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Best Kept Secrets: Gaslight
philadelphiastorygirl1 March 2007
The first scene establishes the dreary tone of the film. It is nighttime in London and a murder goes unsolved. The magnificent Ingrid Bergman portrays Paula, the niece of the deceased woman. After living ten years trying to forget the past, Paula returns to her house in London at the suggestion of her new husband, Gregory (Charles Boyer). "I've found peace in loving you," Paula says and decides with the help of her husband, she is ready to face the past. Fear is an essential element in the story. It seems the police cannot find a motive for the murder but when a new young assistant comes to Scotland Yard, he sees something that others did not notice or would not pursue. The murderer remains at large and his next potential victim has returned to the very house where the first murder was committed.

The cast's flawless talent makes the film absolutely unforgettable. Charles Boyer is exceedingly ominous as Paula's obsessive husband. As the high-strung wife, Ingrid Bergman gives an outstanding performance. She is startling and brilliant. Brian Cameron, played by Joseph Cotton, makes his appearance later in the film but is wonderful nonetheless. Watch for the emphasis on foreshadowing and the beautiful lighting achieved in Gaslight, as well as the particular attention to the many details that make it spectacular. George Cukor's fantastic direction of this intriguing and suspicious tale will keep you on the edge of your seat.
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Them there eyes
srella6 November 2001
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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one classy thriller
George Cukor's 1944 Hollywood suspense flick "Gaslight" was originally made in 1940 in England under the title "Murder in Thorton Square". When the Hollywood producers got a hold of this hot commodity, they attempted to make the original film vanish from sight and memory by destroying many of the prints. Interesting how this particular tale parallels some of the mental manipulations employed in the film itself.

This tense, atmospheric film takes place in London in the 1870's several years after a murder shocked the residents of Thorton Square. Paula, the niece of the deceased woman, has inherited her aunt's house. Strange things start happening when she begins to occupy the place with her new husband. Through a steady thematic build we watch as she slowly loses her mind. "Gaslight" is a classic psychological thriller in the vein of the best Hitchcock with Ingrid Bergman, fresh off "Casablanca", stealing the show as the innocent victim of mental illness.
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Surprisingly Chilling Psychological Thriller
WritnGuy-214 February 2000
Not being a big fan of older movies myself (for some reason I really don't know) I decided to go out on a recommendation and rent "Gaslight." And I must be honest, I was impressed.

When Paula was younger, her aunt with whom lived with in Thornton Square in London was murdered by a strangler roaming the streets. Paula goes to stay in Italy, and some time later, meets Gregory. She and Gregory plan to marry, and after they do, they move to London, back to the exact house Paula lived in.

Not too long after, Paula starts to become "forgettful," as Gregory tells her. In fact, he tells her a lot of things...and she believes him. Then things she knows she had put somewhere or remembered doing seem nonexistent, and Paula is left to wonder if her sanity is in check. Then, many times, she starts hearing footsteps, and the gaslights are going down a lot. Is Paula going crazy, or is she being haunted by her dead aunt's spirit...or is it something far more sinister?

I liked this movie a lot. Ingrid Bergman and Charles Boyet were amazing. Bergman portrays her character's emotions to the point that you feel the same way she does. And Boyet is pure evil in this one. Many times watching this, I was thinking, "He is so terrible to her!" It was so psychological, how everything eveloped. The best scene in the whole movie took place at the reception, when Gregory tells Paula he lost his watch, and then finds it in her purse. Then she bursts into tears, and it was so absolutely amazing how the scene was pulled off. In fact, it was so subtle it was scary. You wouldn't expect a missing watch found in her purse to be such a big deal, but it is such a strong scene.

The one thing I didn't like about this otherwise nearly flawless movie was the climax. It was just too dull to me, and the only part I really liked was Paula's wicked sarcasm towards Gregory while they're in the attic. She truly did deserve the Best Actress Oscar for her acting, but nothing could mask the fact that the climax was just too weak. If it had a bit of a touchup, this movie would be perfect.

All in all, I recommend this without hesitation. It is absolutely amazing, and I could watch it again and still enjoy it, and that is quite rare for me. So, I recommend you find this wherever you can and give it a chance. It's a classic.
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A Well-Crafted, Well-Acted Thriller
Snow Leopard1 December 2004
This American-made version of the English thriller "Gaslight" is well-crafted and well-acted, with many moments of good suspense and tension.

Ingrid Bergman and Charles Boyer work very well in the two leads, and they get considerable help from the rest of the cast and the production.

