Gaslight (1944)

( 13 )

Overview

Ingrid Bergman won her first of three Oscars for this suspense thriller, crafted with surprising tautness by normally genteel "women's picture" director George Cukor. Bergman stars as Paula Alquist, a late 19th century English singer studying music in Italy. However, Paula abandons her studies because she's fallen in love with dapper, handsome Gregory Anton Charles Boyer. The couple marries and returns to the U.K. and a home inherited by Paula from her aunt, herself a famous singer, who was mysteriously murdered ...
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Overview

Ingrid Bergman won her first of three Oscars for this suspense thriller, crafted with surprising tautness by normally genteel "women's picture" director George Cukor. Bergman stars as Paula Alquist, a late 19th century English singer studying music in Italy. However, Paula abandons her studies because she's fallen in love with dapper, handsome Gregory Anton Charles Boyer. The couple marries and returns to the U.K. and a home inherited by Paula from her aunt, herself a famous singer, who was mysteriously murdered in the house ten years before. Once they have moved in, Gregory, who is in reality a jewel thief and the murderer of Paula's aunt, launches a campaign of terror designed to drive his new bride insane. Though Paula is certain that she sees the house's gaslights dim every evening and that there are strange noises coming from the attic, Gregory convinces Paula that she's imagining things. Gregory's efforts to make Paula unstable are aided by an impertinent maid, Nancy teenager Angela Lansbury in her feature film debut. Meanwhile, a Scotland Yard inspector, Brian Cameron Joseph Cotton, becomes suspicious of Gregory and sympathetic to Paula's plight.
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Editorial Reviews

Barnes & Noble - Ed Hulse
MGM's 1944 production Gaslight -- the second and best screen version of Patrick Hamilton's memorable stage thriller Angel Street -- avoids the two fatal pitfalls that undermine period melodramas: Director George Cukor, the early master of the stage-to-screen translation, eschews clichés, anachronisms, and stylized acting while drawing marvelous performances from his leads, Charles Boyer and Ingrid Bergman. Boyer, one of the screen's most sophisticated leading men, added sadistic villainy to his histrionic bag of tricks with his portrayal of an ostensibly loving husband who attempts to drive his adoring wife insane. Why? Well, we'll only tell you that the reason involves a years-old search for valuable jewels hidden in the house they've recently purchased. Bergman won her first Academy Award for her work as the tortured spouse; her carefully modulated performance is a textbook study of gradually mounting anxiety that metastasizes into unmitigated terror. Almost as impressive is 17-year-old Angela Lansbury, who earned an Oscar nomination and a long-term MGM contract for her skillful turn as a sinister maid. An Academy Award also went to art director Cedric Gibbons for his punctilious re-creation of Victorian décor in the sets and props. Taut and suspenseful, Gaslight remains a model that has been equaled in succeeding years, but never quite surpassed.
All Movie Guide
MGM was so apprehensive about director George Cukor's decision to remake Gaslight a mere five years after its initial British production that they insisted prints of the original be destroyed. The studio needn't have worried: with three very talented stars (Ingrid Bergman, Charles Boyer and Joseph Cotten) at the peak of their popularity, 1944's Gaslight is another wonderful, must-see addition to the Cukor filmography. It is a multi-leveled, ceaselessly entertaining film that stands the test of time. Based on Patrick Hamilton's play Angel Street, the script plumbs such ripe topics as manipulation, compulsion, madness and marital relations. Bergman deservedly won an Academy Award for her role as the "insane" wife who trusts her husband, even if it means she may be going insane; she holds the story together with one of her most impressive performances. It's a difficult character to make believable, but the actress brings such a tethered vulnerability to the part that it gives the film an air of truth and sadness. Gaslight was nominated for seven Oscars -- including one for Angela Lansbury's first film role -- but Bergman's was the only victory.
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Product Details

  • Release Date: 8/2/2011
  • UPC: 883316380352
  • Original Release: 1944
  • Source: Warner Archives
  • Region Code: 0
  • Time: 1:54:00
  • Format: DVD
  • Sales rank: 3,087

