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Arthur

1981 comedy starring Dudley Moore, John Geilgud and Liza Minnelli

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A charming, if minor, Hollywood classic that embraces the irresistable charm of the classic drunk.

  • Apr 10, 2011
Rating:
+4
***1/2 out of ****

How can you like a bumbling, man-child drunk such as Arthur? I too asked myself the same question. But then again, I considered the opposing question: How can you not? I sat down to watch the original "Arthur" film with relatively high expectations. I knew this thing was going to be promising, entertaining, funny, and 80's-cool in style. And it was, but it's also more than I bargained for. "Arthur" is a fun romp. It's a comedy, it's a drama, and it's a character study as well. The character study here isn't a deep one, but it's instead one that highlights a likable lead. Yes, that lead happens to be drunk, and yes, such a character and a premise should have produced typical Hollywood generic crap. Now, "Arthur" is a lot of things, but one thing it isn't is: bad. It's a well-made, funny, and intelligent film that you should see, if only for its divine cleverness. After all, why not just go along for the ride? Arthur himself is the entertainment; and he brings along plenty of it. There are not a whole lot of comedies out there that do what this one does. So just see the darned thing for its joyous portrayal of the classic drunk.

Let me get one thing straight: "Arthur" is not about story-telling. It is, instead, about character-telling; something that only a select number of dramedies can pull off...successfully. This is a rare dramedy that CAN "pull it off", and it does so very well indeed. The film is about the titular character, Arthur, who happens to be a Billionaire. He's almost always drunk, and feeds off his riches to be happy in life. His future is set out before him; he is to marry a woman who he does not find interesting, and live happily-ever-after as a rich drunk. He'll move along with life.

Of course, with movies like these, the character meets a woman who he DOES find interesting. She's not wealthy like Arthur, but she's kind, interesting, sweet, and beautiful. Arthur doesn't mind that she's essentially poor; he likes her for who she is.

I have a soft side for films like this one. I found the romantic aspects of the film to be quite sweet, and Arthur's character is just so darned lovable that you kind of have to stick around for the entire film. There's not a boring moment to spare, mostly due to the fact that the dialogue is always interesting, clever, and funny; and the characters are almost always doing something amusing or genuinely entertaining. This is a smartly written film, and while the story doesn't go to incredible ends to make itself unique, it fits in just right, and coincidentally, so does the movie.

I guess we must thank the actor, Dudley Moore, for portraying Arthur in such a brilliant and memorable way. Moore is funny, seductive, and lovable as the drunk Arthur; and there will never be another who can portray the character so well. He's THE Arthur; the one and only. Luckily, there's also some good performances from John Gielgud as Hobson, and Liza Minnelli as Linda. There's something that I find entertaining and interesting about Minnelli in particular; although I can't quite put my finger on it. I do, however, find her beautiful and endlessly attractive. She's got a Joan Jett vibe going on, visually, and something much different going on, emotionally. I appreciated that.

"Arthur" is a fun movie, knowing how much worse it could have been. The premise didn't appeal to me much on paper, but I liked how the filmmakers executed it here. This film is funny, awesome, and has a pinch of sweetness added in. But this isn't typical Hollywood sappiness; this is real tenderness. Nothing tear-jerkingly tender, no, but rather stuff that just makes you want to hug the hell out of this movie. It's irresistibly charming, surprisingly NOT crude, and has some of the smartest and most memorable humor I've seen in a long time. You'd have to be heartless not to be charmed.

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April 11, 2011
Such a timely review with the release of its re-issue! Been many years since I've seen this movie last. You guys are making me want to pick up the dvd again!
 
April 10, 2011
Great review Ryan. This one just does not interest me, but if I happen to come across it i'll check it out.
 
1
More Arthur (Original 1981 movie) reviews
review by . December 30, 2009
posted in Screen Gems
One of the very best romantic comedies of the 1980's.
Recently, I watched the 1981 romantic comedy "Arthur" for the first time in a long time.  I discovered that nearly three decades after its initial release this film has not lost its any of its charm.  Arthur Bach (Dudley Moore) is a hapless millionaire playboy who is rarely sober and seems entirely incapable of doing anything for himself.  Lucky for him that his trusted valet Hobson (John Gielgud) is usually around and looking out for his interests.  …
Quick Tip by . August 30, 2009
One of my all time favs- ARTHUR- starring Dudley Moore, Liza Minelli- unforgettable characters, great writing, best love story.
About the reviewer
Ryan J. Marshall ()
Ranked #11
It's very likely that the only kind of reviews I'll ever post here are movie reviews. I'm very passionate about film; and at this point, it pretty much controls my life. Film gives us a purpose; … more
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Wiki

The ads for Arthur suggested that this was an obnoxious film about an obnoxious man, an eternally drunken millionaire indulging his every whim. Instead, Arthur (Dudley Moore) is a sweet, somewhat pathetic character whose millions have left him lonely and with no motivation in life. When the film opens, Arthur is on the threshold of an arranged marriage with simpering socialite Jill Eikenberry, whom he does not love. Everyone expects Arthur to behave himself, but nobody truly cares for his well-being, with the exception of father-figure butler John Gielgud (who won an Oscar for his performance) and blue-collar shoplifter Liza Minnelli. Arthur would prefer to marry the lowly Minnelli, but his iron-willed grandmother (Geraldine Fitzgerald) threatens to pull the plug on his huge inheritance if he doesn't honor his position in life and go through with his marriage to Eikenberry. A sequel, Arthur 2: On the Rocks, followed in 1988. ~ Hal Erickson, All Movie Guide
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