Arsenic and Old Lace

1944 NR 1h 58m DVD

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Arsenic and Old Lace

1944 NR 1h 58m DVD
  • Overview
  • Details
  • Cast
Stellar performances highlight this delightfully witty adaptation of the hit Broadway play about two dotty spinsters (Josephine Hull and Jean Adair) with a peculiar avocation: helping lonely old gents by poisoning them and burying them in the cellar. But the jig is up when the ladies' newlywed nephew, Mortimer Brewster (Cary Grant), discovers his aunts' "benevolent" deeds. Raymond Massey and Peter Lorre also star.
Full Screen 1.33:1
English, French
English: Dolby Digital Mono
NR - Not rated. This movie has not been rated by the MPAA.
age 11+
Common Sense rating OK for kids 11+
  • Cary Grant
  • Priscilla Lane
  • Raymond Massey
  • Peter Lorre
  • Josephine Hull
  • Jean Adair
  • James Gleason
  • Edward Everett Horton
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age 11+

Common Sense Note

Parents need to know that this popular Golden-Age-of-Hollywood comedy concerns multiple murders and madness, but without anything graphic shown. Violence is just roughhousing and a menacing display of knives. Some jokes (especially having to do with baseball stats of 1944) are badly out of date. There is an undercurrent of drinking, with poisoned wine a key plot element. This isn't in any way meant to be an enlightened view of families grappling with mental illness.

Sexual Content

Not applicable


Slapstick-y fistfight, including a bench-clearing baseball brawl at the start (that has nothing to do with anything). People get hit on the head a lot, including by police billy-club. Mortimer is tied up and threatened with death via surgical-scalpel torture, though nothing comes of it. Despite the many killings that have taken place, dead corpses are hardly even seen.


Not applicable

Social Behavior

Breezy stuff doesn't go out of its way to instruct or preach; it's mostly for laffs, with the slight suggestion of how frantic Mortimer is willing to sacrifice his marital happiness for the ones he loves -- whether it's his murderous aunties or his new wife (Mortimer briefly fears that he's inherited genetic insanity himself and tries to scrap the marriage). Undertone that even sweet little old crazy ladies can rack up a body count as impressive the full-time maniac Jonathan.


Not applicable

Drugs / Tobacco / Alcohol

Alcohol drinking by various characters, with the qualifier that some of the wine is poisoned, and would-be victims are disuaded from imbibing. Mortimer smokes.

  • Age appropriate
  • Not an issue
  • Depends on your child and your family
  • Parents strongly cautioned
  • Not appropriate for kids of the age

This information for parents is provided by Common Sense Media, a non-profit organization dedicated to improving kids' media lives.

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