Released in 1944 (although filmed in 1941 due to Cary Grant’s availability) this film has withstood the test of time. Based on Joseph Kesselring‘s play; both the play and movie are ghastly joys, in their own ways.
Josephine Hull and Jean Adair portray Abby and Martha Brewster, Mortimer’s darling Aunts who also happen to be serial killers for a good cause, “It’s one of our charities”. They’re like the Dexter of their day. Their explanation of their murderous ways? They stop the suffering of lonely old bachelors by poisoning them with arsenic, strychnine and “just a pinch of cyanide” disguised in elderberry wine.
Uncle Teddy (John Alexander) who believes he’s Teddy Roosevelt unwittingly aids the Aunts by digging graves in the basement, thinking he is digging locks for the Panama Canal and burying yellow fever victims. Hull, Adair, and Alexander reprise their 1941 stage production roles.
Mortimer, whose ultimate dysfunctional family causes no end of headaches explains to his hapless new bride – “Insanity runs in my family, practically gallops!”