Cast & Crew

Performance Credits
Charles Boyer Gregory Anton
Ingrid Bergman Paula Alquist
Joseph Cotten Brian Cameron
Dame May Whitty Miss Thwaites
Angela Lansbury Nancy Oliver
Barbara Everest Elizabeth Tompkins
Terry Moore Paula, age 14
Emil Rameau Maestro Guardi
Edmund Breon Gen. Huddleston
Halliwell Hobbes Mr. Mufflin
Tom Stevenson Williams
Heather Thatcher Lady Dalroy
Lawrence Grossmith Lord Dalroy
Jacob Gimpel Pianist
Bobby Hale Lamplighter
Joy Harrington Miss Pritchard
Harry Adams Policeman
Wilson Benge Bit part
Arnold Bennett Footman
Leila Bennett Edna Hooper
Arthur Blake Butler
Lillian Bronson Lady
Leonard Carey Guide
Alec Craig Turnkey
Maude Fealy Bit part
Al Ferguson Bit part
Helen Flint Franchette
Gibson Gowland Servant
Si Jenks Uncle Billy
Pat Malone Policeman
Edwin Maxwell Vickery
Charles McNaughton Wilkins
Clive Morgan Bit part
Elsa Prescott Bit part
Arthur Stone Durkin
Morgan Wallace Fred Garrett
Eric Wilton Valet
Eustace Wyatt Budge
Guy Zanette Bit part
George Nokes Bit part
Sid Saylor Baggage Clerk
Technical Credits
George Cukor Director
John L. Balderston Screenwriter
Jack Dawn Makeup
William Ferrari Art Director
Cedric Gibbons Art Director
Jack Greenwood Asst. Director
Arthur Hornblow Jr. Producer
Paul Huldschinsky Set Decoration/Design
Bronislau Kaper Score Composer
Marion Herwood Keyes Costumes/Costume Designer
Warren Newcombe Special Effects
Walter Reisch Screenwriter
Joseph Ruttenberg Cinematographer
Irene Sharaff Costumes/Costume Designer
John van Druten Screenwriter
Arthur Williams Editor
Edwin B. Willis Set Decoration/Design
Ralph Winters Editor
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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4.5
( 13 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star

(8)

4 Star

(3)

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Sort by: Showing all of 13 Customer Reviews
  • Posted October 1, 2010

    this is a fine old movie with wonderful actors, I'm keeping this for myself !!

    wonder why they can't make more movies like the old ones. Classy actors without using obscene language etc.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 1, 2010

    Outstanding

    Gaslight is a classic Starring Ingrid Bergman she is one of the best actors of all time. She has starred in Casa Blanca another all time classic that will never die. Her endless charm will always be.

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  • Posted October 1, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    Scary Spouse

    This was a great thriller, plenty of suspense and mystery to keep you intrigued. Darkness brings out the "demons" hidden during the daylight hours that only come up when the gaslight is turned on. Turn off all the lights, but first get your popcorn or other movie snack, sit back and get ready for the suspense attack. This movie has plenty of spills and chills to keep you watching. Ingrid Bergman was wonderful as the tortured spouse and Angela Lansbury assisted the protagonist to be believable.
    After watching this, for a few laughs you may want to watch the 1930 movie "The Cuckoos." It is the story of two tramps that become "fortune tellers" and are trying to solve a kidnapping. Bert Wheeler and Robert Woolsey were a riot, great laughs and fun entertainment.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 1, 2010

    Haunted Victorian Melodrama Marred by Shoddy Remastering

    I am going to make you believe that you are mad and then push you over the edge of sanity. With those intensions, Gregory Anton (Charles Boyer) sets out to destroy his wife, Paula's (Ingrid Bergman) mental stability in 'Gaslight'(1944). Greg's reasoning? ¿ Paula¿s dead aunt, his former lover, has hidden a fortune in jewels somewhere in the house which Paula now owns. I suppose Greg could have just sent Paula to the music hall to get her out of the way, but then the prospects for high melodrama and intense suspense wouldn¿t have been nearly as diabolical or as fun. The film opens on one of MGM¿s spooky and unsettling soundstages, gussied up to look like a typical English square. From one of the brownstones a distraught Paula is taken away, having just discovered her aunt¿s horribly mangled body inside. In a state of shock, Paula is sent to Florence where she falls in love with a piano player, Gregory Anton. The two married. Returning to London, Paula and Gregory set up housekeeping in her aunt¿s old house. However, not long afterward Paula begins to become increasingly absentminded ¿ or does she. Priceless antiques are moved, paintings are switched on the walls and a broach belonging to Gregory¿s mother vanishes without a trace. Gregory, growing increasingly impatient with Paula¿s emerging psychosis (actually he¿s upset how long its taking to drive her crazy), leaves her alone each night, presumably to go off and paint portraits (his profession). Actually, he sneaks around the back of their house, reentering from an adjacent attic into theirs to search for the aunt¿s missing jewels. The tap, tap, tapping on Paula¿s bedroom ceiling and the sudden lowering of gaslights are attributed to figments of Paula¿s growing mental instability. To create further doubt, paranoia and suspicion, Gregory hires an upstairs maid, the saucy Nancy (Angela Lansbury in an Oscar nominated role) who delights at taunting Paula with coy flirtations toward Gregory. Deception never looked so good. The melodrama is first rate and the performances will have you applauding in your seat. Joseph Cotten costars as the police investigator who does not believe that all of the mysteries inside Gregory¿s home can be attributed to Paula¿s failing mental health. The transfer is rather disappointing. Though the gray scale is very nicely balanced with black levels that are solid and contrast levels that are fully realized, nothing can eclipse the distracting shimmering effects and edge enhancement that plague many of the scenes throughout this film. Fine details uncontrollably shimmer and thoroughly distract in spots. The audio is sharp and well balanced. As part of the extras we are given the original 1940 British version of 'Gaslight' that, I must tell you, is just as compelling as MGM's remake. In comparing the two versions, MGM¿s obvious attention to ultra high gloss glamour becomes instantly obvious. So does the fact that director, George Cukor managed to create an overwhelming sense of claustrophobia in the remake that works well with the subject matter but is wholly lacking in the original. The transfer elements for the British version are much poorer than one might expect but they are by no means awful - leaving you with twice as much sinister fun on this double feature. Contrast and shadows on the British original are poorly balanced but there appears to be no aliasing, shimmering or edge enhancement employed for a far more smooth presentation. There's also a new retro-documentary on both versions that is generally compelling if all too short.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 21, 2003

