Arsenic and Old Lace



  • A chaotic black comedy by Joseph Kesselring, first performedin 1941 in New York, where it ran for 1444 performances. The Londonproduction, which opened the following year in the Strand Theatre,ran for 1337 performances with Lilian Braithwaite and Mary Jarroldas the lethal heroines. The play was filmed by Frank Capra in 1942with Cary Grant as Mortimer.

    The story involves two elderly sisters, Abby and Martha Brewster,whose angelic looks hide the fact that they cure the loneliness ofgentlemen callers by murdering them with poisoned elderberry wine.Upstairs lives their insane brother Teddy who, believing he is TeddyRoosevelt, is digging the Panama Canal in the basement (where 11 bodiesare buried). Their brother Mortimer (a theater critic) discovers thehorrific secret and decides he cannot marry his girlfriend since insanityruns in the family. At the story's end, Teddy and his sisters leavefor the lunatic asylum and tell Mortimer that he is not after allrelated to them, enabling him to marry.