Viewing date: 3-26-2001
Posting date: 8-9-2001
An old scientist experiments on travelling salesmen that visit his inn. He comes under the suspicion of the town jack-of-all-trades and a woman who has agreed to buy the inn.
If Boris Karloff hadn’t been with a touring company doing “Arsenic and Old Lace” when the movie version was being shot, he most likely would have appeared in it in the role he’d done on Broadway. As it is, he ended up in this “Arsenic” rip-off, which borrows a number of elements of the play (there is a romantic couple, there are dotty old people around, Peter Lorre shows up) and changes the mix slightly. Even if it is a rip-off, Karloff is having fun, and shows great comic timing. The plot is muddled, and it definitely ends with a thud, but it has some nice moments throughout. Peter Lorre plays the banker/lawyer/sheriff/justice of the peace/etc. character, and my favorite moment is when Karloff explains to him the nature of his experiments (he’s been trying to turn travelling salesmen into supermen to aid the war effort), Lorre’s reaction is relief that the old scientist wasn’t a crackpot like he thought.
As a bit of trivia, I noticed when I researched this that Lorre and Karloff had only appeared in four movies together, and all of them were comedies.