    Best Thriller of All Time

    Ingrid Bergman is a favorite of mine, and absolutely shines in this 1944 thriller. Miss Bergman plays Paula Alquist, who is sent to Italy as a young girl after the famous aunt she is living with is murdered. A would-be singer who realizes she dosen't posess the talent of her late aunt, Paula forsakes her music teacher to marry the handsome, but vague Gregory Anton (Charles Boyer). They eventually marry & move into the house of her late aunt, where Gregory tries to slowly drive her insane by mind tricks and isolation. Joseph Cotton enters as Brian Cameron, a Scotland Yard detective who becomes Paula's trusted ally. Filled with lots of intrigue and suspense, this movie is a must for those who desire a pure and untainted thriller. This movie is in my top 5 all time favorites.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 2, 2003

    Victorian Chills

    George Cukor, whose name is synonymous with so-called women's movies directed this tightly knit psychological Victorian gem of a thriller. On the surface it is not a complicated premise. Young Paula Alquist, played by beautiful Ingrid Bergman is sent away Italy to finish her schooling after her famous aunt is found murdered in her home. The murderer was never found. Nor were the jewels she was rumored to have. Fast forward years later. Paula has fallen in love with charming and dashing Gregory Anton (Charles Boyer). She marries Anton and they return to her aunt's house which is now Paula's by inheritance. Paula cannot see it, but the audience sees that her husband's charm is quickly fading as he isolates her from their social circle under the guise that she is ill and cannot see anyone. He manipulates her to the point that she is fears that she is losing her mind. The viewer watches Ingrid Bergman's character change from an intelligent, secure young woman to a paranoid recluse slowly being driven mad by her husband who skillfully controls her mind. By now we have learned that it is no coincidence that Gregory Anton, met, married and convinced Paula to return to London to live in her former home. He is determined to continue his search for the jewels which was interrupted by Alice Alquist years ago. As Paula struggles with her sanity, she has no one to turn to for help until an inquisitive neighbor, Miss Thwaites (Dame May Witty) elicits help from Brian Cameron (Joseph Cotton) who happens to be a Scotland Yard detective. Cameron has his own reasons for being curious about the never seen Paula Alquist. Be sure to watch for a very young Angela Lansbury as the cute tartish young maid who has eyes for Boyer. Gaslight is one for those movies that you can again and again and still have it give you the shivers as you watch Boyer skillfully and cunningly drive his wife to the brink of insanity. But Bergman's revenge is sweet. A brilliant movie. Vannie(~.~)

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 16, 2001

    Exquisite!

    This film stars Charles Boyer as a man who tries to drive his wife (Ingrid Bergman) insane, in order to find jewels hidden in their London home. Ingrid Bergman won an academy award for her superb performance. Also stars Joseph Cotten as an investigator and Angela Lansbury as the impudent young maid. This film is strongly recommended!

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    Posted April 20, 2010

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    Posted May 7, 2010

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    Posted February 16, 2009

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    Posted August 23, 2010

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    Posted August 2, 2009

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    Posted July 9, 2010

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Sort by: Showing all of 13 Customer Reviews