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Arsenic and Old Lace [DVD] [1944]

4.7 out of 5 stars 168 customer reviews

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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, Full Screen, Black & White, Dolby, Digital Sound
  • Language: English
  • Subtitles: English, 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: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (168 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B000056BB9
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 3,565 in DVD & Blu-ray (See Top 100 in DVD & Blu-ray)

Product Description

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.

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: DVD Verified Purchase
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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By Mary Whipple HALL OF FAMETOP 500 REVIEWER on 13 Feb. 2005
Cary Grant is at his comic best in this off-the-wall Frank Capra film in which Grant plays Mortimer Brewster, a drama critic with a bizarre family. His brother Teddy (John Alexander) thinks he is Teddy Roosevelt and spends his time digging "locks for the Panama Canal" in the basement of the family home. His brother Jonathan (wonderfully played by Raymond Massey) has returned home with a dozen murders to his credit, looking like Frankenstein, thanks to the sinister plastic surgeon who accompanies him (Peter Lorre). His batty, elderly aunts (Jean Adair and Josephine Hull) put Teddy's "locks" to good use for their own "merciful" activities.
The frantic action, ironies, and the dramatic surprises all center around two bodies, hidden at various times in the window seat of the living room, and the reactions to them by the various people within the household. The local police, friends of Aunts Abby and Martha, stop by to chat, have coffee, and protect these "sweet" old ladies, often at the worst possible moments, while Mortimer tries to decide what to do about his strange family and the bodies in the house. Complicating the action is the fact that Mortimer has just that day married Elaine (Priscilla Lane), who lives next door. She keeps showing up at the house at the wrong moment, having no idea why Mortimer keeps kicking her out.
Sight gags, mistaken identity, contretemps, high-speed action, and split second timing make this one of the most outrageous, and hilarious black comedies ever filmed. The cast is perfect, and the acting is over-the-top, with a great deal of yelling, mugging, wide-eyed looks of surprise, feigned innocence, and even satire of the film industry as people repeatedly tell Jonathan he looks like Boris Karloff.
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Format: DVD Verified Purchase
Maybe Capra's masterpiece, even better than other most famous titles that help build his reputation (A wonderful life, It happened one night, Mr smith goes to Washington). This is where Capra shows his dark side, always in a funny and brilliant way, but still portraying the world as a place full of crazy people and where even church-going grannies can hide a murderous attitude. It is all put in a comical way, in order to allow Capra to talk about evil without disturbing or betraying his audience. And by doing so, he proves great noir skills, always perfectly mixed with exageration and surreal touch, resulting in a genious film that constantly swing between parody and thriller. A supermodern film that is far ahead of its times. Waiting for the blu ray to exhalt the beauty of its B/W. It also includes the italian dubbin, that is fantastic, as all the foreign movies dubbed in the old times, with fantastic voices that give actors a density and range of colors even better than the original. One of those films that I even prefer dubbed (and this is of course not a criticism towards original acting, that is top)
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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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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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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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