The character of the fragile, self-doubting Paula is an ideal role for Bergman, who conveys Paula's anxious uncertainty while keeping her sympathetic and even engaging. Boyer likewise comes across very believably as her calculating husband, and the two leads make their characters into a strong foundation for the tense story.

Joseph Cotten does not really seem as if he could be a Scotland Yard detective, but in a more general way, he succeeds pretty well as a sympathetic policeman who wants to help personally while striving to get at the facts of the matter. A very young Angela Lansbury gives her character some pointed moments, and she becomes a useful part of creating the right atmosphere.

The story does, of course, have some less plausible elements, but it is written carefully enough that the seams rarely show. In fact, it seems to have been constructed rather carefully, so as to provide subtle hints that can be made use of later on. It all makes for a satisfying drama that also provides a pretty good showcase for its stars.
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Psychological terror distilled and made utterly palpable
secondtake13 April 2010
Gaslight (1944)

This is an uncharacteristic film for George Cukor, slipping sideways into Hitchcock turf for this period. Psychological suspense was never more focused, and less distracted, than you'll find in Gaslight however. You might find the plot too linear, to predictable overall, to be blown away, but in fact that's partly why the suspense works. As with great Hitchcock, you have a sense of where you going, and you want to stop it.

So we have Charles Boyer, smarmy, deceptive, and ultimately evil, leading his new wife down a path of mental anguish and, he hopes, madness. The wife is played with usual high stakes perfection by Ingrid Bergman (between her stunning roles in Casablanca and Spellbound). Cukor gets the most of her excesses, and her nuances. Boyer is more nuance, and is a perfect match. The movie is really about their back and forth, with Joseph Cotten making his appearance as a necessary line of safety and hope because we can't stand to see the woman go down without a fight.

Most of the film occurs in an old, lavishly decorated house, and the lights and camera-work are dreamy, dripping in rim light and shadow, in odd angles and closeups of their faces. It's quite an involving experience, and because you are limited to mostly these two characters, you get very intimate with them. Yes, the two maids are perfect, including a sassy Angela Lansbury in her first movie role. And the cop, too, is a classic bobby, handsome and cooperative.

The plot, alas, is the one weakness here. The man's obsession with gems is fair enough, but when we finally get to the attic, after many months of him being there searching for them, it's as if he's up there for the first time, opening drawers with cobwebs on them, scattering through drawers like a thief with five minutes and no more. It just undermines the whole premise of a man resolutely devoting his whole devious, murderous life to this one goal.

