Monday, October 18, 2010

"Insanity Runs in My Family. It Practically Gallops"

There are plenty of Halloween movies out there: It's the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown is one of the animated classics; Hocus Pocus stands as a family favorite on the live action side of things. Horror movies abound: Halloween, of course, but also House on Haunted Hill (the 1959 original, starring master spookster Vincent Price), anything from Boris Karloff or Bela Lugosi, and a spate of others. If it's charm and wit you're looking for, though, you'll need to go back to 1944 for Arsenic and Old Lace.

There are many factors to recommend this film. To begin with, Frank Capra directed it, and he was only, you know, a complete master, having directed such classics as It Happened One Night, Mr. Smith Goes to Washington, and It's a Wonderful Life, as well as contributed to the documentary War Comes to America. So right off you know this movie's going to be worth a viewing. Also, I commend the supporting cast, headed up by Raymond Massey and featuring the ever-unfortunate but always spectacular Peter Lorre as well as Josephine Hull (who later played Elwood P. Dowd's neurotic sister Veta opposite James Stewart in Harvey) and John Alexander, whose turn as Teddy Roosevelt--supposedly insane but actually the calmest person in the whole film--stands, for me, as a truly great performance. 

The star, though, is Cary Grant. Everything about him is perfect here: the timing, the facial expressions, the delivery of each line. His flustered and gallant portrayal of Mortimer Brewster should have earned him an Oscar nomination but, sadly, did not. (Word on the street is that he felt the performance was too over-the-top, but I heartily disagree.)

Arsenic and Old Lace stands as a favorite of mine, Halloween or not. Have you seen it?

Image via the Internet Movie Database.



  1. Cary Grant is a total hottie.

    But you already knew that.

  2. Actually, I DID know that, but it's always good to hear again!

  3. Also, I think "Cary Grand is a total hottie" should be a tag.

  4. Okay, so here's what I've done: there are three new tags, including "Cary Grant is a total hottie," "William Howard Taft does not approve" (which only makes sense if you've seen the movie), and "Teddy Roosevelt definitely approves." Yes?