Saturday, October 31, 2015

Two October Films

Early in October we watched two movies which were perfect for getting into the mood for Halloween. Actually I have never been a great fan of Halloween as an adult, but it does feature skulls and skeletons, so it isn't all bad.

The first one was Arsenic and Old Lace, a very funny, over the top story, set at Halloween, with trick or treaters, and a cemetery nearby. Mortimer, played by Cary Grant, is an author of books about being the perennial bachelor, but has just fallen in love and married the girl next door (Priscilla Lane). She is the daughter of the vicar who lives next door to his aunts; the newlyweds return to her home to get her luggage and go off on their honeymoon.


There are so many riotous events going on throughout the movie. Teddy (John Alexander), Mortimer's brother, thinks he is Teddy Roosevelt and Mortimer has been trying to get him moved to a home because his aunts are getting older. And while Mortimer visits his aunts (Josephine Hull and Jean Adair) he discovers that they have been involved in dispatching unhappy old men to their deaths. He realizes that everyone in his family is insane. And then his evil older brother (Raymond Massey) shows up, with his sidekick (Peter Lorre), a doctor who has performed plastic surgery to change to his appearance. That brief description doesn't come close to covering all the shenanigans going on in this film.


We are big fans of Cary Grant. In my opinion he can do no wrong. One thing I read about this film is that Cary Grant did not like his performance. He felt like it was too over the top. I never questioned his extreme reactions; after all, how would you react to finding out that the two sweet innocent women who raised you were murderers, even if they meant well?

In addition to the main actors, there are several wonderful actors in this film playing small parts. James Gleason, who played the Inspector in the Hildegarde Withers movies based on Stuart Palmer's mystery series, plays a police lieutenant. Jack Carson plays a rookie cop who also has written a play and seeks Mortimer's advice. Edward Everett Horton is the manager of the Happydale Sanatorium that plans to take in Teddy.

Yvette at In So Many Words has done a wonderful post on Arsenic and Old Lace, going into much more detail than I ever could. With tons of pictures included. Please check it out.

The second movie is The Mummy, the 1999 version with Brendan Fraser and Rachel Weisz (which bears no resemblance at all to the original 1932 movie). This is billed on the DVD case as a "nonstop action thriller," with thrills and suspense. I won't argue with that, but the humor is what sets this movie apart for me.


Rachel Weisz plays British librarian Evelyn with expertise in Egyptian artifacts. Her brother (John Hannah) has found one that he hopes is valuable, and it supposedly was found by an American adventurer, Rick O'Connell (Brendan Fraser) in a lost city, Hamunaptra. Rick takes Evelyn and her brother to the lost city and there are many adventures, and some romance, along the way. When they reach the lost city, a mummy is awakened.

Two smaller roles I liked were the curator of the museum that Evelyn works in (played by Erik Avari) and a former soldier who was in the Foreign Legion with Rick (played by Kevin J. O'Connor).

Roger Ebert's review groups this film in with some other "preposterous adventure movies" and gives it a decent review. Jame Berardinelli at Reelviews describes it as "a big-budget, high profile effort in the vein of Sam Raimi's Army of Darkness with less camp and better special effects."

There is a tenuous link between these movies. The original 1932 version of The Mummy starred Boris Karloff. Boris Karloff also played Mortimer's evil older brother in Arsenic and Old Lace in the Broadway production, but was not available for the movie.

18 comments:

  1. Enjoyed the Cary Grant film. Can't say the same for The Mummy. Not my thing. Looks like a fun adventurous movie :)

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    1. Well, Arsenic and Old Lace is my favorite between the two but we have watched The Mummy more since it came out. Both are lots of fun.

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  2. I think Arsenic and Old Lace is a terrific film, Tracy, and I'm glad you enjoy it too. I agree that it's the wit that makes it work. It takes a deft hand to combine the mystery/ominous part of the story with wit, but in that film, it works.

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    1. You said that very well, Margot. The movie is such fun, I can't resist it. When I watch a film many times sometimes I over analyze it but with this one I just sit back and enjoy it.

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  3. We love the Mummy and watch it from time to time.

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    1. M n' J, we have tracked movies watched since 1988, and we watched The Mummy a lot the first couple of years it was available on DVD. Still watch it every year or so. It obviously hits the spot with some viewers.

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  4. Not seen the first and no real desire to do so also. The second was fun.
    BTW - obviously got my grumpy head on again, not a massive fan of Halloween myself - one US import that doesn't work well for me.

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    1. You are Mr. Grumpy, Col. Not that I disagree on Halloween. To me it seems like another holiday engineered to get the public to buy lots of things, but many people love it here, dress up at work, give prizes. Happens at both my work and Glen's. I have a handbag with a skull on it. That is as far as I go. Glen takes photos of others in costume.

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  5. Arsenic and old lace is my favorite movie! The Mummy was good too.

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    1. That's great, Peggy. I can never decide on a favorite movie, but Arsenic and Old Lace might be my favorite movie directed by Frank Capra. And my favorite comedy.

      I never even thought about why I like this version of The Mummy until I did this post. I like adventure and thrills, and the humor makes it fun and I can ignore whether it makes sense.

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  6. I saw this version of THE MUMMY when it came out and thought it was a lot of fun.

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    1. Me too, Elgin. I think we first saw The Mummy on DVD and were so impressed we watched the 2nd one in the movie theater (a big deal for us even then) but it was not so great.

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  7. Tracy, as I told Yvette recently, I definitely want to see "Arsenic and Old Lace." I read more reviews of the film since I started blogging a few years ago. I did not like the 1999 version of "The Mummy," not that I have seen any of the previous version(s).

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    1. I bet you would like Arsenic and Old Lace, Prashant. The 1999 movie The Mummy is very unlike the original version but I don't enjoy mummies much myself.

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  8. Two very enjoyable movies - I remember we would watch ARsenic and Old Lace as a family when I was young, whenever it was on TV. (No instant accessin those days, not even videos.) And I always liked Brendan Fraser - he doesn't seem to feature so much now, but he was a splendid young hero with shades of comedy, I thought.

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    1. Moira, I had wondered what Brendan Fraser has been doing lately. I first saw him in Blast from the Past, which was lots of fun.

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    2. Oh yes, Blast from the Past, I loved that - and he danced very well in it too....undeveloped talent.

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    3. I don't remember the dancing in Blast from the Past... it has been a while. I will have to watch it again. And I want to see Gods and Monsters. My husband and son watched that one without me.

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