Written and Directed by Steve Gordon
Starring Dudley Moore, Liza Minnelli, John Gielgud
Arthur (Dudley Moore) is just the kind of drunk you want to have around. He's also the kind of drunk that doesn't exist. When he drinks, and we're talking a lot of scotch here, he becomes more openly witty. He's still able to function, albeit a bit clumsily. He doesn't say or do anything he doesn't really intend, save for the first ten minutes of the movie, where he picks up a hooker, takes her to dinner, and forgets who she is or why she's there. He's not as charming as he is when he's sober... I think... but we rarely see him completely sober, so I can't say that for certain.
A lush though he may be, he's a good lush. Dudley Moore was imbued with more charm than most, and he pours all of it into this role. You feel a strong, genuine affection for Arthur, not to mention Linda Marolla (Liza Minnelli) and, most of all, Arthur's butler, Hobson (A deservedly Oscar-winning turn by John Gielgud). You don't need to know much more going into this movie than the fact that Arthur is worth $750 million, and his control-freak father will cut him off if he doesn't marry a woman he couldn't care less for. All Arthur wants, like the rest of us, is to fall in love. And he really means it.
The jokes are sharp, the appeal is universal, and all of the performances are wonderful. This is the kind of simple and entertaining movie other simple and entertaining movies aim to be. The story suggests two possible resolutions from the outset. The first is that Arthur marries the woman he doesn't love and keeps his money. The second is that he decides not to marry her, and gets cut off forever. I won't tell you what it goes with. I will tell you it's not what you think. And, on a final note, if we were all as personable as Dudley Moore, the world would be a better place.