Arthur (1981 film)
Theatrical release poster
|Directed by||Steve Gordon|
|Produced by||Robert Greenhut
Charles H. Joffe
|Written by||Steve Gordon|
|Music by||Burt Bacharach|
|Edited by||Susan E. Morse|
|Distributed by||Warner Bros.|
|Running time||97 minutes|
Arthur is a 1981 comedy film written and directed by Steve Gordon. The film stars Dudley Moore as the eponymous Arthur Bach, a drunken New York City millionaire who is on the brink of an arranged marriage to a wealthy heiress, but ends up falling for a common working-class girl from Queens. It was the first and only film directed by Gordon, who died in 1982 of a heart attack at age 44.
Arthur earned nearly $96 million domestically, making it the fourth highest grossing film of 1981. It was notable for its title song, "Arthur's Theme (Best That You Can Do)", co-written by Christopher Cross, Burt Bacharach, Carole Bayer Sager and Peter Allen, and performed by Christopher Cross. The film was nominated for a total of four Academy Awards. Sir John Gielgud won Best Supporting Actor and the theme song won Best Original Song.
Arthur was followed by a 1988 sequel, Arthur 2: On the Rocks, which was enough of a failure for star Dudley Moore to disown it. A poorly received remake starring Russell Brand was released in April 2011.
Arthur Bach (Dudley Moore) is a spoiled alcoholic from New York City who likes to be driven in his chauffeured Rolls-Royce through Central Park. Arthur is heir to a portion of his family's vast fortune, which he is told will only be his if he marries the upper class Susan Johnson (Jill Eikenberry), the daughter of a business acquaintance of his father. He does not love Susan, but his family feels she will make him finally grow up. During a shopping trip in Manhattan, accompanied by his valet Hobson (John Gielgud), Arthur witnesses a young woman, Linda Morolla (Liza Minnelli), shoplifting a necktie. He intercedes with store security on her behalf, and later asks her for a date. Despite his attraction to her, Arthur remains pressured by his family to marry Susan.
While visiting his grandmother Martha (Geraldine Fitzgerald), Arthur shares his feelings for Linda, but is warned again that he will be disowned if he does not marry Susan. Hobson, who has been more like a father to him than Arthur's real father, realizes that Arthur is beginning to grow up and secretly encourages Linda to attend Arthur's engagement party (where Moore, an accomplished pianist, entertains guests). Hobson confides in Linda that he senses Arthur loves her. Linda crashes the party, held at the estate of Arthur's father, and she and Arthur eventually spend time alone together - which is noticed by both families. Hobson is later hospitalized and Arthur rushes to his side, vowing to care for the person who has long cared for him. After several weeks, Hobson dies and then Arthur, who has been sober the entire time, goes on a drinking binge. On his wedding day, he visits the diner where Linda works and proposes to her. At the church, he jilts Susan, resulting in her abusive father, Burt Johnson (Stephen Elliott), attempting to stab Arthur with a cheese knife, though he is prevented by Martha.
A wounded Arthur announces in the church that there will be no wedding and passes out. Linda attends to his wounds and they discuss living a life of poverty. A horrified Martha tells Arthur that he can have his fortune because no Bach has ever been working class. Arthur declines, but at the last minute, talks privately to Martha. When he returns to Linda's side, he tells her that he declined again – Martha's dinner invitation, he means - but he did accept $750 million. Arthur's pleased chauffeur Bitterman (Ted Ross) drives the couple through Central Park.
- Dudley Moore as Arthur Bach
- Liza Minnelli as Linda Marolla
- John Gielgud as Hobson
- Geraldine Fitzgerald as Martha Bach
- Jill Eikenberry as Susan Johnson
- Stephen Elliott as Burt Johnson
- Thomas Barbour as Stanford Bach
- Ted Ross as Bitterman
- Barney Martin as Ralph Marolla
- Paul Gleason as Executive
- Phyllis Somerville as Saleslady
- Lou Jacobi as Plant store owner
- Justine Johnston as Aunt Pearl
- Lawrence Tierney as Man in Diner Demanding Roll
- Mark Margolis (uncredited) as Wedding guest
For the role of Arthur, Steve Gordon had originally considered George Segal; however, after the success of 10, Segal was replaced with Dudley Moore, who had also stepped in when Segal withdrew from the lead role of 10. Conversely, Barbra Streisand replaced Moore with Segal while filming The Mirror Has Two Faces.
It was first reported in 2008 that Arthur was to be remade by Warner Bros. with the British actor/comedian Russell Brand in the lead role. Brand confirmed this during his March 10, 2009 appearance on The Howard Stern Show. On April 22, 2010 it was announced that Helen Mirren would star opposite Brand, taking on John Gielgud's part. On June 11, the Hollywood Reporter announced that Jennifer Garner and Nick Nolte had also joined the cast. Garner plays the heiress while Nolte is her ruthless father. Greta Gerwig stars as a charismatic tour guide with whom Arthur falls in love. Jason Winer directed the remake and Peter Baynham penned the script. Filming began in July 2010. It was released in the U.S. on April 8, 2011. The remake was a critical and financial failure.
Awards and nominations
- Best Actor in a Supporting Role – John Gielgud
- Best Original Song – Burt Bacharach, Carole Bayer Sager, Christopher Cross and Peter Allen for "Arthur's Theme (Best That You Can Do)" which was performed by Cross
- Best Actor in a Leading Role – Dudley Moore
- Best Writing, Screenplay Written Directly for the Screen – Steve Gordon
American Film Institute lists
- "Arthur, Box Office Information". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved March 9, 2012.
- "1981 Domestic Grosses". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved March 9, 2012.
- Canby, Vincent (1981-07-17). "ARTHUR – Review – NYTimes.com –". The New York Times. Retrieved January 23, 2014.
- "ARTHUR". Chicago Sun Times. Retrieved January 23, 2014.
- "Cinema: Hobson's Choice". Time. 1981-08-03. Retrieved January 23, 2014.
- "Arthur". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved January 23, 2014.
- "Russell Brand as Arthur?". Totalfilm.com. 2008-12-04. Retrieved January 23, 2014.
- "Garner, Nolte eyeing roles in 'Arthur' remake". The Hollywood Reporter. Retrieved January 23, 2014.
- Arthur at the Internet Movie Database
- Arthur at AllMovie
- Arthur at Box Office Mojo
- Arthur at Rotten Tomatoes