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mdtinney's Movie Reviews (315)

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Arsenic and Old Lace 
One of the funniest movies ever. A pure classic!
3.5/4 stars

Brilliantly brought from screen to stage, "Arsenic and Old Lace" is as funny today as it was 60 years ago. Newlywed Mortimer Brewster receives the worst of all wedding gifts - he finds out everyone in his family is completely nuts. He knew about his murdering brother Jonathan, who disappeared, and his uncle who thinks he's Teddy Roosevelt. But it's not until he finds a body in his aunts' window seat that he learns that his elderly aunts have been poisoning old men and burying them in the cellar.
Josephine Hull and Jean Adair, who performed the aunts on Broadway, are perfection. Cary Grant's Mortimeris a masterpiece. His reactions to his situation are astonishing. For me it is one of his great performances. Raymond Massey as the returning Jonathan, who now looks like Boris Karloff since his plastic surgery, is hilariously menacing, and Peter Lorre, as the surgeon Dr. Einstein, is a perfect foil for him. He does a lot with his gestures - he's a riot. The cast is rounded out by Priscilla Lane, James Gleason, Edward Everett Horton, and Jack Carson, all of whom are marvelous in their roles. Capra brings it all together in a fast-moving film where there is always something going on. This is a hilarious movie. During the introduction on TCM, Peter Bogdanovich mentioned that Boris Karloff could not play the role of Jonathan, which he did on Broadway, because he was actually performing on Broadway at the time. I thought I had read elsewhere that he was actually very upset that he wasn't cast in the role of a man who looks like Boris Karloff. It would have been great to see him. Nevertheless, this film is a true treasure.


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