Gaslight (1944)

Ingrid Bergman and Charles Boyer

'Gaslight' is a classic psychological mystery-thriller made in 1944, directed by George Cukor and starring Ingrid Bergman, Charles Boyer, Joseph Cotten, and Angela Lansbury in her screen debut.

The film was an adaptation of Patrick Hamilton's stage classic first performed in London in 1939. The play was also produced on Broadway in 1941 under the title "Angel Street", with stars Vincent Price and Judith Evans and ran for almost three years.

This was the second movie version of the play; the first was released in Great Britain in 1940 under the title "Murder in Thorton Square" but without the all-star cast and lavish design budget of the Hollywood version.

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The film was both critically and commercially well received and was nominated for seven Academy Awards, winning two, for Best Actress for Ingrid Bergman, and Best Art Direction (black and white) for the superb set re-creation of the Victorian London townhouse.

Unusually for a movie adapted from a stage play, the action does not appear confined and the picture doesn't betray its theatrical origins, due mainly to the brilliant script (by John Van Druten and Walter Reisch).

The expression "to gaslight" meaning "to deliberately drive someone insane", became in vogue during the 1940's as a direct result of the movie and flickering gaslight is a key symbol of the movie from the credits sequence onwards.

The plot revolves around the unsolved London murder of a rich English opera singer. After living ten years trying to forget the past, Paula (Ingrid Bergman), the niece of the dead woman, returns to the house where the murder took place, accompanied by her new husband, played by Charles Boyer.

Both Boyer, playing, against type, a purely evil character, and Bergman, give outstanding performances, ably backed up by top class acting from the eighteen year old Angela Lansbury as the maid and Joseph Cotten as the detective.

'Gaslight' is a wonderfully enjoyable film - a great script and a flawless cast, brilliantly directed by the masterly George Cukor.

Main Cast

Charles Boyer ... Gregory Anton
Ingrid Bergman ... Paula Alquist Anton
Joseph Cotten ... Brian Cameron
Dame May Whitty ... Miss Bessie Thwaites
Angela Lansbury ... Nancy Oliver
Barbara Everest ... Elizabeth Tompkins
Emil Rameau ... Maestro Guardi
Edmund Breon ... General Huddleston
Halliwell Hobbes ... Mr. Mufflin
Tom Stevenson ... PC Williams
Heather Thatcher ... Lady Mildred Dalroy
Lawrence Grossmith ... Lord Freddie Dalroy


Director ... George Cukor
Producer ... Arthur Hornblow Jr.
Screenplay ... John Van Druten, Walter Reisch, John L. Balderston
Based on ... "Gas Light" by Patrick Hamilton
Music ... Bronislaw Kaper
Cinematography ... Joseph Ruttenberg
Format ... B & W
Distributed by ... MGM
Release date ... May 4, 1944
Running time ... 114 minutes

Academy Awards

Two Wins:
Best Actress ... Ingrid Bergman
Best Art Direction (black and white) ... Cedric Gibbons, William Ferrari, Edwin B. Willis, Paul Huldschinsky
Five Unsuccessful Nominations:
Best Picture ... Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer
Best Actor ... Charles Boyer
Best Supporting Actress ... Angela Lansbury
Best Original Screenplay ... John L. Balderston, Walter Reisch, and John Van Druten
Best Cinematography (black and white) ... Joseph Ruttenberg