Friday, April 08, 2011
By Barbara Vancheri, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
July 17, 1981. In Pittsburgh, it opened at the Squirrel Hill, Denis, Showcase Cinemas West and North, and Cinemette East.
Its stars: Dudley Moore (below) is drunken millionaire playboy Arthur Bach, and Sir John Gielgud his scene-stealing, starchy butler. Liza Minnelli is the diner waitress and aspiring actress from Queens who wins his heart, while future "LA Law" partner Jill Eikenberry is the woman his father insists Arthur marry.
The meet-cute: While shopping in Bergdorf Goodman, Arthur spots Ms. Minnelli's Linda Marolla shoplift a tie for her father's birthday. He comes to her rescue outside the store when a security guard confronts her with evidence of sticky fingers.
The stakes: Arthur stands to lose $750 million if he doesn't agree to the arranged marriage. As his grandmother, Martha (Geraldine Fitzgerald), tells him, "You are too old to be poor. You don't know how."
The world according to Hobson: When Arthur announces he's going to take a bath, the butler dryly replies, "I'll alert the media." Later, he accompanies Arthur to his father's office: "Lower your voice, Arthur, and sit up. Stop being so nervous. Later on, we'll get ice cream." And he cautions his charge: "Poor drunks do not find love, Arthur. Poor drunks have very few teeth. They urinate outdoors. They freeze to death in summer."
What we said at the time: " 'Arthur' is an urbane, carefree comedy. It amuses with snappy dialogue, sophisticated jokes and a joyous attitude toward life, love and the pursuit of happiness."
Box office: "Arthur" was the most successful comedy and fourth biggest draw of 1981, behind "Raiders of the Lost Ark," "On Golden Pond" and "Superman II." It grossed $95.5 million in North America. That's roughly $231 million in 2011 dollars.
Oscar love: "Arthur" went two for four. Mr. Moore lost the best actor statuette to "On Golden Pond" patriarch Henry Fonda, while supporting actor nominee Gielgud won, edging James Coco from "Only When I Laugh," Ian Holm from "Chariots of Fire," Jack Nicholson from "Reds" and Howard E. Rollins Jr. from "Ragtime."
The comedy lost the gold for original screenplay but won for its memorable song, "Arthur's Theme (Best That You Can Do)."
Rating and runtime: PG and 97 minutes.
First published on April 8, 2011 at 12:00 am