In Victorian London, all the talk in one specific neighborhood is that someone has finally moved into 12 Pimilco Square, the house having sat empty for years as the previous owner, Alice Barlow, was murdered there, her valuable rubies thought to be stolen in the process, this information of which the new owners, newlyweds Paul and Bella Mallen, may or may not be aware. Bella's delicate constitution takes a turn for the worse after moving into the house, she forgetting and misplacing things, as well as being delusional in hearing noises in the closed off upper floors of the house, and seeing the lights flicker when no one else is in the house, those flickers which should only occur when other lights are turned on and off in the house in the gas to the lights being dispersed. Paul's love for her crosses that fine line into hate in dealing with Bella's worsening mental health, he isolating her in the house in not wanting to be embarrassed by her in public. Paul's harsh treatment ...Written by
From what I've been reading we're fortunate to have this film at all much less showing for rent on Amazon. Not unlike what Paramount did with Frank Capra's Broadway Bill when that studio made Riding High, MGM destroyed this original British made version of Gaslight that came out four years before MGM remade it with Charles Boyer, Ingrid Bergman and Joseph Cotten, that classic that won Ingrid Bergman her first Oscar. Fortunately MGM was not thorough and we can enjoy Diana Wynyard and Anton Walbrook in this original film version of the play Angel Street.
It might have been nice to have a version of that surviving as well. On stage Vincent Price played the suave husband who is trying to get his wife to question her sanity, he co-starred with Judith Evelyn in the Patrick Hamilton play that ran 1295 performances on Broadway from 1941 to 1944. I can see Price easily doing this part.
Of course it would be without the continental suavity of both Charles Boyer and here, Anton Walbrook. Walbrook is one both cold and cool and cruel customer as he tries to drive Wynyard out of her mind. She's at a loss to explain his change toward her. In point of fact she's accidentally discovered a clue to his real identity and he's had history with her family before. She doesn't know what she's discovered which makes her all the more frightened. Wynyard is every bit as good as Bergman in the remake.
The major change that MGM made was in the policeman's role. In fact there is some reason to speculate that Scotland Yard man Joseph Cotten may end up with Bergman in the MGM version. Here the dogged detective is British character actor Frank Pettengill who's strictly business. He recognizes Walbrook, but can't prove anything without positive identification.
Gaslight remains firmly fixed in the Victorian era it is set. Today what involved an elaborate scheme of deception by Pettengill could be remedied easily with fax and telephotos to Australia where Walbrook presumably was staying for many years.
This version of Gaslight is every bit the equal of the finely mounted MGM version and since it is closer to what author Hamilton had in mind, many consider it superior. It's pretty darn good any way you slice it.
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