Arthur (1981)

Arthur (1981)

“Grow up, Arthur — you’d make a fine adult.”

An alcoholic playboy (Dudley Moore) is forced by his stern great-aunt (Geraldine Fitzgerald) and father (Thomas Barbour) to marry an heiress (Jill Eikenberry) with a domineering dad (Stephen Elliott) or lose his fortune — however, when he falls in love with a quirky waitress (Liza Minnelli), he must choose between love and financial security, and turns to his butler (John Gielgud) for advice.

Genres, Themes, Actors, and Directors:

  • Comedy
  • Coming of Age
  • Cross-Class Romance
  • Dudley Moore Films
  • Geraldine Fitzgerald Films
  • John Gielgud Films
  • Liza Minnelli Film
  • Millionaires

Dudley Moore is perfectly cast as the irrepressible title star of this smash hit screwball comedy about a “fun drunk” who you can’t imagine possibly liking, but eventually grow to enjoy and even admire a little bit. Moore’s chemistry with Minnelli makes their unconventional romance plausible (though I’m not sure what it says about either of them that they “meet cute” while she’s shoplifting), and Eikenberry is note-perfect as a woman convinced she’s capable of “fixing” Moore. Meanwhile, Moore’s relationship with droll John Gielgud — playing his avuncular butler and mentor — consistently reminds us of both Moore’s humanity and his potential. Burt Bacharach’s catchy theme song instantly hits one’s aural memory nerves and begins looping itself through your brain, but at least it’s a pleasing ditty. This film has held up surprisingly well as a light-hearted comedy, and is worth a look.

Redeeming Qualities and Moments:

  • Fine performances throughout

  • Burt Bacharach’s theme song

Must See?
No, but it’s recommended as an enjoyable comedy.


4 thoughts on “Arthur (1981)

  1. I can’t be very objective about this film… since Moore dominates it and I find him singularly unfunny (and forced) in it.

    Obviously, my advice would be to just skip it. 😉

  2. Well, that’s that! If you can’t stand Moore’s performance here, you definitely want to stay far away from this one. 🙂

    I fully expected to NOT be able to handle him after the first few minutes, but then — he calmed down. Sort of.

  3. I watched this (sometime back) only because it was on Peary’s checklist. But I’ve learned that all film fanatics have certain performers that they just can’t handle, for whatever reason.

    An easier situation is when it comes to performers who are sometimes good and sometimes bad (i.e. abrasive) – that is a little easier to deal with because they sometimes seem able to acquit themselves. But I find Moore to be one of those whose performances, from film to film, are like attention-hungry cries for help. So I can’t even begin to enjoy any aspect of what he’s doing.

    But, as far as this particular film is concerned, I don’t happen to think the script is much good anyway, so…

    Side note: I just took a look at what I said about ‘Bedazzled’. Apparently I just ignored Moore in that one. 😉

  4. At the time this was a big film and I really liked it then and now, or at least the last time I saw it which was probably in the ’90s. A great star vehicle for the much missed Moore.

    However, it’s definitely fallen by the way side since and despite having been remade and spawned a poorly regarded sequel seems to have been forgotten and rarely – if ever – revived.

    It’s still very good and worth seeing for those inclined but no longer must see.

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