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.