So forget the plot, exactly. It's a MacGuffin. The real movie is in the acting, the characters in their personal wringings out, and in how beautifully it is done.
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Solidly-written ground-breaking psychological mystery; it's Bergman's show
silverscreen88824 July 2007
"Gaslight" (1944) was in its time first a play by Patrick Hamilton and next a psychological thriller of great influence. Since the work was directed by George Cukor, one expects fine performances, and the film delivers several of these; it is in fact unusually well-done in many respects in my judgment. The screenplay by John Van Druten, Walter Reisch and John Balderston has also been widely admired for retaining the theatrical tension of the original work. As produced by Arthur Hornblow Jr., this intelligent but somewhat unsettling drama features understated music by Bronislau Kaper, the fine cinematography of Joseph Ruttenberg, art direction by the great Cedric Gibbons, unusually good set decorations by Edwin B. Willis and costumes design by Irene (Sharaff). But because of the understatement of its scenes, the lack of large scenes of action and image, and the sheer amount of its meaningful dialog, it is an actor's film. The minor players such as Dame May Witty as the heroine's neighbor, Tom Stevenson as Wlliams the policeman, Angela Lansbury as the saucy aid, Barbar Everest as the faithful maid Elizabeth, Emil Rmeau as the maestro, Heather Thatcher as Lady Dalroy, Halliwell Hobbes and Edmund Breon and Lawrence Grossman range in ability from good to exceptional. As the policeman who discerns what is going on that troubles the heroine, played by Ingrid Bergman, Joseph Cotten is dashing, attractive and acceptable as both potential lover and man of action. Charles Boyer has in this film a thankless role, that of a devouring immoralist who has only two possible moods-- brief burst of anger needing to be controlled and an exuded charm that must be slightly overdone at times. These moods he plays very professionally at all points, his timing being not the least of his accomplishments during the film. In the difficult role of a Victorian young woman of intelligence, honesty and vulnerability, Oscar winner Ingrid Bergman earns the award by sustaining a sunny and intelligent personality undergoing a series of slowly-revealed and subtle attacks from her husband, who is trying to convince her she is incapable of independent function. Everything in the film--lighting, use of flights of stairs, objects, blocking, gestures, observers, character and dialog contribute to the overall effect. Even the title, referring to the mysterious changes in the lighting of the house Bergman and Boyer inhabit has meaning here. The film is not a sunny one; but the suspense is in my opinion rather admirably sustained. In tribute to its quality as a drama, I can only say that in the more than six decades since the film was created, no imitation of its male to female menace has come close to achieving anything really approaching its sterling qualities. To have ushered in a sub-genre--the Victorian menaced-female type, and set so high a mark is no small feat. The mystery's solid construction and simplicity of design certainly play a part in the building of its sustained fascination.
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A great film!
zetes17 October 2002
Ingrid Bergman experiences the murder of the aunt who has raised her. Ten years later, she returns to the house in which it happened with her new husband (Charles Boyer). Something is wrong, though, as her husband, once so kind to her, grows cold and cruel. Furthermore, Bergman begins to lose things, misplace things, and develop a case of kleptomania, or at least that's her husband's explanation. Boyer convinces his wife that she is going insane, that she is sick, and she becomes little more than a shut-in. She becomes paranoid, especially at her maids (the younger of which is played by Angela Lansbury in her first film role). Meanwhile, Joseph Cotten, a detective, gets an inkling that something is up in that household, and that it might be related to the aunt's murder. Gaslight is a very atmospheric film. The black and white cinematography is full of shadows, and there are interesting things going on in the focus. The music is also quite excellent, and very original. Classical music is also used to great effect. The plot is great, although maybe a tiny bit predictable (it didn't harm my enjoyment of the film whatsoever). The performances are top-notch, although Cotten doesn't add much to the picture. I mean, he's good, but his role perhaps isn't the one the original playwright or the screenwriters were most interested in. Anyone probably could have done just as well. Bergman's performances is to be counted amongst her best. Charles Boyer, an actor with whom I am unfamiliar, is so wicked in the film. You hate him, but you've got to admit it's an effective performance! And I can't finish without praising Angela Lansbury. Dame May Whitty also has a nice supporting role, although the role - the comic relief - is sometimes used at a bad time. I don't think, for instance, she should have come back in during the final sequence. Anyway, little flaws don't detract much from this masterpiece. Bravo, Mr. Cukor! 10/10.
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Foggy nights in London's Thornton Square
jotix10022 May 2005
Patrick Hamilton's "Angel Street", an American stage classic, was turned into "Gaslight" in 1944. This atmospheric account about a woman being driven out of her mind, was directed by George Cukor. The film has always been a favorite of classic movie fans all over the world because it holds the viewer interested in watching the psychological drama with echoes of Gothic overtones, unfold on the screen.

This was not the first adaptation of Mr. Hamilton's play, although in our humble opinion, it is much better than the previous account, in part helped by the great cast that Mr. Cukor assembled to portray these characters. Thanks to the magnificent black and white cinematography by Joseph Ruttengerg and the musical score by Bronislau Kaper, the film ultimately rewards the viewer.

We are taken to No. 9 Thornton Square, at the start of the film. A murder of a famous opera singer has been committed. We watch as a young woman is taken away. Paula, is being sent away to Italy to recuperate from the tragedy she has just witnessed. The idea was for her to follow her aunt, the murdered diva's footsteps, but just listening to the young woman sing, one realizes opera is not going to gain a new star.

The young pianist, Greorgy Anton, who is seen at Maestro Gardi's home, seems to be in love with Paula; she, in turn, has fallen in love with this much older figure. They prepare to return to London and live in the house at Thornton Square. Paula, alas, is not too happy because of her traumatic experience there. Little by little we watch as Gregory, now in charge of the household, begins to terrorize his wife. The key seems to be hidden in the attic where all the things that belonged to the late diva has been stored.

A young man living near the Antons, Brian Cameron, takes an interest in what he sees is definitively wrong with the woman at No. 9, and takes things into his own hands. It's through this man's intervention that Paula is able to see all that has been inflicted upon her. Whatever Gregory has done, succeeded in giving Paula a deep sense of insecurity and fear.

Ingrid Bergman, who makes a magnificent Paula, was born to play this troubled woman. She is seen as a young girl at the beginning of the film, then as a blossoming beautiful woman and at the end she is transformed into a person afraid of her own shadow. One look into Ms. Bergman's eyes and we know what's going on in her mind. She conveys all the emotions convincingly. There's not a thing wrong with her performance.

Charles Boyer also makes a great Gregory Anton, a man who is duplicitous and sly, with a hidden agenda to get whatever he can out of poor Paula. Gregory is an evil man who will go to great lengths to get what he wants. Gregory Anton offered the actor one of his best characters. His chemistry with Ms. Bergman is wonderful.

