If there was ever a lovable, charismatic, and downright charming playboy millionaire roaming the streets of New York City, then it would be Arthur Bach. His hysterical and heartfelt life is the setting for the 1981 critically acclaimed hit ‘Arthur’, which celebrates its 30 year anniversary filled with laughs, antics and of course alcohol to say the least. When this film from writer/director Steve Gordon was released, it helped audiences further realize the incredible talent of actor Dudley Moore (Arthur) and his magnificent comedic style which catapulted him into comedy royalty. ‘Arthur’ was not only nominated for four Academy Awards but won for Best Original Song and Best Actor in a Supporting Role for John Gielgud.
This charming story quickly introduces us to Arthur Bach (Dudley Moore) who is scouring the streets of New York City looking for a female companion to spend the night with; while of course the entire time drunk out of his mind and having fun. His unforgettable laugh is what defines his character early on as being childish, but amusing to interact with. His loyal chauffeur Bitterman (Ted Ross) knows the score when it comes to Arthur’s behavior and he still respects the wishes of this man throughout the film.
We learn that Arthur is the son of a very wealthy man and is also the heir to a $750 million fortune, but only under one condition which is that he must marry a woman he does not love named Susan Johnson (Jill Eikenberry). This is unpleasant news for Arthur since he cannot find any connection with Susan and is forced to drink in order to cope with this predetermined decision. Arthur’s drinking is sporadic and out of control but it is something he loves to do, this is known by almost everyone he knows, especially his loyal valet Hobson (John Gielgud). Hobson is both a servant and a father figure for Arthur, since Arthur’s real father is very distant to him, and he tries to give him guidance with every decision he makes but they seem to wash away with every drink Arthur consumes.
It’s not until we meet Linda Marolla (Liza Minnelli) when we realize that Arthur has found his true love and must find a way to be with Linda without losing his fortune and becoming poor. Arthur then becomes distressed knowing that he cannot have both the money and the girl, but things become even worse as we find out that his beloved Hobson has been hospitalized. The drinking becomes overwhelming, the antics become even wilder, and Arthur finds no reason to fight for love anymore. It’s not until Arthur realizes what Hobson said while in the hospital that he must follow his heart and just stick with the woman he loves, no matter what the cost.
The ending is very heartfelt and we do get to see a happy ending after all, but most importantly we realize that Arthur after all this time has grown up and is not as much childish as he was before. The hidden laughs and comedy throughout are true gems to what makes this film one of the best comedies of all time. With its sequel ‘Arthur 2: On the Rocks’ which premiered in 1988 and of course the recent 2011 remake starring Russell Brand as Arthur and Helen Mirren as Hobson, it is plain to see that this film is truly notable to behold and a loving story that can be shared by anyone. 30 years of the great Arthur Bach who began as a drunk, hysterical, childish millionaire and grew up to become a man.
(‘Arthur’ is rated PG but should be investigated by parents before viewing with younger children for sexually suggested themes, some mild violence, some language, alcohol use, and scenes of fighting.)
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