Arsenic and Old Lace

Mortimer Brewster, a newspaper drama critic, playwright and author known for his diatribes against marriage, suddenly falls in love and gets married; but when he makes a quick trip home to tell his two maiden aunts, he finds out his aunts’ hobby – killing lonely old men and burying them in the cellar!

Credits: TheMovieDb.

Film Cast:

  • Mortimer Brewster: Cary Grant
  • Elaine Harper Brewster: Priscilla Lane
  • Jonathan Brewster: Raymond Massey
  • Officer Patrick O’Hara: Jack Carson
  • Mr. Witherspoon: Edward Everett Horton
  • Dr. Einstein: Peter Lorre
  • Lt. Rooney: James Gleason
  • Aunt Abby Brewster: Josephine Hull
  • Aunt Martha Brewster: Jean Adair
  • ‘Teddy Roosevelt’ Brewster: John Alexander
  • Reverend Harper: Grant Mitchell
  • Sergeant Brophy: Edward McNamara
  • Taxi Cab Driver: Garry Owen
  • Officer Saunders: John Ridgely
  • Judge Cullman: Vaughan Glaser
  • Dr. Gilchrist: Chester Clute
  • Reporter at Marriage License Office: Charles Lane
  • Gibbs: Edward McWade
  • Photographer at Marriage License Office (uncredited): Hank Mann
  • Marriage License Clerk: Spencer Charters
  • New York Pitcher (uncredited): Sol Gorss
  • Umpire (uncredited): Lee Phelps
  • Drummer at baseball game (uncredited): Raymond Walburn
  • Young Man in Line (uncredited): Spec O’Donnell
  • Man in Phone Booth (uncredited): Leo White

Film Crew:

  • Producer: Frank Capra
  • Producer: Jack L. Warner
  • Theatre Play: Joseph Kesselring
  • Screenplay: Julius J. Epstein
  • Screenplay: Philip G. Epstein
  • Special Effects: Robert Burks
  • Original Music Composer: Max Steiner
  • Editor: Daniel Mandell
  • Costume Design: Orry-Kelly
  • Makeup Artist: Perc Westmore
  • Art Direction: Max Parker
  • Sound: C.A. Riggs
  • Orchestrator: Hugo Friedhofer
  • Original Music Composer: Leo F. Forbstein
  • Director of Photography: Sol Polito
  • Makeup Artist: George Bau
  • Special Effects: Byron Haskin
  • Unit Production Manager: Eric Stacey
  • Sound Mixer: Everett Alton Brown
  • Additional Camera: Wesley Anderson
  • Assistant Director: Russell Saunders
  • Still Photographer: Mickey Marigold
  • Grip: Harold Noyes
  • Makeup Artist: John Wallace
  • Unit Publicist: Bob Fender

Movie Reviews:

  • John Chard: Frenetic roller-coaster ride – Capra style!

    The Broadway show this film is based on ran for something like four years, such was the yearning for riotous rompathons in the 40s, and thus here the Capra adaptation is pretty much non stop mania. Led by the perfectly cast Cary Grant, the film barely pauses for breath, stopping only briefly to put a bit of creepy menace into the otherwise insane plot. Oh yes the plot, the elderly Brewster sisters are the dear hearts of the neighbourhood, but what folk don’t realise is that they are poisoning elderly male visitors to their home to save them from being lonely! This sets us up for romps as nephew Mortimer (Grant) lurches from one incredulous scene to another upon finding out about his dear Aunt’s penchant for murder.

    Peter Lorre & Raymond Massey add to the madness upon visiting the house, whilst John Alexander almost steals the film as the barmy uncle who thinks he is Theodore Roosevelt! But it’s Grant’s show all the way, rarely will you see an actor express so many faces of incredulity with such mirthful results as what Grant gives us here. A joyous performance from the great man. Directed with all the sharpness and knowing of tones we expect from Frank Capra, the film is an out and out joy. So be sure to wear a corset to stop your sides from splitting. 9/10

  • barrymost: There are thirteen bodies in the cellar! Oh, piffle.

    Drama critic Mortimer Brewster has just gotten married. But his newfound wedded bliss is interrupted by the disturbing discovery that his sweet old spinster aunts have been murdering lonely old men with their homemade elderberry wine, and burying the bodies in the cellar. This demented screwball comedy was the film that introduced me to Cary Grant. The utterly black comedic treatment never gets old, and the laughs never let up. Every time he gets another surprise, Grant puts on a slightly different flustered expression. Peter Lorre and Raymond Massey, as the villains of the piece, are very amusingly sinister, and the spinster aunts Brewster are utterly charming, in spite of their, uh, somewhat morbid hobby. It’s a hilariously insane romp from the brilliant director of some of America’s greatest films, Frank Capra. Do yourself a favor and watch it already! Prepare to laugh nonstop. As Mortimer Brewster says, “Insanity runs in my family. It practically gallops!”

Leave a Reply