Arsenic and Old Lace
“Insanity runs in my family. It practically gallops.”
Now that we’re coming out of 80’s week, let’s jet back even farther in honor of Thanksgiving and holiday traditions. This next week I’m going to lovingly refer to as “Ye Olde” week. For me, Thanksgiving has always had a classic feel, and I thought what better to watch this week – with all the classics on television – thank some good old black and white films.
I realize I probably just lost half of you because most people my age and younger hate black and white films, so let me just say something about that in case you’re still reading. I get that some black and white films are slow moving, but if you love acting (I am a stickler for acting. As someone who was set on doing that with their life, I grew to be very passionate and particular about actors.), it’s important to watch old movies. In my opinion, actors from the 40s and 50s were significantly better than the majority of actors in film now. If you compare Katharine Hepburn, Irene Dunne, or Cary Grant to Olivia Wilde, Anne Hathaway, or Bradley Cooper, you see a significant difference (as in, the oldies are significantly better than the newbies). There was so much more focus back then on articulation and facial expression and raw, pure, acting talent. They didn’t have the computer capabilities that we have today, and soundtracks weren’t really a thing back then. There wasn’t as much emotional manipulation with music or color, it was all on the actors and writers. Some really beautiful films came out of that time period and they should be appreciated and not ignored.
Alright, now that I’ve had a tiny rant, let’s focus. Today’s movie is Arsenic and Old Lace. This dark comedy is funny, quirky, and suspenseful, while maintaining a fun feel throughout the film. It has just the right level of intensity and creepiness without overshadowing the comedy. One thing I like about this film is that each character is given the chance to be comedic. Typically, there’s one character who is the bland, straight character while one or two others are always comical. In Arsenic and Old Lace, almost every character (except, maybe, Jonathan Brewster) is funny and goofy at some point in the movie. I watched this for the first time in high school for a class assignment and I expected to hate it (much like The Breakfast Club), and instead fell absolutely in love with Cary Grant as an actor, and in love with this film. This movie is one of my favorite classics and I hope that even if you hate black and white films, you’ll give this one a chance.