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Jonathan Jones
Jonathan Jones

Arsenic And Old Lace (1944)


Of course, Martha and Abby have a surprise of their own, though they don't intend to spring it on Mortimer. They have an unusual habit: The two women welcome men without family or a place to go with the promise of a room for rent.




Arsenic and Old Lace (1944)



Slapstick-y fistfight, including a bench-clearing baseball brawl at the start (that has nothing to do with anything). People get hit on the head a lot, including by police billy-club. Mortimer is tied up and threatened with death via surgical-scalpel torture, though nothing comes of it. Despite the many killings that have taken place, dead corpses are hardly even seen.


Herman leaves the police station, lonely and desolate, and finds himself in a place which could once have become familiar. Surrounded by second-hand memories and surgical equipment, he realises that the most important choice in his life has already been made for him.


They advertise a room for rent to lure in a victim, and then serve a cup of elderberry wine laced with arsenic, strychnine and a pinch of cyanide while getting acquainted with the man. Teddy, thinking the men have died of yellow fever they contracted while building the Panama Canal, buries the bodies in the basement.


Not that Grant is the only one to get the laughs in this movie. The Aunts explanation of how they murder the old gentlemen is classic. After telling Mortimer how they add Arsenic, Strychnine, and Cyanide to Elderberry wine (because 'it makes tea taste bitter'), they proudly add that 'one of the gentlemen even found time to say how nice it tasted before he died.' Based on a Broadway play, almost the entire movie takes place in the Aunt's sitting room, with the zany cast members popping and charging in and out of it. With such a limited set and a running length of 2 hours, you might think it could get dull, but with such a talented cast, the crackling dialogue, and Capra's directing touch, the movie zips right along. 041b061a72


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