevelt (and thus digging the Panama Canal down in the basement). The ominous happenings are made more sinister with the arrival of another menacing relative (RaymondMassey) and his quack doctor (Peter Lorre), who look and act like refugees from a horror movie. Played completely over the top, this movie offers up lots of bracing slapstick, with Grant run to near exhaustion by the galloping insanity of his family. Although Capra shot the film in 1941, prior to his making military films during World War II, the film was not released until 1944; the contract stipulated that the movie not come out before the play ended its enormously successful run. --Robert Horton --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Customer Reviews

4.6 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By M. J. Wright on 6 Dec 2011
Format: DVD
This movie was originally staged as a Broadway comedy, and it shows. Fast paced dialogue, sudden entries and exits, tons of dramatic irony and lots of physical humour all contribute to an hilarious climax. All the action proceeds on a single set, as the hapless Cary Grant tries to manage an increasingly insane and homicidal set of relatives. All this on a Brooklyn Halloween, with the taxi driver waiting next to the cemetry outside. Don't worry, even the most menacing character is absurd or sweet enough to take any sense of horror away, and everything is played for laughs, not screams. A gem of its kind, from a gentler age, when relationships and relatives could be relied on to be sweet, most of the time.
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35 of 38 people found the following review helpful By Andy Millward VINE VOICE on 19 Oct 2003
Format: DVD
You would have to be suicidal or made of granite not to warm to Frank Capra's finest films. Everybody loves It's a Wonderful Life for its life-affirming humanity, but Arsenic and Old Lace is just a good old-fashioned farce which by 1944 standards must have seemed inky black in its treatment of death. The years have been kind to this film - it has matured beautifully and simply leaves a big wide smile on your face.
However, there is plenty more on offer: Cary Grant may be gloriously over the top, but the splendidly observed supporting performances can be treasured. In particular, Josephine Hull and Jean Adair at the two aunts, Raymond Massey as the homicidal brother and Peter Lorre as his fussy and fragile plastic surgeon.
This is simple escapist entertainment relying on age-old virtues of good script, timing, acting ability and top notch direction - who needs computer-generated special effects anyway!
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By bernie TOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on 15 Dec 2004
Format: DVD
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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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful By Gavieboy on 30 Sep 2006
Format: DVD
This must rank up there as one of the funniest movies ever made; certianly one of Grant's best; it slick black humour and slapstick comedy is the driving force behind its appeal; it never lets up on the laughs from begining to end; a pure delight to watch again and again.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful By T. Williams on 27 April 2007
Format: DVD
I bought this film on the strength of Capra's back catalogue of great titles such as It's a Wonderful Life, It Happened One Night and Mr Smith Goes to Washington. I did not know the story and what to expect and was quickly enchanted by this masterpiece. Funny, at times pleasantly spooky, great performances from every actor involved (and a Karloff look-alike to boot), and a cracking screenplay from the Epstein brothers (Casablanca) all combine to create one of the best comedies ever made.
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39 of 47 people found the following review helpful By Mr. N. Carnegie HALL OF FAMEVINE VOICE on 21 Oct 2001
Format: DVD
This is a classic farce masterfully directed by Frank Capra and starring Cary Grant as a lifelong batchelor trying to get married but having trouble with his literally insane family. That's about all you need to know to want to buy this movie BUT the big dissapointment with this movie is that it is in colour when it was shot in black and white. Why do they do this? Most people want to see a movie as the director meant it to be seen and before his death Frank Capra himself expressed his displeasure at the adding of colour to his classic movies and it is a classic. The choice is yours...
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Format: DVD
I first saw Arsenic and Old Lace on stage in a very small local theatre in upstate New York whilst on holiday. Set entirely in the living room of the Aunt's house I thought it was a great show and very clever premise.

When I saw the DVD I just had to buy it, although on first watching I was not so pleased with the few scenes outside of the house such as at the beginning when he is trying to get his marriage licence, but the more I have watched it the more I have loved it.

The characters are so well written, and once it gets going, it really does fly along at a great pace. I am not too familiar with other Cary Grant movies, but I think he is really good in this.

I am not sure what everyone is talking about with a "colour" version, as mine is in Black & White only! (How can you make a black and white film into colour anyway???)

I have to give it full marks. And if you haven't seen it, then it's definitely worth a punt!

Bottom line: Watch it, love it, recommend it :-)
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8 of 10 people found the following review helpful By C. O. DeRiemer HALL OF FAMETOP 1000 REVIEWER on 12 Aug 2007
Format: DVD
Mortimer Brewster (Cary Grant) has a problem. He's a newspaper critic known for his complaints about marriage, who just got married. Before the news breaks he wants to tell his two nice, elderly aunts, but when he arrives at their home he discovers the aunts have a combination hobby and charity. They poison lonely old men, then have them buried in their basement by their addled brother who thinks he's Teddy Roosevelt. "Teddy" is concerned about all those yellow fever deaths, but digging the locks for the canal provides a logical burial place. When Mortimer discovers his aunts' 13th work of charity in a window seat, his troubles are just beginning. Showing up unexpectedly is Mortimer's criminal brother, Jonathan (Raymond Massey), an escaped psycho who, thanks to the botched facial surgery of his partner, Dr. Einstein (Peter Lorre), now resembles Boris Karloff. And wandering in and out are some great character actors, including Jack Carson as a play-writing cop, James Gleason as a police superintendent, Edward Everett Horton as the head of a home for the insane, and Grant Withers as a bemused clergyman.

What could not be funny with such a setup and with such actors? Well...Cary Grant, in my view, nearly does the movie in. Grant (or Frank Capra) seems to think playing farce means squatting and walking like a chimpanzee, talking as loudly and fast as possible, and mugging broadly for the camera at every opportunity. There are many good things in this movie, but, for me, Grant overacts, something he rarely did in his other films. I suppose the blame rests with Capra.

Hull, Adair and John Alexander who plays Teddy originated their parts in the stage presentation. One of the funny conceits was that playing Jonathan on Broadway actually was Boris Karloff.
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