Title: Arsenic And Old Lace
Language: English, German
Director: Frank Capra
Julius J. Epstein
Philip G. Epstein
Music: Max Steiner
Cinematography: Sol Polito
Edward Everett Horton
Frank Capra’s homicidal farce adapted from a sensational Broadway play in the 40’s, its film version was quite successful in the box office as well at that time and has preserved its classic status until today.
Frank Capra is my favorite Hollywood director of the Golden Age and I keep consistently watching his opuses all these years and will continue in the future too. Arsenic And Old Lace is among his finest works without doubt, nevertheless the theatrical attribute on the contrary hampers the film from fetching its altitude which it should had reached. To to specific, what I mean is the tempo for the audience to assimilate the entire plot is in haste despite of its 118-minutes running time, all the characters seem to convey their performances in a rapid speed without rendering much time for us to ruminate, lest we would sense its logically inconsequent absurdities.
I was enlightened to watch the first half of the film, the two innocently murderous Brewster aunties are truly one of a kind (thanks to Josephine Hull and Jean Adair’s sincerely over-the-top performances), on the other hand, the main protagonist Cary Grant is physically engaged himself into the play while the awkwardness residually shows off as if himself is aware of the unedifying plot and wish it would finish asap. Raymond Massey, who replaced Boris Karloff in the film version, put on a new look as a mimicry of Boris and being the sole villain in the film, his presence and the conversations between him and Peter Lorre (the short and coward doctor from Germany) establish a fresh yet scaring B-film flavor, which pitifully diminishes under the pressure of the pervasively farcical aura.
After all, I have no intention and ability to make an essay to discuss the love-hate relationship between play and film, however I am conscious that maybe I am a lesser theatrical enthusiast as I thought, which is definitely new for me.