Sunday, October 3, 2010

Arsenic and Old Lace

directed by Frank Capra

This play/film is supposedly loosely based on the convalescent home in Windsor, Ct and Amy Archer in the early 1900s (see The Devil's Rooming House). But, truly, there are no similarities.

"Arsenic and Old Lace," written by Joseph Kesselring, is a dark comedy about two old ladies - sisters - who take in one boarder at a time, a lonely old man, and kill him, practically instantly, with a concoction of elderberry wine, arsenic, strychnine, and cyanide, as a favor, a service to the lonely man and to the community. And then it gets screwy. It's funny, but it is beyond ridiculous. I was with them until the bit about Jonathan and Dr. Einstein. Then it got a little confusing and nonsensical. I also think this would be funnier to see as a play, as opposed to the film version.

Kesselring was perhaps inspired by the Windsor, Ct murders, but that is where the connection ends. I don't know why M. William Phelps dwelled on it in his book.

It's a loony movie. See it or don't. I'd say it's worth it just to look at Cary Grant.

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