Parents' Guide to

Arsenic and Old Lace

By Charles Cassady Jr., Common Sense Media Reviewer

age 11+

Cary Grant serial-killer comedy classic is cozy and tame.

Movie NR 1944 118 minutes
Arsenic and Old Lace Poster Image

A Lot or a Little?

What you will—and won't—find in this movie.

Community Reviews

age 10+

Based on 2 parent reviews

age 10+

A classic that needs more recognition!

An innocent dark comedy!! It revolves around Cary Grant's character realizing that his old nice aunts are putting people out their misery (poisoning them). Yet, they think they are doing a good deed (charity). Cary Grant strives to help solve's everyones problem in this hilarious classic and the ending is just hilarious! A goofy and classic Halloween film for the family!! :D

This title has:

Great messages
age 10+

A Cary Grant Masterpiece

I am only half serious about the role models being bad and the violence. This movie is just so perfectly goofy that though you could feel bad about laughing at a couple of batty ladies offing a bunch of old men one at a time because they were lonely, you honestly don't. The movie is perfectly ridiculous, and in this day and age, completely harmless in all ways. A must see for adults.

This title has:

Too much violence

Is It Any Good?

Our review:
Parents say (2):
Kids say (6):

Director Frank Capra had previously taken a classic stage comedy, You Can't Take It With You, and done a good job opening it up for the big screen; not so with this one. ARSENIC AND OLD LACE, while a favorite with critics (maybe because a critic is the hero and played by handsome Cary Grant, two extreme unlikelihoods!) remains pretty much stagebound, like the Broadway black comedy that inspired it, confined to one Victorian-mansion living-room set, with fewer scene changes than an Addams Family episode.

Though the pace is brisk, modern viewers, especially horror-overloaded kids, must gear down to the restrained, nonviolent approach to the macabre, the claustrophobia of the limited sets, the running-fast-but-getting-nowhere narrative, and the unwieldy (for a comedy) running time. Terrific actors do put lots of sparkle into this lethal concoction and remind us why the likes of Cary Grant, Peter Lorre, Raymond Massey, etc. represent, for many, a grand old Hollywood that's long passed.

Movie Details

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