Tuesday, September 7, 2010
Film of the Week: Gaslight, 1944
Terrible things happened one night at 9 Thornton Square. The famed opera singer, Alice Alquist, was murdered in the sumptuous Belgravia townhouse—her body left lying on the floor in front of her portrait. Her young niece, Paula, was alone with her that night, and found her lifeless body.
This is the story behind one of the most gripping films directed by George Cukor. The 1944 version of Gaslight starred the enchanting, sensational Ingrid Bergman as Paula, Charles Boyer as Gregory, Joseph Cotten as the Scotland Yard detective who comes to Paula’s aid, Dame May Whitty as their curious neighbor, and marked the film debut of Angela Lansbury as Nancy. This film is based, in part, on Patrick Hamilton's Broadway play, Angel Street of 1941. An earlier version—quite different from Cukor’s—had been filmed in Great Britain in 1940.
Another element about this movie that I just adore is the sets. They are quintessentially Victorian and truly remarkable in every detail. I wouldn’t mind living in that house—without Charles Boyer, of course. If you want a tale of betrayal, deceit, madness, murder and jewel theft, this is the film for you. And, you’d be challenged to find a better one.
See for yourself in this clip of one of my favorite scenes. Isn't she utterly brilliant?