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32 Days of Halloween VII, Day 6: Boris Karloff in Arsenic and Old Lace

Boris Karloff and Erich Von Stroheim in Arsenic and Old Lace

Holy shit, I’m excited. More on that in a second. First up, one of the best voices ever was Karloff. He could make anything terrifying. Granted, when it comes to “Today’s Teens,” he doesn’t have to work very hard. Some horror movies are simply timeless. “Marx and Lenin never taught them this!!”

And then for our feature film, which comes second, it’s 1932’s The Old Dark House. If you don’t have time to check out the full thing, take a moment and appreciate the disclaimer at the beginning. Lovely old school marketing.

This is a Movietone Newsreel that I can’t seem to find in print anywhere…though a boxed set of these would be fantastic.

Also in House is Gloria Stuart (Titanic) and Charles Laughton.

And yes, my excitement: how I haven’t run across this until now, I have no idea. The film Arsenic and Old Lace, directed by Frank Capra and starring Cary Grant, was originally a play. The part of the disfigured criminal Jonathan Brewster, played on the screen by Raymond Massey, was originated on stage by Boris Karloff. Which is why Jonathan complaining that surgery has left him looking like Boris Karloff is even funnier when you hear the man himself state such. Karloff did not play the role on the screen because, I believe I remember this right–he was under contract for the stage version and couldn’t get out of it for the film. Which is a damn shame, because–as evidenced by the below–he sounds amazing.

Someone has been kind enough to splice together his best bits along with pics and such from and about the production. I love everything about this. Now I need to find the full radio performance…

The picture up top is from an excellent interview between the New York Public Library and Sara Karloff, Boris’ daughter.


  • damn!! Its great to see the 32 days of halloween.
    I always look forward to it every year.
    Thanks you guys

  • Over on they have a have a tonne of old time radio horror shows, including a production of Arsenic & Old Lace with Boris Karloff.