arsenic and old lace

the year: 1944

the genre: comedy

the cast: Cary Grant (Mortimer Brewster); Priscilla Lane (Elaine Harper); Jack Carson (O'Hara); Peter Lorre (Dr. Einstein); Edward Everett Horton (Mr. Witherspoon); Raymond Massey (Jonathan Brewster)

the plot: A drama critic learns on his wedding day that his beloved maiden aunts are homicidal maniacs, and that insanity runs in his family.

don't miss: when, near the end of the film, Edward Everett Horton (as Mr. Witherspoon) accidently addresses Cary Grant (as Mortimer) as Mr. Witherspoon. Cary Grant appears to be genuinely amused by his mistake, then corrects him and saves the scene.

listen for: "But Mortimer, you're going to love me for my mind, too." "One thing at a time, Baby!"

did you know: Some 20 years before filming this movie, actress Jean Adair had helped to nurse a very sick vaudeville performer named Archie Leach back to health; by the time she was asked to reprise her Broadway "Arsenic and Old Lace" role as Aunt Martha for this film, Adair and Leach, now known as Cary Grant, were old friends.

watch for: the name Archie Leach on one of the tombstones in the cemetary.


national treasure

the year: 2004

the genre: suspense

the cast: Nicolas Cage (Benjamin Franklin Gates); Diane Kruger (Abigail Chase); Justin Bartha (Riley Poole); Sean Bean (Ian Howe); Jon Voight (Patrick Gates); Harvey Keitel (adusky); Christopher Plummer (John Adams Gates)

the plot: Benjamin Franklin Gates descends from a family of treasure-seekers who've all hunted for the same thing: a treasure hidden by the Founding Fathers after the Revolutionary War. Ben's close to discovering its whereabouts, as is his competition, but the FBI is also not far behind.

don't miss: the search engines of choice: good guys in the movie use Google and bad guys use Yahoo!.

watch for: Riley's disappearing/reappearing goatee.

extra bonus points: if you know the running time of the initial rough cut of the film.

did you know: The cities that the major action takes place in (Washington D.C., Philadelphia, and New York City) are three of the nine capital cities the United States has had in its history.

listen for: "Who wants to go down the creepy tunnel inside the tomb first?"


willy wonka and the chocolate factory

the year: 1971

the genre: musical

the cast: Gene Wilder (Willy Wonka); Jack Albertson (Grandpa Joe); Peter Ostrum (Charlie Bucket); Roy Kinnear (Mr. Salt); Julie Dan Cole (Veruca Salt);

the plot: The world is astounded when Willy Wonka, for years a recluse in his factory, announces that five lucky people will be given a tour of the factory, shown all the secrets of his amazing candy, and one will win a lifetime supply of Wonka chocolate. Nobody wants the prize more than young Charlie, but as his family is so poor that buying even one bar of chocolate is a treat, buying enough bars to find one of the five golden tickets is unlikely in the extreme. But in movieland, magic can happen. Charlie, along with four somewhat odious other children, get the chance of a lifetime and a tour of the factory. Along the way, mild disasters befall each of the odious children, but can Charlie beat the odds?

don't miss: when the children first enter the main factory and see the gardens. Their reactions are real, it was really their first view of that particular set.

listen for: "I am now telling the computer *exactly* what it can do with a life time supply of chocolate."

did you know: The combination to the first door in the chocolate factory is 99-44/100% pure, which was an ad slogan for Ivory Soap.

extra bonus points: if you know what Peter Ostrum's (who played Charlie) adult profession would become.

also listen for: "If the good Lord had intended us to walk, he wouldn't have invented roller skates."

My favorite scene is here.
And while I *also* very much enjoy Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, both have their individual charm, don'tha think?


weekend in havana

the year: 1942

the genre: musical

the cast: Alice Faye (Nan Spencer); John Payne (Jay Williams); Carmen Miranda (Rosita Rivas); Cesar Romero (Monte Blanca); Cobina Wright (Terry McCracken)

the plot: Ship company employee, Jay Williams, is sent to Florida where one of the company cruise ships is stuck on a reef off of the coast. He obtains waivers from all of the passengers with the exception of Nan Spencer, a department store salesgirl who wants her vacation NOW, not later. Jay is instructed to take Nan to Havana and set her up in the best hotel and keep her entertained - anything to get her signature on the waiver.

don't miss: Jay Williams: tour guide.

watch for: Leonid Kinskey as Rafael the bellhop. He is one of the great character actors of the 30s and 40s - and he's Russian (not Spanish).

listen for: "You are a no good, good-for-nothing. But I like you!"

did you know: Alice Faye was pregnant during the filming of this movie.

extra bonus points: if you can name two other movies in which Alice Faye and Carmen Miranda co-starred.

also listen for: "Aha! Now I have got you where you want me!