ARSENIC AND OLD LACE (1944)
Movie Review from ElCriticon-AlohaCriticon
Frank Capra’s popularity is generally known by his famous and excellent social fables in tone of dramatic comedy (You Can’ t Take It With You or Meet John Doe). These movies are narrated with a fluent and isochronous rhythm, without breaks, but also without being overly frenetic. That cadence was reserved for this moment.
Arsenic And Old Lace is based on a work of playwright Joseph Kesselring which premiered with great success on Broadway. The Hollywood’s producers brought the angelic aunts Josephine Hill and Jean Adair, plus John Alexander, the nutter brother who believes he’s Teddy Roosevelt, from New York to California. Unfortunately they were not able to get Boris Karloff, who was replaced by Raymond Massey in an amusing Karloff-esque characterization.
Cary Grant, in one of his best performances, really enjoyed with this movie. He played freely improvising and overacting in the limited stage. All the actors did an excellent job, especially Massey and a hilarious Peter Lorre as doctor Einstein.
The action of this wonderful screwball and black comedy keeps a frantic pace with funny situations and a masterly grasp of space and time by Capra. The script, with enlightening and fast dialogues, was written by the brothers Julius and Philip Epstein, and the music was composed by Max Steiner.