Arsenic and Old Lace (1944)

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Title: Arsenic and Old Lace [IMDb]

Film Structure

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Release date: September 23, 1944
Studio: Warner Brothers
Runtime: 118 minutes
IMDB genres: comedy, crime, thriller
Award Nominations: Best Archival Re-Recording of an Existing Score
BYU holdings: https://search.lib.byu.edu/byu/record/lee.6768544

Synopsis [hide]

A Brooklyn writer of books on the futility of marriage risks his reputation when he decides to tie the knot. Things get even more complicated when he learns on his wedding day that his beloved maiden aunts are habitual murderers.

Plot keywords (from IMDb): 1940s, adoptee, arsenic, aspiring writer, asylum, aunt nephew relationship, bachelor, baseball, based on play, basement, bastard, black comedy, boarding house, bound and gagged, brooklyn new york city, brother brother relationship, cab driver, cellar, cemetery, corpse, costume, crazy, criminal, critic, cult film, cyanide, dark comedy, death, dramatic critic, drunken doctor, dysfunctional family, eccentric, elderberry wine, elderly, evil man, facial disfigurement, farce, fistfight, frankenstein, friendship, fugitive, grande dame guignol, grave, grave site, halloween, harpsichord, hidden corpse, honeymoon, husband wife relationship, insanity, irreverence, judge, lifting a female into the air, lifting an adult into the air, lifting someone into the air, madness, marriage, marriage license, mask, mass murderer, mental illness, murder, newlywed, old age, old house, orchestral music score, pet cat, photographer, physician, plastic surgeon, plastic surgery, poison, poisoned wine, poisoning, police, police officer, press, psychiatrist, reference to boris karloff, reference to brooklyn dodgers, reference to fiorello laguardia, reference to franklin d roosevelt, reference to george washington, reference to teddy roosevelt, reference to william howard taft, reporter, reverend, running, scar, screwball comedy, sergeant, serial killer, sibling rivalry, sister sister relationship, sitting, spectator, spinster, stadium, strychnine, surgical instruments, switchblade, taxi driver, telephone booth, throat slitting, toy, trick or treat, trumpeter, writer, new york city

Cast and Crew

Cary GrantMortimer Brewster
Priscilla LaneElaine Harper
Raymond MasseyJonathan Brewster
Jack CarsonO'Hara
Edward Everett HortonMr. Witherspoon
Peter LorreDr. Einstein
James GleasonPolice Lt. Rooney
Josephine HullAbby Brewster
Jean AdairMartha Brewster
John AlexanderTeddy Roosevelt Brewster
Grant MitchellReverend Harper
Edward McNamaraBrophy
Garry OwenTaxi Cab Driver
John RidgelySaunders
Vaughan GlaserJudge Cullman
Chester CluteDr. Gilchrist
Charles LaneReporter
Edward McWadeGibbs

Frank Capra: director

Max Steiner: composer

Leo F. Forbstein: musical director

Hugo Friedhofer: orchestrator

Film Statistics

Film duration: 1:57:54
Music duration: 00:35:40
Pages in score: 108
Total themes: 29
Themes with variants: 10
Total variants: 45
Total gestures: 7
Total underscoring sections: 11
Total underscoring duration: 00:03:45
Total instances: 125


Name Uses Variants
Here Comes the Bride 24 13
Happy Land 19 12
The Aunts 14 4
Scar 10 5
Jonathan 2 7 2
Home Sweet Home 4 2
Sidewalks of New York 4 4
Jonathan 3 1
Chromatic Fall 1 0
Funeral March 1 0
How Dry I Am 1 1
Knives 1 0
Molto Agitato 1 0
Mysterioso Pizzicato 1 0
Organ Stinger 1 0
Panic 1 0
Signature 1 0
Stinger 1 0
Take Me Out to the Ball Game 1 0
The Old Maid 1 0
The Victim 1 0
Transition 1 0

Other films borrowed from:

Dust Be My Destiny (1939)

The Amazing Dr. Clitterhouse (1938)

The Old Maid (1939)

Crime School (1938)


Name Uses
Home Sweet Home + Scar 1

Source Music

Name Uses
Break the News to Mother 2
Bugle Call 2
Rondo Alla Turca 1
Symphony No. 5: I 1
Two by Two 1
When Johnny Comes Marching Home 1


Blows out match
Hanging up
Opens window
Punching and falling
Wind blowing
Wind blowing 2