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Arthur

Updated: Mar 15

File 1981 mega hit ARTHUR in the "They couldn't make that movie today" file alongside "Blazing Saddles". Like Mel Brooks' film, its still hilarious more than 40 years after it hit theaters to the howls of a much less sensitive audience.

Thanks to a hilarious script by Director Steve Gordon, who sadly died just a year after the film was released, and Dudley Moore's unrestrained efforts, the laughs rarely stop.

Moore (10, Foul Play) stars as billionaire drunken playboy Arthur Bach. He's never grown up, playing with trains with the same fervor with which he picks up hookers in his Rolls.

Sir John Gielgud won an Oscar for his performance as Hobson, Arthur's stuffy English butler. Gielgud mic drops great one-liner after killer punch line with a perfect upper crust delivery. After meeting Linda: "Thank you for a memorable afternoon, usually one must go to a bowling alley to meet a woman of your stature".

Ted Ross (The WIz) is also winning as Bitterman, Arthur's loyal driver.

Arthur is unhappily engaged to Susan, the daughter of a wealthy, crooked businessman, Burt Johnson (Stephen Elliot from "Beverly Hills Cop"). Susan Eikenberry from "LA Law") seems willing to forgive Arthur ANY drunken behavior, but Arthur has zero desire to get married.

By chance one day, Arthur and Hobson witness a young woman from Queens, Linda, stealing a necktie in Bergdorf Goodman on 5th Avenue.

Hobson comments: "Yes, I see no reason for prolonging this conversation, unless you're planning to knock over a fruit stand later in the evening. Good luck in prison."


Arthur covers for her and sparks a relationship that sets off some of the funniest comic set pieces of the 80s.

Arthur's drunken 3am visit to Linda's house in Queens is a highlight. When he knocks on the wrong door, Perry's wife and Perry come to the door and my face hurts from laughing. "Don't you hate Perry's wife!"

Barney Martin steals every scene he's in as Linda's father, Ralph. Seeing Arthur as his route out of Queens, Ralph's reactions to the ups and downs of their relationship are a master class in comic delivery. Martin showed the same talent for years as Morty Seinfeld, he's old school flawless.

Gordon deftly weaves in some tender moments as well. Hobson and Arthur's relationship is laugh out loud funny on the surface, but as the film goes on, it's surprisingly touching.

When Linda shows up at Arthur's engagement party, the laughs are big, but the entire scene in the corrals slides smoothly back and forth into heartfelt moments.

Geraldine Fitzgerald (Wuthering Heights, Poltergest II) is a hoot as Arthur's Aunt Martha.

The final twenty minutes at Arthur and Susan's wedding in Manhattan is hilarious.

Dudley Moore is a gifted physical comedian and between this film and Blake Edwards "10", Moore owned the big screen pratfall in the early 80's. Minnelli shows off some of her best comic timing, setting up every Moore punchline like a pro. She's also charming as hell, without ever losing Linda's Queens edge.

I've seen this so many times I've lost track, but some of the dialogue still makes me laugh out loud.


Susan: "A real woman could stop you from drinking."

Arthur: "It'd have to be a real BIG woman."

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Perry's Wife: [screams] "MY HUSBAND HAS A GUN!"

Arthur: "I'm sure he does, madam. For all I know, he shot it while you screamed."

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Arthur: "Hobson, do you know the worst part, the WORST part of being me?"

Hobson: "I should imagine your breath."


It's a shame that Steve Gordon died so shortly after the film premiered. We all lost out on his comic voice that found its audience in droves at the 1981 box office.

ARTHUR is a hilarious, drunken blast that gets an A.


Remade in 2011 with Russell Brand to much lesser effect and followed by the sequel "Arthur 2: On the Rocks" in 1988. A bust at the box office, I have never seen it, always wishing to revisit the original instead. Now just try to get that Oscar winning Burt Bacharach/Christopher Cross title song out of your head!






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