The other supporting characters are well performed, especially by a young and interesting Angela Lansbury, who plays the parlor maid, Nancy. Joseph Cotten, on the other hand, seems to be out of character as Brian Cameron. His American accent ruins his appearance and we don't believe in him. Dame May Witty is about the sunniest one in this film.

"Gaslight" is an excellent way to spend the time in the company of Ingrid Bergman and Charles Boyer, thanks to the detailed production directed by George Cukor.
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A good suspense film that could have been great.
Daniel R. Baker19 August 1999
Ingrid Bergman plays Paula, an orphaned Victorian-era Londoner whose opera-singer aunt is murdered at the beginning of the movie. She moves to Italy to follow in her aunt's footsteps as a diva, but falls in love and returns to London with her new husband (Boyer) to live in her aunt's empty house. There, she becomes the victim of a carefully-orchestrated campaign to drive her insane.

GASLIGHT is richly atmospheric, mostly well-acted, and beautifully photographed. There are chills aplenty as seemingly innocent people grow progressively creepier, and the movie is well-paced with each successive scene increasing Paula's terror. The climax is tense and has a certain poetic justice to it.

The chief flaw in the movie is that we are clearly shown from the beginning that Paula is the victim of a third party and is not insane. Thus we cannot share the doubts and terror that she feels. We are not, like her, wondering if we can trust our senses, but merely wondering who is doing this to her. And the latter question isn't very challenging to answer. With a little more subtlety, Cukor could have left us as much in the dark as Paula about why she is experiencing so many strange phenomena, and made this effective little film into a true masterwork of suspense. As it is, GASLIGHT is good, but fails to achieve its potential to match such classics as REBECCA or VERTIGO.

Bergman and Boyer make a very dynamic on-screen duo. The film does suffer from Joseph Cotten, whose apple-pie American accent makes for a very unconvincing Scotland Yard inspector. Angela Lansbury is delightfully saucy in her film debut as a Cockney maidservant. Dame May Whitty provides effective comic relief.

GASLIGHT is well worth a rental at any price, so long as your expectations aren't overly high.

Rating: *** (out of ****).
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Lacks mystery and intrigue - quite predictable
grantss10 September 2015
Lacks mystery and intrigue - quite predictable.

A young woman, Paula Alquist (played by Ingrid Bergman) leaves her home in England for Italy, for singing lessons. There she meets and falls in love with a pianist, Gregory Anton (played by Charles Boyer). They marry and move back to London, to live in the house Paula's aunt was murdered in, 10 years earlier. However, Gregory's intentions toward Paula aren't entirely romantic, or benevolent...

For a movie with such sinister plots involved, this movie is quite predictable. You can see all the links and plans involving Gregory in the first 40 minutes or so. And some of his plans are just plain lame (the watch at the concert...).

Good performances from Bergman and Boyer plus Joseph Cotten and Dame May Witty. 18-year old Angela Lansbury made her debut in this movie and puts in a solid performance.

The minor performances can be quite laughable though - the risk of filming an English setting in the US (and you can thank WW2 for that). Best example of this is the scene with a cop whose accent frequently veers violently between English Cockney and southern-US in mid-sentence! Unintentionally funny.

Ultimately a mediocre story, with some solid performances from the leads. Had heaps of potential, but much of this was squandered.
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Interesting classic but it's hard to suspend disbelief
Bob Pr.11 June 2004
This 1944 movie is obviously a classic and to mention "Gaslight" is to refer to one spouse who tries to drive the other insane.

The storyline is based on a 1940 British movie of the same name which was based on a British play of the 1930s. That's an important factor because the psychological/psychiatric sophistication of expert treatment personnel in that era -- or the general public's sophistication -- was pretty primitive. That makes the story plausible for THAT time; it's far less so for many of us now. People in those years did not understand where madness comes from. This movie suggests that it's easy for one person to quite deliberately drive another person mad.

I'm a retired clinical psychologist with 40 years of practice, 10 of them in state hospitals and then, for 30 years, some of my outpatient clients had been hospitalized.

It's NOT that one person could not shake the grasp on reality of another. BUT, in order to do so as in this story, the victim would have to obviously be already very shaky from the start and lacking even a moderately fair sureness of her grasp of reality. Not the type of character Bergman plays at the beginning.

That said, Boyer plays an excellent cad; Bergman plays an increasingly distraught and troubled bride; Cotten plays a handsome savior; while Lansbury plays a spicy, uppity maid. Given this script, they've given it their best and their best is very, very good.

