Directed By: Steve Gordon
Starring: Dudley Moore, Liza Minnelli, John Gielgud
Tag line: "The most fun money can buy"
Trivia: Bud Cort was originally suggested for the role of Arthur. Apparently, Cort was actually cast in the part but withdrew prior to principal photography.
The laughs in Arthur never get old. All these years later, this movie still cracks me up.
Dudley Moore is Arthur Bach, a millionaire playboy with a drinking problem who's never had to grow up. Life's been good to Arthur so far, but it seems the good times are about to come to an end. His father (Thomas Barbour) and grandmother (Geraldine Fitzgerald) are insisting he marry Susan Johnson (Jill Eikenberry), a beautiful, yet terminally boring, heiress. Arthur doesn't want to get hitched to anyone, least of all a woman like Susan, but has a change of heart when his father threatens to cut him off without a cent. Hobson (Sir John Gielgud), Arthur’s sarcastic butler and most trusted friend, advises him to marry and live the rest of his life a very wealthy man. Wedded bliss with Susan becomes even more unthinkable, however, when Arthur meets Linda Marolla (Liza Minelli), a penniless waitress who captures his heart. Will he turn his back on $750 million for love?
Arthur gets off to a quick start, firing jokes and one-liners at us from all directions. The opening scene has an intoxicated Arthur, out on the prowl in his Rolls Royce, pulling up next to a couple of prostitutes and hiring one of them for the evening. So drunk he can barely stand, Arthur takes his “date”, Gloria (Anne DeSalvo), to dinner at the prestigious Plaza Hotel, where he proceeds to make a spectacle of himself (at one point, he asks Gloria about her past. “You mean, why am I a hooker?” she asks. “Are you a hooker?” he shouts out, drawing every eye in the restaurant his way, “Jesus, I forgot. I just thought I was doing great with you!”). The scene ends, and we cut to the next morning, where Arthur and Gloria are waking up in Arthur’s incredibly spacious bedroom. But just when it looks as if the fun is settling down, here comes Hobson, John Gielgud’s sardonic butler. With his sharp wit and deadpan delivery, Hobson gets the laughs rolling all over again. The film continues on at a brisk pace, with Moore and Gielgud playing off one another perfectly. Then, suddenly, Liza Minelli enters the picture. Her Linda Marolla, full of humor and charm, eases her way into the mix, and all at once, the hilarious duo of Moore and Geilgud has become a trio, assembling what amounts to a comedic dream team.
I have no idea how many times I’ve watched Arthur over the years, but if I were to guess, I’d say it’s at least a couple dozen. And yet, despite my complete familiarity with every aspect of this film, it hasn’t lost its edge. Arthur always makes me smile, and more than likely always will.