Arsenic And Old Lace 1962: A Classic Dark Comedy

Holiday Film Reviews Arsenic and Old Lace


Arsenic and Old Lace 1962 is a classic dark comedy film directed by Frank Capra. The movie was released in 1962 and stars Cary Grant, Raymond Massey, Peter Lorre, and Priscilla Lane. The film is based on a play by Joseph Kesselring and was adapted for the screen by Julius J. Epstein and Philip G. Epstein.

The Plot

The story revolves around Mortimer Brewster, a drama critic who discovers that his two elderly aunts, Abby and Martha, have been poisoning lonely old men with arsenic-laced elderberry wine. To make matters worse, Mortimer’s brother Teddy, who thinks he is Theodore Roosevelt, is burying the bodies in the basement. Chaos ensues as Mortimer tries to keep the murders a secret while dealing with his eccentric family.

The Cast

The film boasts an impressive cast, with Cary Grant delivering a standout performance as Mortimer Brewster. Grant’s comedic timing and facial expressions are a perfect fit for the film’s dark humor. Raymond Massey also shines as Mortimer’s evil brother, Jonathan, who returns home with his plastic surgeon, Dr. Einstein, played by Peter Lorre. Priscilla Lane rounds out the cast as Mortimer’s fiancée, Elaine.

The Themes

Arsenic and Old Lace 1962 is a satire on the traditional family unit, with the Brewster family being a prime example of dysfunction. The film also explores themes of mortality and morality, as the characters grapple with the consequences of their actions. The film’s dark humor is a commentary on the absurdity of life and the human condition.

The Legacy

Despite being released over 60 years ago, Arsenic and Old Lace 1962 remains a beloved classic. The film’s dark humor and eccentric characters continue to captivate audiences today. The film has been adapted for the stage numerous times and has inspired countless parodies and homages in popular culture.

The Verdict

Arsenic and Old Lace 1962 is a must-watch for fans of dark comedy and classic cinema. The film’s witty dialogue and quirky characters make for an entertaining and thought-provoking viewing experience. The film’s legacy is a testament to its enduring appeal and influence on popular culture.


In conclusion, Arsenic and Old Lace 1962 is a classic dark comedy that has stood the test of time. The film’s satirical take on the traditional family unit and exploration of morality and mortality make it a thought-provoking viewing experience. With an all-star cast and Frank Capra’s expert direction, this film is a must-watch for any fan of classic cinema.