Why am I writing about Arsenic and Old Lace a second time? It’s just that good, and I love it! It is one of my all-time favorite films ever made. The American Film Institute has its different Top 100 lists of films, and pretty much everybody, when asked, would be able to say what their favorite movie is. I would be hard-pressed to make up a list of CSL’s Top 100 Movies Ever Made, but if I did, Arsenic and Old Lace would be one of them.
As I wrote last week, the movie was adapted from the wildly successful Broadway play. The play was not only a hit in the early 40’s, but has been a staple of theater throughout the country, on every level, whether it may be college, community theater or high school.
Which brings me to my connection. Back in high school, I was in three plays, including Arsenic and Old Lace. I had the delightful task of playing Teddy Brewster, the lunatic uncle who thought he was Theodore Roosevelt. It was a wonderfully fun part to play, including runs up the stairs shouting “Charge!” at the top of my lungs. (Every time Teddy went upstairs, he was charging up San Juan Hill.)
I will never forget my delight the first time I watched Arsenic and Old Lace on VSH tape, as an adult. I was lost, of course, in the story of the dotty old murdering aunts and Mortimer’s attempt to manage the situation, but I also delighted in watching John Alexander play Teddy. You see, he created the role on Broadway, and brought the character to film, so I got to see and compare myself to the original Teddy.
While you can’t see my performance, enjoy John Alexander’s Teddy in this TMC clip, which includes a charge up San Juan Hill.