In 1944, I doubt that the script was that predictable. Sixty years later, you can see clues dropped here and there which you absolutely know will resurface later.

My quibbles are too harsh for many. My companion (almost half my age and certainly without the psychological experience) thought it was excellent -- compelling and gripping. My occasional whispers to her that I bet that THAT clue is going to reappear didn't spoil it for her one bit.
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Entering our English Lexicon
bkoganbing6 March 2006
Warning: Spoilers
It is not often that a proper name or title enters the common use of any language, but maybe the highest possible praise Gaslight could receive is the fact that the title is now a verb. To gaslight someone now is to do little deliberate things and blame articles disappearing or misplaced on a person in an effort to make them think they are losing their minds.

That is exactly what the suave sophisticated continental Charles Boyer is trying to do to his new bride Ingrid Bergman in the house that they live in. It was previously occupied by Bergman's aunt, a noted soprano who was murdered several years earlier.

A good mad act is always guaranteed to draw Oscar attention and in this case it got Ingrid Bergman her first Academy Award. She is really something to watch as the poor woman really starts to believe she's losing her mind.

Charles Boyer goes against type in this film. Usually the charming European of many nationalities besides his native French, Boyer starts out the film in a typical Boyer mold. But he gradually changes into a hardened stone cold killer. The audience ever so gradually realizes he didn't marry Bergman for love. Boyer was also nominated for a Best Actor Oscar, but no one was beating Bing Crosby that year in Going My Way.

Joseph Cotten plays the stalwart Scotland Yard inspector and a very young Angela Lansbury has an early part in Gaslight as a tart cockney maid.

George Cukor directs it all with a Hitchcock type flair that even the master of suspense would tip his hat to. In fact I'm surprised that Alfred Hitchcock didn't consider Gaslight as a film property for himself.
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A frightened Ingrid....
Jem Odewahn10 April 2008
Warning: Spoilers
Cukor's GASLIGHT is a classic of the Gothic melodrama genre, which hit it's apex in the early-to-mid forties, starting with Hitchcock's REBECCA. Bergman won a Best Actress Oscar for her role in GASLIGHT, and she is indeed convincing as a wife terrified she is losing her sanity, in the face of the tricks of her cunning and opportune jewel-thief husband Charles Boyer (remarkably sinister yet attractive).

It's an engrossing work for the most part, with great performances by the two leads. Joseph Cotten plays the romantic rescuer of Bergman, and even if it is only a one-note role, he is still pleasing. We also get great supporting work from the likes of the inimitable Dame May Witty and saucy servant Angela Lansbury (they add a touch of English that would have been missing otherwise in this story set in the Londin fog). I did feel, however, that the film dragged in a few places and the ending was just a little too cute. Nevertheless, the atmosphere Cukor creates is very convincing, and the cinematography is appropriately shadowy and dark. The house, presumably created on the studio lot specially for the film, is a marvelous set, conveying the wealth yet emotional emptiness of Bergman's life, and meticulously decorated so it appears as a true evocation of the Victorian era.
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Fantastic film-definitely worth a watch!
uncleegbert13 November 2007
I have to say, I really enjoyed this film, more than I thought I would. It lives up to all of the Hitchcock's and despite the fact that we know that Bergman's character is not insane, the film depicts a woman's suffering from her Husband. I think this film is especially relevant today as it portrays how the woman was bullied by her Husband though does not realise it because of the role of men and women at the time. The film mixes suspense, romance and horror to create a well designed film. The lighting is incredibly atmospheric and shadows help to create that typical thriller tension. You can see that people probably thought this film was scary in its day!

Fantastic film-definitely worth a watch!
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The Thornton Square Murder of c 1879?
theowinthrop11 March 2006
Warning: Spoilers
It's fun, at times, to be a criminal historian, and look at old movies to see how they fit a pattern for their time period. GASLIGHT was based on ANGEL STREET, a play by Patrick Hamilton. Hamilton was one of the best "thinking man's" creators of melodramas of the period between the World Wars.

He constructed the play ROPE (the basis for Hitchcock's 1949 movie) on the Leopold-Loeb Case, with two self-impressed intellectual "supermen" testing out their interpretation of Nietzsche's philosophy on their "friends and acquaintances". The only difference between that play and the movie was that the play was set in England, making the relationship between Jimmy Stewart's teacher/mentor and Farley Granger and John Dall (with it's overtones of homosexuality) somewhat more likely - especially as Hamilton based Stewart's character on Oscar Wilde.

