Momentos Eternos de la Historia del Cine – II / Arsenic and Old Lace [Frank Capra, 1944]

Momentos Eternos de la Historia del Cine – II / Arsenic and Old Lace [Frank Capra, 1944]

Arsenic and Old Lace [Frank Capra, 1944]

 

 

………………….

«You don`t see much elderberry wine nowadays –  I thought I `had my last glass of it»

[Mr. Witherspoon, en su último parlamento en Arsenic and Old Lace, antes de que caiga el telón]

Mr. Whiterspoon con Tía Abby y Tía Martha

Arsenic and Old Lace – «Arsénico y encaje antiguo», de Joseph Kesselring, dirigida por Bretaigne Windust, fue estrenada en Broadway, en el Fulton Theatre, el 10 de enero de 1941. La obra tiene tres actos y toda la acción tiene lugar en la sala de estar del hogar de los Brewster durante una tarde y la noche de un día de septiembre y, temprano, en la mañana del día siguiente.

Arsenic and Old Lace – Original Play Poster

En la producción original, el personaje de Jonathan Brewster, el supuesto hermano de Mortimer, lo interpretaba el mismísimo Boris Karloff al que se hace referencia en la secuencia. El gran Erich von Stroheim le sustituyó posteriormente en el papel.  Para el film de Capra, por indisponibilidad de Boris Karloff, que aún seguía representando el papel de Jonathan Brewster en los  escenarios, se eligió finalmente a Raymond Massey.

El magnífico Dr. Einstein – Heidelberg, 1919- es interpretado por otro viejo conocido de los Warner y de los Epstein, Peter Lorre.

Aunque la película, dirigida por Frank Capra, se filmó en 1941, no fue hasta 1944 que pudo finalmente estrenarse, una vez concluidas en Broadway las representaciones de la obra de teatro. Para el papel de Mortimer Brewster, Capra pensó en primer lugar en Bob Hope, que no estaba disponible, y también en Jack Benny e, ¡incluso!, en Ronald Reagan. Finalmente, por fortuna, el papel lo interpretaría para toda la eternidad Archibald Leach, más conocido como Cary Grant.

Arsenic and Old Lace – Film Poster

La adaptación de la obra corrió a cargo de los hermanos gemelos Julius J. Epstein y  Philip G. Epstein, dos de los más reputados guionistas de la época (y de un territorio que ha sido denominado «Jew York» por la abundancia de escritores y guionistas judíos, o de origen judío, vinculados a la ciudad de Nueva York durante los años 30 y 40 del pasado siglo). Ellos fueron también quienes, junto a Howard E. Koch, escribieron la adaptación de una obra de teatro que no fue nunca producida, escrita por Murray Burnett y Joan Alison, y que fue comprada tal cual -sin ser estrenada en los escenarios- por Warner Brothers por la suma de 20000 $ de la época (1940), una cantidad importante si tenemos en cuenta que los autores de dicha obra eran unos desconocidos. La obra en cuestión se titulaba Everybody Comes To Rick`s y se convirtió, por obra de no sabe qué o quién, en la inmortal Casablanca.

Con respecto a la época dorada del guión y de las adaptaciones cinematográficas del cine norteamericano recomiendo fervientemente la lectura de los cuatro volúmenes de Backstory, en los que Patrick McMilligan (autor también de una magnífica biografía de George Cukor) recopila entrevistas y conversaciones en las que los guionistas más señeros -desde los de la «edad de oro» hasta los de los años 80 del siglo pasado- hablan acerca de su trabajo y de las vicisitudes pasadas en relación con él (contando en algún caso anécdotas muy divertidas).

Y, por si acaso, como los Epstein y Koch le hacen decir al gran Claude Rains en Casablanca,

Round up the usual suspects!

Mortimer Brewster entra en escena.

______________

Secuencia preparada, montada y editada por Mortimer Brewster. Ha preferido mantener en esta ocasión el doblaje en español, aunque no siempre será el caso. Fue atendido estupendamente, como de costumbre, por sus tías Abby y Martha, que le sirvieron un delicioso té de Darjeeling con pastas (sin arsénico, claro).
 

Autor
Categories: Cinematografía

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