Arthur is a cool little romantic comedy about a playboy gagillionaire that is being shoved down a path of marrying a girl he really doesn’t love (Susan), and being forced to shape up into someone respectable to please his family and future in-laws.
The lead is played by Dudley Moore, in his best movie role. The role does seem to be written for a younger man, but Moore is charming and likeable, and makes it easy to overlook this (and the fact he’s English among a family of Americans). Rather than being a spoilt, obnoxious playboy, he’s a spoilt, likeable, but rather sad playboy.
The first section, where Moore plays a happy drunk, is fantastically funny, but it soon settles into a reasonable romantic comedy, where he starts to fall in love with an average working class girl, played very nicely by Liza Minelli. However, as usual, the course of true love doesn’t run smooth, and Arthur is given an ultimatum…marry the girl he should, or possibly lose access to all his money – an awful lot of money…
As I said, Moore is great here, as is Minelli and the guy playing her character’s father (who, when his daughter rejects Arthur, weeps like he’s the one with the broken heart). Even funnier is John Gielgud, playing Hobson, Arthur’s butler, best friend and, in effect, guardian. Hobson is a truly great comic creation. No one can do condescending and sarcastic like a posh Englishman.
The film cracks along at a good pace, and is definitely the funniest at the beginning and whenever Arthur has a good drink, and it’s a pretty cool ending. The theme song ‘Moon and New York City’, was a huge hit at the time, and is okay.
Rewatchability: Very rewatchable, at least yearly.
Age suitability: Middle teens upwards.