Hamilton's ANGEL STREET was set two generations before ROPE, in the "gaslight" era of the 1870s and 1880s in Great Britain. It was a period of hide-bound propriety that has rarely ever reappeared in the western world, particularly after both World Wars. That propriety seems stifling - as stifling as the attempts by the villain (Charles Boyer) to control and dominate the soul of his loving wife (Ingrid Bergman). And to top it off his method is to suggest his wife's lack of control of her mind - insanity is so full of impropriety you know!

Lest one think that Boyer's Gregory Anton is a bit of dramatic license, compare him with some of the males who pop up in actual Victorian murders of the period from 1850 to 1889. Look at the film MADELEINE, at the performance of Leslie Banks as Mr. Smith, the architect and father of Madeleine Smith - a tyrannical head of the family who never forgives her transgressions with Pierre (her poisoned lover). Actually it is the extra-marital sex more than anything else that he detests: we last see him rejecting her by hissing out, "You are naked!". Or look at Raymond Huntley as the "Charles Bravo" based husband/barrister in SO EVIL MY LOVE, who refuses to admit his inability to have children is his fault (his mother agrees with him) - they blame his wife (Geraldine Fitzgerald). In the actual case, by the way, Charles was put off by his wife Florence Bravo's refusal to turn over to him her personal fortune. Also look at the case of James and Florence Maybrick, a stern, older husband who had a younger, livelier wife (and an American one at that) who just could not fit in. James appears to have had many sexual escapades Florence had to swallow. But when she strayed with Alfred Brierly, James gave her a black eye!

So Boyer's Gregory is acting precisely as so many other Victorian hubbies did in these domestic crimes. His personal greed, tied to his foreign background, is also similar to Victorian villains. For example, Henri Pineux (a.k.a. Henri De Tourville), an ex-waiter who pretended to be a French count, and married and murdered two women for their fortunes.

But even the atmosphere of the unsolved murder named for the location it occurred in. Nineteenth Century Britain was loaded with them: the Euston Square Murder, the Burton Crescent Murders, the Whitechapel Murders, the Rainhill Murders, the Stepney Murder. The list was endless, so why not a fictitious one like the Thornton Square Murder?

George Cukor has to be credited with capturing the spirit of the period very nicely in the film. From the start, when we hear "The Last Rose of Summer" being sung by a woman (a reminder of the murdered woman: Ingrid Bergman's aunt - an opera singer), to the end. The gaslight of the title may be a plot twist (that the gas goes down when Gregory secretly returns to the house's attic to search for the fortune he desires), but it was, as I said earlier, a "gaslight" age.

There is even an example of the incipient end of the period in the attitude of the insolent snippy Angela Lansbury towards Bergman (whom she considers a madwoman, to be despised). Lansbury's servant probably really mirrored many of the age who thought they were better than their "betters". Soon they were able to slack off the social controls a bit. Flanders Fields was a great leveling ground in many ways.

Boyer's Gregory is one of the most sinister villains in film, being plausible for so long, until Joseph Cotton starts taking an interest. Cotton is fine as the Scotland Yard Detective who has a personal interest in the welfare of Bergman. And Bergman's performance as a woman who is driven to the point of insanity (and uses this marvelously against her persecutor at the end of the film) is great - and thoroughly deserving of her first Oscar.
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"If I were not mad, I could have helped you."
elvircorhodzic4 July 2016
GASLIGHT characterized by a great atmosphere, set design and costumes. The film is a good combination of classic paranoid drama and detective stories. Restless atmosphere brings some very exciting and disturbing sequences. The fragile and distraught women versus dominant and wicked husband are the right combination for a good melodrama.

Despite the gloomy atmosphere, it is exciting to see how the two main protagonists go crazy in their own ways. One character (Boyer) is full of hypnotic malice and impatience, while another character (Bergman) drowning in pain, weakness and lack of self-confidence. Maybe for my taste too dramatically and inconsistent, but I share conclusion that their performance is good.

The strongest argument of this film is the concept of confinement. The level of horror, frustration, claustrophobia, fear, confusion is quite low. The story is confusing and undeveloped. The peak is more or less expected. Confrontation at the end is pretty good.
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A Good Psychological Thriller
Rainey Dawn12 May 2016
This drama turned out to be a really good Gothic psychological thriller. It's worthwhile watching if you like these kinds of films.

In short: It's about a man who murdered an opera singer over the rubies she is said to own, he searches for them but doesn't find them. Years later Gregory meets Paula, the niece of the woman he killed years ago, and she accidentally uncovers his real identity so he decides to drive her mad to have her locked away while looking for her aunt's rubies. Paula is just lucky that a snoop is interested in what goes on in number 12.

