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GAS LIGHT (1944)

Director: George Cukor
Producer: Arthur Hornblow, Jr.
Screenplay: John Van Druten, Walter Reisch, and John L. Balderston, based on the play by Patrick Hamilton
Cinematography: Joseph Ruttenberg
Music: Bronislau Kaper

Cast: Charles Boyer, Ingrid Bergman, Joseph Cotten, Dame May Whitty, Angela Lansbury, Barbara Everest

Available on DVD
Running Length: 1:54
MPAA Classification: NR (Mature themes)
U.S. Distributor: MGM

Reviewed by Judith Fox

A lot of my favorite films these days seem to be classics. And no wonder. "Gaslight" is another fascinating film from the 1940ís. The story time is the end of the 19th Century.

Paula Alquist (Ingrid Bergman wins an award for this part) a beautiful and vulnerable young singer, throws her ambitions as a singer away to become the wife of Gregory Anton (Charles Boyer). With love and devotion she agrees to go to London and live in the house where her aunt lived years ago, and where she was murdered. Itís a present from Paulaís charming and attentive husband, Gregory. He reasons she should live there with him. He wants her to prove she has defeated any demons within her involving the murder of her aunt in the house. Paula as a child discovered her auntís body. When in doubt Paula does as her husband suggests, as she is blindly trying to please him in any way she can. After all, he is trying to help her. He loves her.

And so the story becomes ominous. Gregoryís seemingly caring concerns for his wife begin to show his cunning reason. He shows his true nature.

Gaslights in the house flicker every night and Paula blinks at them with terrified eyes. Every night Gregory goes out on mysterious ventures leaving Paula alone to battle her demons. She queries everyone in the house to receive only denials that the gaslights are blinking. The saucy maid, Nancy (a young Angela Lansbury) unintentionally helps confirm her mistress is having delusions. This idea is the plan of devious Gregory, who plants doubts in everyoneís head about his poor delicate crazy wife. The worm has turned.

A neighbor, elderly snoop (Dame Mae Whitty), keeps coming around, and nosing around, and raises the question about her new neighbors and the retirement of Paula kept indoors, due to her delicate nerves.

Slowly but surely, Gregory beats Paulaís self respect down so that she believes she is incapable and probably going insane. He does a great job and soon becomes an out and out villain and there lies the mystery. Why has he gone to all this trouble?

Scotland Yard investigator Brian Cameron (Joseph Cotton) arrives on the scene. He has always admired Paulaís aunt as a singer when he was a boy. Now he meets Paula at a party with her husband and is fascinated by her. To the point where hints and clues drive him to stalk and find out what is happening within the Victorian house where gaslights blink every night which no one else in the house ever sees. But Brian does.

Here I will stop as I believe the reader really must see this wonderful film that director, George Kukor created. All the actors are superb in my book.

Itís an important part of the history of film and I highly recommend it.

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