Years after her aunt was murdered in her home, a young woman moves back into the house with her new husband. However, he has a secret that he will do anything to protect, even if it means driving his wife insane.
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Twenty years ago, old Mrs. Barlow was killed in her home at 12, Pimlico Square for her priceless rubies. The murderer searched the whole house without finding them, then disappeared. The house has been empty since then, but now Paul and Bella Mallen move into the apartment. Bella Mallen suffers from forgetfulness and nervousness - at least that is what her husband tells her. An elderly horse wrangler, B.G. Rough worked as a policeman twenty years ago and still remembers the unsolved case. He notices that Mr. Mallen looks just like Louis Barre, Mrs. Barlow's nephew. And why does Mr. Mallen mysteriously leave every night just to go into the apartment next door, no. 14? Written by
When later remade as Gaslight (1944) with Charles Boyer and Ingrid Bergman, the studio (MGM) attempted to have all prints of this earlier version destroyed. Fortunately, it was unsuccessful (in fact it is thought that director Thorold Dickinson surreptitiously struck off a print himself before the negatives were binned). See more »
Camera pans across the tossed room with woman's dead body. When the police come up, the position of the woman's hand has changed. See more »
"Creates an air of electric tension that Hollywood could only envy."
In Victorian London, Louis Bower (Walbrook), murdered his aunt for her precious rubies that are hidden somewhere in her house, only he couldn't find them. Having eluded the police for a number of years and changed his name to Paul Mallen, he takes a wife in the fragile Bella (Wynyard), and the couple move back into the house so that he can continue his search under cover as a respectable Victorian husband. At the same time he tries to drive his wife out of her mind because he is afraid that she might discover his guilty secret...
The first film version of Patrick Hamilton's successful stage play is technically modest compared to the 1944 Hollywood remake (see my review), but this British National production directed by Thorold Dickinson creates an atmosphere of genuine electric tension that Hollywood could only envy. Hardly surprising really that they tried to destroy the negative of this picture. Fortunately prints have survived and it often turns up on TCM every few months. Good performances too, especially from Walbrook who portrays the villain as a vile Victorian bully whereas Charles Boyer played it smooth. Wynyard does well as the tortured wife while Cathleen Cordell is fine as the tarty parlour maid whom Walbrook uses to add insult to his wife's injury.
The film was available in the UK on VHS but it has since been deleted, although the Hollywood version is out on DVD. Let's hope this version finds it's way on to DVD too.
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