Arsenic and Old Lace (1944) is a very-long-time favorite of mine. I might even go so far as to say it is my favorite black & white movie ever.
This film was based off the Broadway play of the same name that opened in 1941 & is considered black (or dark) comedy. The movie was filmed within 8 weeks in 1941, but didn’t release until after the stage production closed in 1944. Josephine Hull, Jean Adair, and John Alexander were given leaves of absence from their performances as Abby, Martha, and Teddy Brewster in the Broadway production so that they could play the same roles in the film. And they did a splendid job of it too! 😉
(And… I was gonna write more, but I’m having some serious internet issues here so— not gonna happen. Sorry. )
~ Starring ~
~ Storyline ~
Despite having written several books ridiculing marriage as an “old-fashioned superstition”, Mortimer Brewster falls in love with Elaine Harper, who grew up next door to him in Brooklyn, and they marry. Immediately after the wedding, Mortimer visits the eccentric but lovable relatives who raised him and who still live in his old family home: his elderly aunts Abby and Martha, and his brother Teddy, who believes he is Theodore Roosevelt. Mortimer finds a corpse hidden in a window seat and assumes that Teddy has committed murder under some delusion, but his aunts explain that they are responsible. They explain in the most innocent terms that they have developed what Mortimer calls the “very bad habit” of ending the presumed suffering of lonely old bachelors by wine spiked with poison. The bodies are buried in the basement by Teddy, who believes he is digging locks for the Panama Canal and burying yellow fever victims. To complicate matters further, Mortimer’s brother Jonathan arrives with his alcoholic accomplice, plastic surgeon Dr. Einstein. Jonathan is a murderer trying to escape the police and find a place to dispose of the corpse of his latest victim. While Elaine waits at her family home next door for Mortimer to take her on their honeymoon, Mortimer makes increasingly frantic attempts to stay on top of the situation, including multiple efforts to alert the bumbling local cops to the threat Jonathan poses, as well as to get the paperwork filed that will have Teddy declared legally insane and committed to a mental asylum.
~ See For Yourself ~