Frank Capra, the father of screwball, mixes the madcap and the macabre with Arsenic and Old Lace starring Cary Grant
Here is another great movie for the Halloween spirit. Arsenic and Old Lace starring Cary Grant and Peter Lorre put into the mix should get your spirits in the right mood for Halloween. Get the latest spanking new branding from The Criterion Collection. Always doing justice to old classics and hard-to-find movies.
Frank Capra adapted a hit stage play for this marvelous screwball meeting of the madcap and the macabre. On Halloween, newly married drama critic Mortimer Brewster (Cary Grant, cutting loose in a hilariously harried performance) returns home to Brooklyn, where his adorably dotty aunts (Josephine Hull and Jean Adair, who both starred in the Broadway production) greet him with love, sweetness . . . and a grisly surprise: the corpses buried in their cellar.
A bugle-playing brother (John Alexander) who thinks he’s Teddy Roosevelt, a crazed criminal (Raymond Massey) who’s a dead ringer for Boris Karloff, and a seriously slippery plastic surgeon (Peter Lorre) is among the outré oddballs populating Arsenic and Old Lace. This diabolical delight only gets funnier as the body count rises.
Cary Grant considered his acting in this film to be horribly over the top and often called it his least favorite of all his movies.
Ronald Reagan and Jack Benny were offered the role of Mortimer Brewster, but turned it down. Bob Hope was offered the part and was eager to do it but Paramount Pictures refused to loan him out to Warner Bros. for the project. Director Capra also considered Richard Travis for the role.
- New, restored 4K digital transfer, with uncompressed monaural soundtrack on the Blu-ray
- New audio commentary featuring Charles Dennis, author of There’s a Body in the Window Seat!: The History of “Arsenic and Old Lace”
- Radio adaptation from 1952 starring Boris Karloff
- English subtitles for the deaf and hard of hearing
- PLUS: An essay by critic David Cairns
New cover by F. Ron Miller