review for Arthur on AllMovie

Arthur (1981)
by Brendon Hanley review

Arthur -- both the movie and its lead character -- is an anachronism. The tag line for the movie says it all: "I race cars, I play tennis, I fondle women, but I have weekends off and I am my own boss!" Not since the genial, sophisticated comedies of the '30s has a central character been so happy to spend his time getting sloshed and living the high life. Unfortunately, humorous drinking and hangover scenes (see the last quarter of The Philadelphia Story) went out of favor sometime around 1950. Arthur does its best to recapture the tone of drunken frivolity, but it's more than just the consequence-free drinking that makes it a tribute to those glory days. The eternal conflicts between tradition and freedom, class and happiness, and youth and age are also reminiscent of that time. There's even a crazy father-in-law-to-be straight out of a Leo McCarey movie. But, everything is sure to stay nice and light, and Dudley Moore and his grinning English sensibility are perfectly cast in the title role. He is funny (if slightly annoying after a while) in his manic moments and endearing in his quieter ones. British veteran John Gielgud finally won an Oscar for his perfectly measured performance as Arthur's long-suffering father figure/butler.