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Arthur is the story of a genuine Rich Idiot With No Day Job. Arthur Bach (Dudley Moore) comes from a wealthy family, and as such, he has never really had to grow up. He spends most of his time drinking and just generally enjoying himself. His father disapproves of his behavior, but is willing to continue to bankroll his son's activities as long as he goes through with the arranged marriage that he has set up for Arthur. The problem is, not only is Arthur not in love with his fiancee, he's just found love with a working-class girl (Liza Minnelli) from Queens. Hilarity Ensues as he tries to live his life his own way without getting cut off from the money.
This 1981 film was the biggest comedy hit of its year and the biggest solo success of Dudley Moore's career. It was followed by an unsuccessful sequel (Arthur 2: On the Rocks) in 1988. It has nothing to do with cartoon aardvarks, but is the nearest thing we're ever likely to get to a P. G. Wodehouse adaptation in the top-ten grossers of the year department.
- Adult Child
- The Alcoholic: Played for Laughs, big time, resulting in Values Dissonance from a modern viewpoint. The Critic spoofed this with the segment Arthur 3: Revenge of the Liver — though Arthur 2: On the Rocks had already addressed this issue. Alcohol still plays a major role in the 2011 film, though its exclusion from the trailer was a bit suspicious...
- Arranged Marriage
- Aw, Look — They Really Do Love Each Other: Hobson is constantly sarcastic and dismissive towards Arthur, going so far as to curse him behind his back. But it's nothing compared to his ire for others who speak ill of his employer. And Arthur stays by Hobson's bed without touching a drop of alcohol until Hobson's death.
- Deadpan Snarker: Hobson. Oh, so very much.
"It's been a distinct pleasure meeting you;...it's been a most memorable afternoon. Usually one must go to a bowling alley to meet a woman of your stature."
- Grande Dame: Arthur's grandmother, who is on the more intelligent and more ruthless end of the trope.
- Hooker with a Heart of Gold
- The Jeeves: Hobson. Very literally, and very directly, according to Word of God.
- Lonely Rich Kid: Though he's not actually a kid, Arthur fits the trope otherwise.
- Loveable Rogue: When Arthur first meets Linda, she's in the process of being caught shoplifting; Arthur saves her by paying for the tie, which was to be a birthday gift for her father.
- Never Mess with Granny: "Don't screw with me, Burt!"
- New York City: The setting.
- "Nice ... Hat."
- Not-So-Harmless Villain: Arthur assumes that because Susan has a generally bland personality, she won't be too bothered when he jilts her at the altar. Susan proceeds to prove Arthur wrong in spectacular fashion.
- Please Wake Up: Subverted hard. Arthur keeps telling Hobson to wake up and stop pretending to die. After Hobson dies, Arthur, drunk, tells another wino, how Hobson went to sleep - and never woke up.
- Precision F-Strike: Hobson, more notable because he's Sir John Gielgud.
Hobson: Perhaps you would like me to come in there and wash your dick for you, you little shit?
- Arthur gets one in as well.
Arthur: Susan... you're such an asshole!
- Pretty in Mink: The sequel has several furs, including Linda having a mink coat, and Susan wearing a black fox wrap.
- "The Reason You Suck" Speech: Hobson berates Arthur for whining that he's never been loved, calling him a "spoiled little shit", then telling him that not only is he rich, but he can afford to be an eccentric drunk ("Real drunks have no teeth and live in the gutter.") He tops it off by angrily telling him he loves him.
- Refrain From Assuming: The theme is not called "When You Get Caught Between the Moon and New York City", or even just "The Moon and New York City". It's called "Arthur's Theme (Best That You Can Do)".
- Rich in Dollars, Poor In Sense
- Romantic Comedy
- Runaway Groom
- Sarcasm Failure
- Screwball Comedy: One of the more successful attempts at "neo-screwball".
- Screw The Money, I'm In Love!: Arthur eventually chooses Linda over Susan. Grandma Martha then lets up and says that no grandson of hers would be poor, and they get to remain in the money after all. But he was willing to choose love over money. In the sequel, Burt's revenge plot hinges on driving Arthur to the point where he won't survive in the world unless he gives up Linda for Susan.
- Servile Snarker: Arthur's butler, Hobson.
Hobson, would you like to run my bath for me?
- Soapland Christmas: It actually hits all the points of one.
- Sophisticated As Hell: Martha. She buys one of the most famous paintings in the world, and mentions that the dealer "jerked her around" on the price.
- Spiritual Successor: It draws a lot of inspiration from P. G. Wodehouse's Jeeves and Wooster stories. Characters' names are changed so that the filmmakers can do their own thing with them. It also owes a debt to 1930s romantic comedies.
- Star-Crossed Lovers
- Tenchi Solution: Grandma Martha's solution? "Marry Susan, and have an affair with the girl from Queens!"
- Uncle Pennybags
- Yandere: Susan.