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Saturday, February 20, 2016

Arsenic & Old Lace (1969 & 1944) Lillian Gish, Helen Hayes, Cary Grant, Bob Crane, Fred Gwynne


 




Arsenic and Old Lace is a 1944 American dark comedy film directed by Frank Capra, starring Cary Grant, and based on Joseph Kesselring's play Arsenic and Old Lace. The script adaptation was by Julius J. Epstein and Philip G. Epstein.

Capra actually filmed the movie in 1941 because of star Cary Grant's availability, but it was not released until 1944, after the original stage version had finished its run on Broadway. The lead role of Mortimer Brewster was originally intended for Bob Hope, but he could not be released from his contract with Paramount. Capra had also approached Jack Benny and Ronald Reagan before learning that Grant would accept the role. 

Boris Karloff played Jonathan Brewster, who "looks like Karloff," on the Broadway stage, but he was unable to do the movie as well because he was still appearing in the play during filming, and Raymond Massey took his place.

The film's supporting cast also features Priscilla Lane, Jack Carson, Edward Everett Horton and Peter Lorre.

Josephine Hull and Jean Adair portray the Brewster sisters, Abby and Martha, respectively. Hull and Adair, as well as John Alexander (who played Teddy Roosevelt), were reprising their roles from the 1941 stage production.

Hull and Adair both received an eight-week leave of absence from the stage production that was still running, but Karloff did not as he was an investor in the stage production and its main draw. The entire film was shot within those eight weeks. The film cost just over $1.2 million of a $2 million budget to produce.








Lillian Gish & Helen Hayes ~ Arsenic & Old Lace (1969) Bob Crane & Fred Gwynne
co-starring Billy De Wolfe, Richard Deacon, Bob Dishy, Jack Gilford, Sue Lyon, Elaine Harper & David Wayne

Aired: April 2nd, 1969 - ABC Movie of the Week
Director: Robert Scheerer
Writers: Luther Davis, Joseph Kesselring (play)

NOTE: The original aired in Color. This DVD is from a Black and White 16mm master -- 16mm screening print for advertisers, television stations, etc. It resembles the 1944 version more than one could imagine because of that. Complete, un-cut ~ perfect!

“It's hard, if not impossible, to remake a classic. Since its theatrical release in 1944 only one attempt has been made to remake Frank Capra's ‘Arsenic and Old Lace’ and the fact that it came in the form of a "made for TV" movie made it seem, at first glance, even greater sacrilege. The production is, nonetheless, first class. Bob Crane (Hogan's Heroes) just shines as the befuddled newlywed Mortimer Brewster, suddenly confronted with the fact that his gene pool was more like a fetid DNA swamp of psychotic chromosomes. Careful updating of the original play only served to make it perhaps more appealing to contemporary audiences without detracting from the perfection of its predecessor. Casting was beyond reproach. Who could possibly protest Lillian Gish and Helen Hayes (Academy Award Winners) as the sweet, dotty albeit homicidal aunts or Fred Gwynne (The Munsters) as the ominous brother Jonathan. This version is seldom if ever shown but if you ever get a chance to see it, do. It is an updated interpretation of the original and every bit as good.”

2 DVDs
$9.99 (USA & Intl) 1 DVD
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