Never mind last year’s remake starring Russell Brand (really, it’s best if you stay as far away from it as possible); the original Arthur is the real deal, a gleefully subversive comedy about a lovable alcoholic that features what might be Dudley Moore‘s best-ever performance. Arthur Bach is an incessantly intoxicated young millionaire who’s staring down the barrel of an arranged marriage to an intolerable socialite (Jill Eikenberry, wonderfully despicable), despite the fact that he’s in love with Linda (Liza Minnelli), a working-class waitress/shoplifter from (gasp!) Queens. Arthur’s family threatens to cut off his $750 million inheritance unless he goes through with the marriage that they hope will make him finally “grow up”; in desperation, he turns to his wise valet and true father figure, Hobson (John Gielgud), who works his wily ways in quietly sabotaging the impending wedding. Arthur is little more than a trifle, but it’s a funny and charming one; Gielgud won an Oscar for his (often bed-ridden) performance, as did Christopher Cross’ title tune, “Arthur’s Theme (Best That You Can Do).” This was the first and only film to be directed by Steve Gordon, who died in 1982 of a heart attack at age 44; his deft and unobtrusive touch was sorely missing from the wretched 1988 sequel, Arthur 2: On the Rocks, which Dudley Moore eventually disowned.
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