Arsenic and Old Lace (1944) Film Review

Synopsis

Writer and notorious marriage detractor Mortimer Brewster (Cary Grant) falls for girl-next-door Elaine Harper (Priscilla Lane), and they tie the knot on Halloween. When the newlyweds return to their respective family homes to deliver the news, Brewster finds a corpse hidden in a window seat. With his eccentric aunts (Josephine Hull, Jean Adair), disturbed uncle (John Alexander), and homicidal brother (Raymond Massey), he realizes that his family is even crazier than he thought.
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Release dateSeptember 1, 1944 (USA)

My Review 

If you have not seen this film… Go Watch It Now! This movie has been on my top 10 list of films for years now.

My favorite thing about this film is the plot structure. They based this film off on a play and that shows. This play follows the old style of comedy with dramatic irony. The audience is fully aware of what is going on in the movie, however a lot of the actors are left in the dark. Which leads to a lot of confusion among the characters within the film and adds to the comedic element for the audience.

Something I love about this film that I think more plays and films need to be inspired by is all the comedic timing and use of facial expressions. Image result for arsenic and old laceCary Grant’s facial expressions throughout this film makes for some of the best comedic moments. This is also something that is known to be one of Cary Grant’s signature strengths.

The plot of this film is quick paced, and there are several stories lines going on all at the same time. Newly wed Mortimer Brewster is trying to leave on his honeymoon, his aunts are murdering elderly gentleman, his uncle thinks he’s Teddy Roosevelt, and his crazy brother Jonathon shows up  on the run from the police. While the overall feel of the movie is left very light and comedic, the action within the play is insane and the audience gets to watch along on the journey.

I absolutely adore the acting in this film. Besides Cary Grant’s amazing performance, everyone else does a fantastic job. There is not a bad acting performance in this entire film. Image result for arsenic and old laceJosephine Hull and Jean Adair as the two aunts is my favorite. These two women do not disappoint in this film, and their characterization is amazing. They are nothing short of being sweet elderly women in this film, which makes it even more of a comedic shock to find they have single-handedly poisoned and buried several men in their cellar. 

Lastly, the camera work and lighting of this film are unique and appealing. Much like the play, this film takes place solely inside the Brewster’s living room. While we see action take place in a few other locations, most of the film is set in one area of the house. However, the film does not get boring and as an audience member it’s hard to notice that the camera has not left the one room. The camera work is very innovative and creative.

My Rating 

4.5 out of 5

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5 Things I’ve Learned in Film School from a College Senior

I’ve heard many times in my life that I am wasting my time and money by going to college to study film. However, as I’m approaching my last semesters of my college career, I am realizing just how much I have learned. Here are the top five things my University has taught me about the film industry.

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1. Collaberation

The most valuable thing I have learned from being a part of the film and theatre community is that you must be willing/able to collaborate with your peers. I have seen so many people who think they know best and are not willing to listen to anyone else’s ideas. However, this only results in BAD films and bad contents. No one person is an expert in every area of film production. While it’s important to understand all the various fields such as lighting, sound, camera, directing. Everybody has their speciality and is nowhere near being an expert in these fields. The best films come from working with someone that specializes in each field and being able to listen to each other’s ideas and play off of each other’s feedback.

2. Confidence

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The second main thing I have gained throughout my college career is confidence. Being able to turn in projects and gain the feedback/ constructive criticism of classmates and professors is HUGE. A big confidence booster is being able to see your growth from Freshman year onward. That is something you can always do outside of a university setting. However, the community environment built by fellow students and faculty is an amazing place for being challenged and growing as a filmmaker. I have definitely gained so much confidence in my filmmaking and that gives me great ease as I think about graduation and getting into the film industry.

3. Connections

A major benefit I have found from attending a university for film studies is all the connections you will make. My classes have had a wide variety of guest speakers, and former students come to talk with us including an editor from the Ellen show and a camera operator from the Walking Dead. I talked to both speakers and show them my work. The feedback from them was extremely valuable and their lengthy advice for getting into the film industry. I have also gotten the amazing opportunity to showcase films in various festivals and meet filmmakers through professors and advisors. I still collaborate with other filmmakers I have met through professors and learn from them more and more every day.

4. Professionalism

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From watching film professors and being thrown into professional environments, I have learned how to act and be very professional in various situations. I have also gained more confidence in approaching and talking to peers and how to react in certain social situations. I have lots of social anxiety, so this has been extremely beneficial to me, especially as I leave school and head into the “real” world.

5. Production Elements

Having different professors that each specific in different fields is very beneficial. I have learned a lot from audio, directing, camera work, documentary film-making, editing, sound editing, graphic design, media writing, etc. Having a professor in front of you that specializes in that specific field is extremely useful, and I have learned so much. In the production side of things, I have learned way too much to count into one blog.