The film is pretty dramatic, starts slow while it takes time for the tension to build. It's beautifully filmed, well acted out and a story of madness, murder and crime.

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" Look Who's Moved Into Number 9 Thornton Square "
PamelaShort14 October 2013
Warning: Spoilers
In my review of the 1940 film version of Gaslight, I admitted to liking both films. The basic plot line is the same, with the 1944 version lingering a little longer, and paying more attention to the lush Victorian sets, which helps to adequately add to the foreboding mood of the story. It also has changed the characters names. Charles Boyer plays Gregory Anton, the sinisterly cruel husband and Ingrid Bergman plays Paula Alquist, the sweet loving wife, subjected to her husbands menacing attempt to drive her insane. The supporting cast actors have a much stronger presence in the 1944 version. Joesph Cotten plays the sleuthing detective Brian Cameron, Angela Lansbury plays the cheeky maid Nancy and the added character of a nosey neighbour played effectively by Dame May Witty. Ingrid Bergman's strong dramatic performance remains very riveting and is the hallmark of this film. Charles Boyer's characterization of Gregory is a little more suave and not quite as malevolent as Anton Walbrook's gripping portrayal of the abusing husband in the 1940 version. The 1944 production of Gaslight is a very entertaining film, and still holds up well. If you can, try to view both versions of this suspenseful story.
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Victorian London setting makes for chilly atmosphere...
Neil Doyle11 May 2001
The only bright note in 'Gaslight' is whenever Dame May Whitty pops in for a scene or two as a gossipy old lady who knows about that mysterious old house. Otherwise, this is an absorbing psychological thriller that takes itself a little too seriously--a few more touches of dry humor (the kind Alfred Hitchcock would have supplied) are missing from this George Cukor production. His meticulous, somewhat fussy attention to every little detail of sets and costumes softens the suspense.

Based on a stage play called "Angel Street", it shows its stage origins with mostly interior scenes of Bergman slowly being driven mad by a husband who is searching for jewels in the attic. Charles Boyer is debonair and smooth enough as the husband. His final confrontation scene with Bergman, where she decides to torment him and string him along to exact her own revenge, is highly satisfactory. Bergman really shows complete understanding of her character and deserved her Oscar for Best Actress. Angela Lansbury makes an auspicious film debut, looking very confident indeed as a saucy Cockney maid.

The only flaws are the slow pace and the casting of Joseph Cotten as the Scotland Yard detective. Cotten's role is just a peripheral one and too bland to sustain any interest. Nor does he even attempt a British accent. For Bergman fans, this is definitely a must see!

Given this sort of material, I can't help thinking it would have been a tighter and more suspenseful film if directed by someone like Alfred Hitchcock.
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Not Fun To Watch
ccthemovieman-15 November 2005
Despite the great cast which also afforded me another opportunity to admire Ingrid Bergman's beauty, this movie wasn't nearly as appealing as I had hoped. That was because of the downer of a story.

I did not find it fun to watch an innocent woman being mentally tortured for an hour, being accused of things she didn't do and slowly being driven insane. Charles Boyer is effective as the vile husband. Bergman looks best in the beginning of he film with her hair down and smiling a lot. After that, it's the opposite. The last part of the movie, when Cotten starts to investigate, is very good and saves the film somewhat. My only question - concerning the story - is why the maids aren't found guilty of conspiring with Boyer since it appears they do so, especially in Angela Lansbury's case.

Overall, too depressing to watch more than once. Too many viewings of this and you'll want to take the gas pipe, not the gaslight.
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Good version, but the earlier one is a bit better
nickandrew9 September 2003
Classic, eerie Victorian Era drama of a young woman (Bergman) marrying wicked Boyer, who is trying to convince her that she is going insane. Glossy and well-acted production has lost some of the original thrill over the years. Bergman won the Best Actress Oscar; Lansbury's film debut. Remake of a 1940 British film.
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Predictable now but it still works
preppy-324 July 2003
Charles Boyer is slowly driving wife Ingrid Bergman mad in Victorian England. There is a reason but I won't give it away.

The story line has been done to death since 1944, so this isn't as fresh or exciting as it once was. Still it is an excellent film.

The film is incredibly elaborate--wonderful costumes, huge intricately designed sets and furnishings. Also the film is wonderfully directed by George Cukor with excellent use of light, shadow and darkness to give us insights to the characters and their emotions. It also contains some truly frightening scenes with Bergman doubting her sanity and the strange noises from the attic...

