Arsenic and Old Lace
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Arsenic and Old Lace is director Frank Capra's spin on the classic Joseph Kesselring stage comedy, which concerns the sweet old Brewster sisters (Josephine Hull, Jean Adair), beloved in their genteel Brooklyn neighborhood for their many charitable acts. One charity which the ladies don't advertise is their ongoing effort to permit lonely bachelors to die with smiles on their faces--by serving said bachelors elderberry wine spiked with arsenic. When the sisters' drama-critic nephew Mortimer (Cary Grant) stumbles onto their secret, he is understandably put out--especially since he… More

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Rotten Tomatoes Score: 92%

Critic Reviews from Rotten Tomatoes

"Despite the fact that picture runs 118 minutes, Frank Capra has expanded on the original play [by Joseph Kesselring] to a sufficient extent to maintain a steady, consistent pace."
‑ Variety Staff, Variety
"Dusty but gentle entertainment."
‑ Geoff Andrew, Time Out
"Cary Grant serial-killer comedy classic is cozy and tame."
‑ Charles Cassady, Common Sense Media
"Charge! off to see this classic Capra screwballer."
‑ Steve Crum, Kansas City Kansan
"Nowhere near the play, but fun and fast"
‑ Ken Hanke, Mountain Xpress (Asheville, NC)
"The timing is abysmal throughout, turning fast pace into numbing frenzy."
‑ Dave Kehr, Chicago Reader
"Cary Grant et al are on sparkling form in this classic darkly twisted comedy."
‑ David Parkinson, Empire Magazine
"Riotously funny."
‑ , TV Guide's Movie Guide
"has stood the test of time to remain as funny today as anything Hollywood is producing now."
‑ Scott Nash, Three Movie Buffs
" of the staples of black comedy for stage and screen."
‑ John J. Puccio, Movie Metropolis
"Good macabre fun."
‑ , New York Times
"The film was adapted from a successful stage play and it comes across as very theatrical on screen, but once you get past that, there's an enjoyable lunacy to the whole thing."
‑ , Film4
"Unable to conceal the film's theatrical origins, Capra misfires as a director and misguides Cary Garnt, who's too mannered, but the time, the combo of horror and comedy was new and the old ladies' gruseome hobby was shocking to audiences."
‑ Emanuel Levy, EmanuelLevy.Com
"Not one of Capra's best. Grant is too hammy and out of control, and without Boris Karloff as Jonathan Brewster, the joke is lost."
‑ Bob Bloom, Journal and Courier (Lafayette, IN)
"Arsenic and Old Lace (1944) is a frenzied, hilarious, madcap black comedy from celebrated director Frank Capra"
‑ Tim Dirks, Tim Dirks' The Greatest Films
More reviews for Arsenic and Old Lace on Rotten Tomatoes