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.
Paula's aunt, Alice Alquist, a famous entertainer, is murdered in her home. Paula, who lives with her aunt, finds the body. Police fail to find the killer, and Paula is sent away to school. Ten years later, Paula returns to London with her new husband. They take up residence in her aunt's house, which she has inherited. Paula is increasingly isolated by her husband but does come to the attention of an admirer of her aunt, Mr. Brian Cameron. Written by
Sandra Douglass <email@example.com
Ingrid Bergman found the beginning love scene with Charles Boyer so uncomfortable, because the two had just met prior to filming the scene, that she refused to do any other such love scene with someone she had just met for the rest of her career. When a similar situation arose with Anthony Perkins while she was filming Goodbye Again (1961), she asked Perkins to kiss her privately in her dressing room to prepare for the scene, so she would not be embarrassed and flustered while kissing him on screen. See more »
(at around 21 mins) When Gregory first plays the pianoforte the instrument is in tune despite its being in a deserted house for many years, and despite Paula's mentioning it would need to be tuned only moments before. See more »
Paula Alquist Anton:
If I were not mad, I could have helped you. Whatever you had done, I could have pitied and protected you. But because I am mad, I hate you. Because I am mad, I have betrayed you. And because I'm mad, I'm rejoicing in my heart, without a shred of pity, without a shred of regret, watching you go with glory in my heart!
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The opening and closing credits are displayed over a background of a burning gaslight. If you look at the shadow on the wallpaper, you see a man strangling a woman. See more »
If you're looking for everything you've ever wanted to know about horror, mystery, depression, and suspense, go take a peek into Ingrid Bergman's eyes.
The actress -- who would soon become blacklisted after her marriage to Italian director Roberto Rossellini -- can convey every emotion and nuance of her character through her amazingly expressive eyes. Completely believable in George Cukor's Gaslight as a wife whose husband (Charles Boyer) is trying to make insane, Bergman can show you all her turmoil and emotional stress just by looking around.
The plot is simple, perhaps even arcane. A famous opera singer is murdered in London, leaving behind no motive, no clues, and Paula, the young niece who discovered the body. Paula is sent to Italy, where she, too, studies music, until she elopes with an older, dashing pianist (Boyer). He convinces her to move back to the exact same house where her aunt was murdered, where nothing has been changed in all those years. And, naturally, here is where the movie really begins.
Soon, her husband starts acting very strangely, and starts convincing her that she is very ill and unable to go out. Trapped in the house, alone with her husband, a somewhat-deaf cook, and a tart of a housekeeper, Paula soon starts to hear noises, see things, lose things, and even hide things. Or is she? Is she going mad? Or is her husband -- who she is supposed to love, honor, and obey -- making her mad?
The show is Bergman's to steal, and she does so with gusto, garnering an Oscar for her endeavor. With her performance, Bergman transforms the character of Paula Alquist from a weak, paranoid wimp of a wife into a woman struggling with her own identity and her role in marriage and society. Perhaps unintentionally, perhaps unwittingly, Bergman's Paula is a symbol and a superhero for all women trapped in an abusive marriage. Even today.
Granted, the story line is somewhat contrived, and one can't help but wonder how Paula never notices that her husband is completely evil BEFORE the marriage. Also, Joseph Cotten, as the Scotland Yard detective smitten with Paula's beauty, seems to come out of nowhere. Still, the acting prevails over the plot, and what better actor to come out of nowhere than Cotten? His charm and charisma make up for his character's two-dimensionality.
Although there are faults, Gaslight is an extraordinary film, generating its suspense not from an evil lurking in the shadows, but from the psychology of the mind itself. Perhaps one of the first "pure" psychological thrillers, Gaslight, just like Ingrid Bergman's eyes, contains the perfect blend of mystery, suspense, and beauty.
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