Arsenic and Old Lace, 1944

Two aunts have a secret, one that doesn’t bother them at all. It’s their charity. But it bothers their nephew Mortimer. It has something to do with the hats in the cabinet. They think they’re doing something helpful. The sweet old ladies have “helped” a dozen old lonely men. So who will be the thirteenth?

Cary Grant as Mortimer Brewster and Peter Lorre as Dr. Einstein keep us guessing as they discover the bodies of the gentlemen Brewster’s aunts have killed with arsenic poisoning.

Are they nuts? Mortimer’s sure that his whole family is nuts.

Mortimer’s brother, Jonathan Brewster, was played by Raymond Massey in this Frank Capra directed film. They would’ve cast Boris Karloff in that role, but Karloff was unable to do the picture because he was appearing in the Broadway play. The running gag about Jonathan looking like Karloff keeps the humor going. They shot the film while the play was still on Broadway, but didn’t release the film until the play finally closed in 1944 after 1,444 performances.

According to, Cary Grant donated his $100,000 salary to the U.S. War Relief Fund. The film released to the American theaters in late 1944, but was shown to the Armed Forces overseas during 1943.