It took me almost 30 years to finish watching this movie. How’s that for a statement? Yes, I tried watching this comedy starring Dudley Moore and John Gielgud. I was 14 (I think) and I was told this was a very funny film. I saw the 1st 15 minutes and I was irritated with Dudley Moore’s cackling laughter. So, I turned the channel.
Flash forward to this year, and my wife insisting that “Arthur” really is a funny movie. She tells me this, but all I can hear is that laughter. Short, drunk and very British – that was my recollection of Dudley Moore’s portrayal of the titular character. Like with many things, I decided to listen to my wife (who offers more sound advice that I had benefited from more often than not). She was right again! I have to say “Arthur” is very funny indeed!
It was all about listening to the dialogue. Arthur’s lines are hysterical! Of course, he was drunk – and that makes several of these lines even funnier! The lines are so great, that it makes “Arthur” one of those quote-worthy films. “You must've hated this moose.” “Yes, I see no reason for prolonging this conversation, unless you're planning to knock over a fruit stand later in the evening.” “It's terribly small, tiny little country. Rhode Island could beat the crap out of it in a war. THAT'S how small it is.”
These quotes are awesome!!! I’m actually cracking myself up while reciting them! It is just one of those funny the older you get kind of films. Maybe I just understand it better now. Maybe I just needed to hear the lines better. Or maybe I just needed to watch more than the 1st 15 minutes. Regardless, I get this film now.
It’s an improbable tale about a billionaire who is more like a child than a man, and who finally grows up when he falls in love and his butler/man servant gets sick. But ignore the impossibilities. Look past the one in a billion chances. Take the film at only face value, and you’ll have a rewarding experience. There is no really deep message, no commentary on the rich, no criticism on moral ambiguity of Arthur. It’s just a funny movie, and that’s all.
The performance of John Gielgud is extraordinary, most likely because he never was one known for comedy. That alone makes “Arthur” very enjoyable. Of course, Liza Minnelli is also pretty funny in this. You forget sometimes how funny she can be, which I guess is because whenever I hear her name all I can think of is “Cabaret”. Then there is Dudley Moore. His delivery of his lines, acting as drunk as a skunk, makes this film even better than it could have been. In truth, it is Dudley Moore that truly makes “Arthur” a comedy. The rest is just window-dressing.
So, if you are in the mood for a downright funny movie and don’t mind a trip back to the ‘80s, then I recommend “Arthur” for a great time!
…and that’s it for this edition of THE REEL VOICE.