Review: Arthur (1981)

>> Sunday, December 31, 2006

USA/C-97 m./Dir: Steve Gordon/Wr: Steve Gordon/Cast: Dudley Moore (Arthur Bach), Liza Minnelli (Linda Marolla), John Gielgud (Hobson)

Writer/director Steve Gordon concocted this affectionate throwback to screwball comedies of the 1930’s and included all of the trappings of the genre--witty dialogue, wealthy socialites, romantic hurdles, and vast quantities of liquor. Dudley Moore portrays the film’s title character, everyone’s favorite good-natured inebriate, Arthur Bach. Arthur is a giggling, drunken millionaire who simply wants to be loved. Unfortunately, his grasping relatives expect Arthur to expand their empire by marrying him off to the dull daughter of an equally rich businessman. Worst of all, the arranged bride intends to put an end to Arthur’s alky amusements. When instead Arthur falls for a working-class waitress (Liza Minnelli), he must choose between love and 750 million dollars.

Arthur turned out to be one of the funniest films of the Eighties, and the sparkling writing brought out career topping work from Moore, Minnelli, and John Gielgud (as Arthur’s butler and father figure, Hobson). It’s a shame Steve Gordon died only a year after directing this tipsy tour de force, his first and only directorial effort. We could have used a few more classy cocktails like this one.

Drinks Consumed-- Scotch (on the rocks), gin (martinis), beer, and champagne

Intoxicating Effects--Slurred speech, the giggles, swearing, staggering, stumbling, bad breath, soused sex, drunk driving, passing out, and public disturbance

Potent Quotables--ARTHUR: This is what I am. Everyone who drinks is not a poet. Some of us drink because we’re not poets.
SUSAN: A real woman could stop you from drinking.
ARTHUR: It would have to be a real big woman.

Video Availability--Unfortunately Arthur is only available in a full frame, pan and scan version on Region 1 DVD (Warner Brothers). This was an early DVD release that is in major need of an upgrade.

Similarly Sauced Cinema--Dudley, Liza, and even Sir John Gielgud returned for the 1988 sequel, Arthur 2: On the Rocks, but without Steve Gordon’s touch there was considerably less sparkle in the champagne.

Arthur/Arthur 2: On the Rocks (Double Feature DVD)


edP January 1, 2007 at 10:55 AM  

Soused sex...yesssss

edP January 1, 2007 at 11:04 AM  

Arthur was the first movie for "grown ups" that I really loved or related to or something like that. I'm not saying I can relate to having (or getting, or blowing) 750 million dollars...but I loved how the character seemed playful and mildly self-destructive all at once.

I loved that there were some in the film who couldn't understand him and were in fact disgusted by him.

I know that if you could extend the film world into the real, those twits who disliked or tried to control Aurthur lived out their boring lives while Arthur drowned happily somewhere after falling into a vat of scotch.

Do they put scotch in vats?

garv January 1, 2007 at 1:28 PM  


SECRETARY (on the phone): You big hoddy-doddy, you smoke vile cigars all day and drink whiskey half the night. Someday you’ll drown in a vat of whiskey.

FIELDS: Drown in a vat of whiskey; death where is thy sting?

edP January 1, 2007 at 7:47 PM  


...but you didn't answer my question.

Chris B. January 2, 2007 at 10:15 AM  

Ed: Yes. Vats AND cauldrons.

I don't remember it being 750 million. Shit, that's like 2 billion in the double-aughts! With that kind of money, you could fashion some sort of elaborate system of underground tubes by which you could arrange clandestine meetings with your love! Or, you could buy enough vats of whiskey to forget you were in love.

edP January 2, 2007 at 11:35 PM  

The internet is a series of underground tubes

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I like to drink. I like to watch movies. I like to watch movies about drinking. I like to write about the movies I’ve watched, but only if I’ve had a drink first.

All text including the title "Booze Movies: The 100 Proof Film Guide" Copyright William T. Garver

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