US, 1973, 95 minutes, Colour.
Stella Stevens, Roddy Mc Dowell, Elsa Lanchester, Shani Wallis, Farley Granger, Patric Knowles, John McGiver?.
Directed by Georg Fenady.
Arnold might be called a schlocker - a horror murder film with touches of campy schlock!
The film was made by the Fenady brothers, who made such films as Terror in the Wax Museum, utilising the talents of a lot of stars of the past. This one borrows its plot from Agatha Christie style murders and The Cat and the Canary. A dead man is able to manipulate everybody that he knew - and is able to kill them after he himself has died, though he is embalmed and installed in the living room.
Stella Stevens sends up her own sexy image. Roddy Mc Dowell relishes the role of the villain. Supporting cast includes John Mc Giver as an old man in the local pub, Patrick Knowles as an ambitious lawyer - and Farley Granger as a crooked lawyer. Elsa Lanchester enjoys herself in the role of the dead man's sister. Bernard Fox has a good role as a daffy local policeman.
The film is really a spoof murder mystery.
1. Entertaining murder story, touches of horror? Borrowings from such old stories as The Cat and the Canary, And Then There Were None?
2. The English setting, the old castle, the village and the pubs? The special effects - dark nights? The ways of the murders? The musical score?
3. The focus on Arnold? His death, the marriage, his being installed in the living room? His portraits, watching everybody? His voice on the tapes? His cruel control over everyone? The theme song?
4. Karen, the wedding, the oddity of the wedding, her relationship with Arnold? Jealousy of Jocelyn? Her relationship with Robert? The reading of the will - and the messages on tape? Her deceiving Arnold, her feeling guilty, Arnold pursuing her? The succession of killings and her wanting to get away? Robert and the pressure for the money? The grieving widow, her fright? The relationship with Hester, Robert's death, Evans? Her death?
5. Hester, the daffy old lady, seemingly sensible, her relationship with Arnold and Robert? Going along with all the plans? The irony of her doing all the murders - and her relish at the end, killing Patrick? Her own greediness and being left alone with the money?
6. Robert, the younger brother, the cad, relationship with Karen, greed, defying Arnold, the coat and his death?
7. Douglas, the lawyer, suave, his ambitions, his greed and death?
8. Jocelyn, the severe widow, wanting to be separated from Arnold, retaining the title, her relationship with Evans? The change to glamour - and the make-up and her death?
9. Evans, greed, double-crossing? Meeting Karen - and the death in the shower?
10. The policeman, the parody of the English policeman - his steadiness, unimaginative approach, love for Flo, his father looking down on him? His making reports? Talking to Patrick? His father and Flo running off? The father, playing chess, ashamed of his son - and Flo as the affable barmaid?
11. Patrick, the gravedigger, talking with the policeman, his part of the plot? His own death?
12. The blend of the serious, the comic, the spoof, the farce - and all done with a touch over the top?