Arthur was a big hit in 1981.  It was nominated for four Oscars and won two.  The Listener in February of 1982 carries a two star review of the film, and I’m with The Listener; two out of five seems about right.  The most astonishing thing about this movie for me is that John Gielgud won an Oscar for best supporting actor.

I think the film can best be summarised this way.

A well-dressed, hunky man,

who is sober and sensible,

and likes well-dressed, sophisticated women

almost marries a crazy weirdo

but eventually ends up with the woman of his dreams instead.

The Listener reviewer describes Liza in the scene above this way: “When Linda comes to Arthur’s engagement party… she’s wearing pink ruffled silk and her sleekly groomed black head sits above it like a bumble bee on a hibiscus.”


Personally I found it hard to decide which out of two cheeky little numbers was my favourite fashion masterstroke in this movie.  In the end I decided that the father of the bride’s party jacket comes in second,

to Liza’s splendid opening ensemble.

Hello the 1980s.  In the 80s we said YES to colour (unless we were an extra in a movie and then we said, “dress me in your drabbest grey”).

I didn’t like Arthur.  The first ten minutes were hard to watch because the lead character made bad jokes, laughed his head off, and was drunk.  It was a bit like being with a drunk who made bad jokes and laughed his head off.  Maybe this is a great movie to watch when you’re drunk.  Maybe it works like parties.  All the drunks enjoy it; all the sober people get tight smiles, and mentally judge people.

John Gielgud was fairly good.  I imagine he greeted his Oscar with bemusement.  The title song also won an Oscar and is pretty famous.

When you get caught between the moon and New York City
I know it’s crazy but it’s true
If you get caught between the moon and New York City
The best that you can do (the best that you can do)
The best that you can do is fall in love

When you get caught between the moon and New York City?  Isn’t that everyone in New York?  Why is this bad?  What’s the worst you could do?  A hate crime?  Probably.  Hate crimes are bad.  I’ll admit it doesn’t scan as well to sing:

If you get caught between the moon and New York City

The worst that you can do

The worst that you can do is assault a handicapped person.

Has impact though.

Arthur did have its moments.  Well, a moment.  I laughed out loud once, and it was a big laugh.

Well, not that big.

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I wrote a book called Kaitiaki o te Pō

11 thoughts on “Arthur”

  1. It’s a catchy song. I have this idea (let’s not grace it with the term “theory”) that catchy music anesthetises your critical faculties and allows you to happily sing out loud, in front of other people, things you would normally refuse to say even if paid. I think that this true from Tutti Frutti down to My Hump… lumps, whatever.

  2. I think the lyrics of the Christopher Cross song have more impact when one is drunk out of one’s mind. Reading them stone-cold sober make the lyrics appear to be….what is the word….stupid.

  3. Angie – I have a peculiar weakness for talking animals in movies. It brings out the girlie laugh in me. The review I read of this movie from 1982 said that Liza had a “frank” sexuality. I think this is being kind (although not to Frank).

    Last Song – Sometimes I used to play his speeches to my History class. They make me teary for some reason I can’t really explain. Unfortunately he has such a slurry delivery all the students think he is drunk (which he may well have been), so their snickers somewhat undercut my elegiac mood.

  4. I am so with you on this assessment. But I have to assume (based on the number of disapproving looks I got over the years when I said I’d never seen this “classic”) that we are in the minority. My husband convinced me last year that I finally needed to see it. The two things I couldn’t stomach: his girlie drunken laugh in the first few scenes and how visually unappealing Liza is.

    I love Christopher Cross music despite that my musician brother-in-law has convinced me he is in fact “poor”.

  5. Luckily Winston was so handsome he could get away with this kind of thing.

    Sorry, for handsome read conceited.

  6. Ha 😉 I like those quotes. Some of them remind me of the things Winston Churchill used to say… (I’m paraphrasing from memory)

    Woman: You sir, are drunk
    Churchill: And you madam, are ugly, but I’ll be sober in the morning.


    Woman: If you were my husband, I would poison your drink
    Churchill: And if I were your husband, I would drink it

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