The acting is just incredible. Charles Boyer is perfect as the husband--he acts so cultured and suave but you always see hints of madness and murder peeking out--very scary. Ingrid Bergman deservedly won as Oscar for this role and she's just great. You see her change from a happy, carefree girl into a frightened, cowering woman from the psychological browbeating from Boyer. She's totally believable every step of the way. Also in this movie is Elsa Lancaster in her film debut. She was only 17 at the time but you wouldn't know it! She plays a sullen servant and was just great...and nominated for Best Supporting Actress. Even the usually wooden Joseph Cotten puts in a fine performance! Basically this is a rarity--a film where ALL the casting is on target!

Superb psychological drama--don't miss this one!

There is a 1940 British version (which is better than this) that MGM purportedly tried to destroy so it wouldn't overshadow their version!
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Dastardly deeds
Prismark1022 April 2016
Gaslight is regarded as a classic but now feels dated as a heavy handed melodrama set in Victorian London. It is shot in close ups and foggy streets as the film was made in California.

Charles Boyer marries Ingrid Bergman in Italy and they return to her London home, long been abandoned since her aunt, a world famous Opera singer was killed. However soon Boyer is domineering even trying to drive Bergman mad. At night while Boyer leaves her, she hears noises in the attic. Only Joseph Cotton who is hanging around with an elderly neighbour could come to her aid.

As the film goes on Bergman's docility easily gets irritating but her desperation will certainly get you to hate the dastardly Boyer who we realise has ulterior motives in marrying Bergman and moving to London.

The film does look quaint now and has not aged well. The contrived showdown between Bergman and Boyer at the end looks silly. Still it is a worthwhile Hitchcock type thriller to view.
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Tense, Claustrophobic & Sinister
seymourblack-123 December 2014
Warning: Spoilers
An often fog-bound mansion in Victorian London is the setting for this tense psychological thriller which begins during the aftermath of a murder and develops into a husband's sustained plot to convince his wife (and everyone else) that she's insane. The villain's diabolical scheme is cruel, manipulative and interesting to watch as it shows how the victim's confidence is gradually undermined by a series of deceptions and the type of controlling behaviour that leaves her isolated, confused and genuinely doubting her own sanity.

The action takes place in an increasingly sinister atmosphere and the mansion provides a wonderfully claustrophobic location for most of what transpires. The property's cluttered walls and over-furnished rooms make the victim's surroundings seem cramped and camera angles that bring the ceiling into view re-emphasise this impression. Furthermore, the streets around the mansion are mostly seen at night when the darkness and the fog considerably reduce what can be seen. These visual features contribute strongly to the mood of the piece and also emphasise the victim's strong feelings of being trapped.

Paula Alquist (Ingrid Bergman) is a girl who'd been brought up by her aunt (who was a famous opera singer) since her mother's death. After a break-in at her home during which her aunt is strangled to death, the killer escapes and the traumatised Paula is sent to Italy to recover and study to also become an opera singer. Many years later, she falls in love with her piano accompanist and after a very short courtship and a honeymoon at Lake Como, her new husband, Gregory Anton (Charles Boyer) persuades her to move back to her previous home that she'd inherited from her aunt and which had remained unoccupied since the time she'd left London.

Back at her childhood home, Gregory decides to move all her aunt's possessions up into the attic so that Paula won't be upset by their presence and then boards up the attic door. From this point onwards, he starts to make remarks about Paula's apparent forgetfulness and inclination to lose things. Her fragile confidence is then undermined further as he belittles her in front of the servants, openly flirts with the housemaid and forbids her to leave the house or receive any guests. Things then get even more troubling when she starts to hear sounds from the attic that no-one else hears and becomes alarmed by the gaslights which dim periodically for no apparent reason.

Brian Cameron (Joseph Cotten) is a Scotland Yard detective who'd been a great admirer of Paula's aunt. After seeing the opera singer's home occupied again, he takes a growing interest in what's happening there and reviews the police records relating to the unsolved murder. Eventually, after some difficulties, he manages to meet Paula and win her confidence and this proves to be a turning point in her struggle to rationalise what had been happening to her since her return to No 9 Thornton Square.

"Gaslight" is well directed and features some top class performances. Angela Lansbury (in her first movie role) is terrific as the bad mannered and disrespectful maid and Charles Boyer is equally convincing, initially as the debonair and very attentive lover and later as the domineering sadist who tries to get his wife committed to an insane asylum. Ingrid Bergman really stands out in her Oscar-winning role as a woman who'd experienced the childhood traumas of being orphaned at a young age and later having to cope with the shock of her guardian's very sudden and violent death. Her sensitive interpretation of her character's ordeal is magnificent as she conveys her vulnerability so effectively without resorting to the exaggerated histrionics that many lesser actresses may well have employed.
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