Gaslight (1944)

gaslight poster 1944 movie
9.0 Overall Score
Story: 9/10
A: 9/10
Visuals: 9/10

Great looking, more important now


Movie Info

Movie Name:  Gaslight

Studio:  MGM

Genre(s):  Drama/Mystery/Suspense

Release Date(s):  May 4, 1944

MPAA Rating:  Not Rated

gaslight gregory anton paula ingrid bergman charles boyer

Girl…you’re just crazy! Trust me!

Paula Alquist Anton (Ingrid Bergman) thinks she’s going mad.  Married to Gregory Anton (Charles Boyer), he tells her that she’s sick, that she’s a kleptomaniac, that she’s a liar, and that she is seeing things…and it could all be true.  Paula thinks she’s seeing the lights flicker and hearing sounds coming from the attic…but no one else seems to see it including the staff.  Brian Cameron (Joseph Cotten) suspects there is something up with the reclusive Mrs. Anton…and he intends to find out what it is.

Directed by George Cukor, Gaslight is a suspense thriller.  The film is an adaptation of the 1938 play Gas Light by Patrick Hamilton and helped coin the phrase “gaslight” and “gaslighting” to indicate a person is being told not to trust their senses.  The film received the Academy Award for Best Actress (Ingrid Bergman) and Best Art Direction-Interior Decoration—Black-and-White with nominations for Best Actor (Charles Boyer), Best Supporting Actress (Angela Lansbury), Best Writing—Screenplay, and Best Cinematography—Black-and-White.  The movie was selected by the Library of Congress for preservation in the National Film Registry in 2019.

gaslight paula anton nancy oliver maid angela lansbury ingrid bergman

No ma’am…I’m not a singing teapot

Gaslighting has become a very typical word in the last few years in regards to politics.  Both parties accuse the other party of gaslighting their followers and the American people.  It is good to go back and see the origin of the term…and it is a solid thriller.

The movie doesn’t really try to hide that Paula is being manipulated.  You know from the beginning that Bergman isn’t crazy and that Boyer is trying to drive her mad.  You know he’s the bad guy so you side with Bergman…it is like a frame-up scenario, but you also don’t know how far it will go…will thinking she’s mad make her mad?  It smartly plays with this in the last scenes.

The cast is good.  Ingrid Bergman is great at playing broken characters.  You can see her falling apart on screen and Bergman is good at emoting it.  Charles Boyer is kind of a strange leading man.  I expected a more rugged handsome and charming man in the role, but he’s pretty normal which adds another dimension…Bergman’s character could have done better.  Joseph Cotten is a decent foil for Boyer, but I wish that Bergman’s character had been allowed to save herself more.  It is also always odd to see a young Angela Lansbury who always looked the same…it also feels like her character had a bigger arc that is cut down.

gaslight paula alquist anton knife ending ingrid bergman

Do I have a knife? I don’t know…you tell me

The movie is a stylish thriller.  It has the crisp black-and-white look and fits in well with other directors like Alfred Hitchcock’s best work.  The movie has a nice noir take and the visuals help build suspense.

Gaslight is a must.  It is the type of movie that has bigger reach beyond the story.  Gaslighting is such a part of the lexicon now that the film has come back in vogue as a must see…it never really left, but the renewed interest has elevated it, the cast, and the performances…it is worth seeking out.

Author: JPRoscoe View all posts by
Follow me on Twitter/Instagram/Letterboxd @JPRoscoe76! Loves all things pop-culture especially if it has a bit of a counter-culture twist. Plays video games (basically from the start when a neighbor brought home an Atari 2600), comic loving (for almost 30 years), and a true critic of movies. Enjoys the art house but also isn't afraid to let in one or two popular movies at the same time.

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