Saturday, October 31, 2009

Gaslight (1944)


After the death of her famous aunt, Paula (Ingrid Bergman) meets and falls in love with an older pianist, Gregory Anton (Charles Boyer). Years later the happy couple return to the aunt's London estate to take up residence. Paula's return is marked by bad memories and fears arise as she begins to wonder if she's going crazy, or if someone is trying to make her think she is.

Visiting my parents for the Halloween weekend we decided to see what was on TCM, and low and behold a good classic psychological thriller was on. Gaslight is a rather cool film, well paced, and played out, featuring a star cast that really bring it home. There's a lot of thrills and excitement to the film, though it's rather upfront with what it intends to do, and as such the thrills lie not in the mystery but in their execution. It was fun for me and my mom to try and figure out why Gregory was the way he was, and if Paula is ever going to figure out what's happening, or will she become lost in this nightmare of a life.

Ingrid Bergman delivers one heck of a performance, and there's no questioning why she won her first oscar that year, but as a performance piece Gaslight has a lot more to offer. The movie also features Angela Lansbury in her first film role as Nancy, the floozy housemaid who is annoyed by Paula's constant troubles. As well you have Joseph Cotton as Brian, a huge fan of Paula's aunt who finds her and her husband's actions all too mysterious to reconcile. Of course Charles Boyer is pitch perfect in the role as the mysterious Anton, such a jerk at times you really begin to hate this character. Though it's really the Bergman + Boyer battles of emotion and playing off weaknesses that really hit you in the gut, taking you straight through the two hour runtime in solid fashion.

The playing off of the audience is perhaps the greatest accomplishment of Cukor and the writing crew. Each move is well planned out, and executed exactly the way it is written, bringing to life the play of the same name. Now not every move is perfect, the movie drags in a couple of scenes, and at times I think it fails to capitalize on harsh buildup, but there's no denying it's a great work of film. So if you're looking for a good psychological thriller for your viewing pleasure, Gaslight is a solid pickup.

A great thriller of a film with some dark scenes and amazing acting to really carry the film right until it's climax.

4 better thoughts:

DEZMOND said...

Ingrid looks very unusual in that first picture. I guess I'm not used to seeing her in more revealing clothes.
It's interesting that I like her, but I never liked her daughter Isabella Rossellini.

Marcy said...

I just saw this recently in film class.

I enjoyed this film as well, but by the midpoint, it became predictable. But at the same time, you still wonder, what's going to happen next?

Andrew: Encore Entertainment said...

Very glad you liked this. Definitely agree with you that Ingrid's win was a no contest. But I am biased, this is one of my favourite films.

The final scene between Boyer and Bergman is a favourite of mine.

Michele Emrath said...

This is one of the finest psychological suspense films made. The cast is perfection and the direction is as well. I'm so glad you reviewed it and rated it highly!

And I love the flickering gaslight. It is my favorite image.


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