There’s little to laugh about when it comes to alcoholism, but that’s not to say that a drunk can’t be funny. Movie audiences fell in love with one such man in 1981, a witty millionaire who never met a martini he didn’t like in the box-office hit, Arthur.

Arthur Bach (Dudley Moore) has it all, or so it would seem. He’s obscenely wealthy, has a beautiful woman desperate to marry him, and a pair of loyal servants who cater to his every need. Arthur is still a kid a heart, still plays with his train set and brings toys into the tub, all of which concerns his butler and best friend, Hobson (John Gielgud), a stuffy old man with a razer-sharp wit who views Arthur as much as a son as an employer.

For all of his treasure, Arthur is an unhappy man, mostly because of his pending marriage to Susan Johnson, the daughter of one of his father’s wealthy business acquaintances. Her father also happens to be a bear of a man with a homicidal temper. Problem is, Arthur doesn’t love Susan. And so, he spends his time drinking like a fish and making an ass out of himself in public.

One day, while out shopping with Hobson, he witnesses a shoplifter named Linda Morolla (Liza Minnelli) steal a tie from a snooty department store. When she is caught by security, he steps in and saves her hide. She’s the most intriguing woman he’s ever encountered, one he could see himself spending the rest of his life with. Happier than he’s ever been, he tells his grandmother that he met someone wonderful. With little sympathy, she informs him in no uncertain terms that if he doesn’t marry Susan, the family will cut off his fortune forever.

That’s not Arthur’s only problem though. Hobson, whose health has been steadily declining, is hospitalized and not expected to survive. A devastated Arthur stops drinking entirely and moves into the hospital to care for his dear friend. Hobson remarks that Arthur is finally growing up and tells him that he should follow his heart regarding his relationship woes. Hobson eventually succumbs to his illness and, overwhelmed with grief, Arthur goes on a huge drinking binge, then proposes to Linda. Now he just has to call off the other wedding and survive the wrath of a very angry father-in-law.

Audiences loved Arthur, making it the fourth highest-grossing film of the year. It also garnered four Oscar nominations, winning two – one for Best Supporting Actor to John Gielgud for his role as Hobson, and the other for Best Original Song, for the Burt Bacharach penned “Arthur’s Theme.”

A sequel followed in 1988, called Arthur 2: On the Rocks. Despite reuniting the entire cast (even Gielgud in a brief dream sequence), the sequel failed to capture the charm of the original – or the box-office receipts. A remake of the original film, released in 2011 and starring Russell Brand in the title role, did about as well as the sequel to the original film.

Meanwhile, Arthur remains a beloved comedy from the era, and the late Dudley Moore, for all of his accomplishments, will forever be remembered as one of the funniest alcoholics ever to grace the big screen.

If you are a fan of this classic 80s comedy, we hope you will share all of your thoughts about Arthur in our comments section below.

One Response to “Arthur”

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  1. Junior says:

    I am between a rock and a hard place. I love Dudley Moore and his character in the Arthur role but I am against alcahol. I was almost killed by a drunk driver and alcaholism is no laughing matter in reality. Every other day someone dies because of an accident that was caused by alcahol. So am I a hypocrite because i watch and laugh at this movie? Well until my conscience gets to me I will keep watching.

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