“Arthur” is a sparkling entertainment which attempts, with a large measure of success, to resurrect the amusingly artificial conventions of 1930s screwball romantic comedies. Dudley Moore is back in top-10 form as a layabout drunken playboy who finds himself falling in love with working-class girl Liza Minnelli just as he’s being forced into an arranged marriage with a society WASP.
Central dilemma, which dates back to Buster Keaton at least, has wastrel Moore faced with the choice of marrying white bread heiress Jill Eikenberry or being cut off by his father from $750 million. After much procrastination, he finally agrees to the union, but situation is complicated when, in a vintage (meet cute), he protects shoplifter Minnelli from the authorities and finds himself genuinely falling for someone for the first time in his padded life.
As Moore’s eternally supportive but irrepressibly sarcastic valet, John Gielgud gives a priceless performance. Minnelli fills the bill in a less showbizzy and smaller part than usual, but pic’s core is really the wonderful relationship between Moore and Gielgud.
1981: Best Supp. Actor (John Gielgud), Song ( Best That You Can Do ).
Nominations: Best Actor (Dudley Moore), Original Screenplay