12 Things You Didn’t Know About Oscar-Winning Comedy Arthur
Starring the late, great Dudley Moore as New York billionaire Arthur Bach, Arthur was one of the most critically acclaimed comedies of 1981 and went on to win a number of major awards.
In the film, Arthur is about to partake in an arranged marriage to a wealthy heiress, but instead ends up falling for a working-class girl from the wrong side of town played by the brilliant Liza Minnelli.
Below are 12 things that you probably didn’t know about the film that made it to number ten on Bravo TV channel’s list of 100 Funniest Movies.
12. It could have starred Jack Nicholson, Al Pacino, John Travolta or John Belushi
A number of big name Hollywood actors were considered for the role of Arthur Bach before Dudley Moore was cast.
Actors that were linked with the part included Jack Nicholson, Al Pacino, John Travolta, John Belushi, James Caan and Richard Dreyfuss.
11. It was the only film to be directed by the late Steve Gordon
Arthur was the only film to be directed by Steve Gordon, who died of a heart attack in 1982 at just 44 years of age.
Gordon primarily worked as a writer for TV shows, but also wrote the 1978 Henry Winkler film The One and Only.
10. Dudley Moore only sounds English in the film because he was unable to do an American accent
Director Steve Gordon initially wanted Dudley Moore to perform his role with an American accent, but Moore had trouble perfecting the dialect so instead spoke using his natural English tone.
Unfortunately Arthur’s biological father in the film still had an American accent, which was explained away by suggesting that Arthur was taught to speak by Hobson the butler.
9. John Gielgud never understood the jokes he was making as his character
Legendary stage and screen actor John Gielgud took on the role of Arthur’s butler Hobson, despite not understanding many of the jokes he performs in the film.
Producer Charles Joffe has been quoted as saying that Gielgud “never really understood the jokes he was giving.” Liza Minnelli, who played Arthur’s love interest Linda Marolla, has back up this claim this by recalling that Gielgud kept turning to her and Dudley Moore to ask if what he just said was funny.
8. Dozens of takes had to be shot because Dudley Moore kept making the cast and crew laugh
The set of Arthur was reportedly filled with fun and jokes, with Dudley Moore in particular continually trying to make the cast and crew laugh.
This made it difficult to shoot scenes successfully though, with one in particular requiring 27 takes to get right!
7. Arthur’s distinctive laugh did not come easily for Dudley Moore
You may remember Arthur’s rather distinctive laugh in the film, a cackle that did not come easily for Dudley Moore.
“Those scenes in the beginning of me laughing were something else to do,” Moore was once quoted as saying. “Getting the laughter out of myself was a problem.”
6. Liza Minnelli boarded a real bus by mistake during filming
During filming of one scene in New York, Liza Minnelli was meant to board a fake bus on Fifth Avenue.
Unfortunately a real bus came along which Minnelli boarded by mistake, much to the amusement of the film’s cast and crew!
5. Four different endings were filmed
Director Steve Gordon revealed after Arthur’s release that he was unsure how the film should end, even whilst it was being edited. Four different endings were shot in total.
The first cut of the film focused more on the relationship between Arthur and Hobson, but Moore wasn’t a fan of it, meaning that changes were made.
4. Six advertising campaigns were scrapped by the film studio
Orion Pictures, who took over production on Arthur from Paramount after they decided to drop the project, experienced a lot of trouble knowing how to promote the film successfully, reportedly scrapping six advertising campaigns before they finally settled on the one that was used.
Producer Charles Joffe was quoted as saying that he and director Steve Gordon “had no feel where the audience was. If you had called me four weeks before Arthur opened and asked me who was going to go see the film, I couldn’t have answered.”
3. It won two Academy Awards and four Golden Globe Awards
Arthur did particularly well during awards season, having been nominated for four Academy Awards and winning two, for Best Actor in a Supporting Role (John Gielgud) and Best Original Song (Arthur’s Theme).
It did even better at the Golden Globe Awards, winning Best Film – Musical or Comedy and Best Actor – Musical or Comedy (Dudley Moore) in addition to again picking up the Best Supporting Actor and Best Original Song gongs.
2. Its 1988 sequel was a massive critical and commercial failure
Despite performing badly at the box office during its first few weeks, Arthur went on to make $95 million in the US alone, making it the fourth highest-grossing film of 1981.
This success led to the 1988 sequel Arthur 2: On the Rocks, in which Dudley Moore, Liza Minnelli and John Gielgud all returned. Unfortunately the film was a massive critical and commercial failure, making less than $15 million at the US box office.
1. It was remade in the US in 2011 and three times in India
Arthur was remade in 2011 with Russell Brand in the lead role, but like the original film’s sequel, it was a critical and financial failure.
The film also had three Indian remakes: Sharaabi in 1984, Nee Thanda Kanike in 1985 and Tumsa Nahin Dekha in 2004.