Ten years after her aunt was murdered in their London home, a woman returns from Italy in the 1880s to resume residence with her new husband. His obsessive interest in the home rises from a ... Read allTen years after her aunt was murdered in their London home, a woman returns from Italy in the 1880s to resume residence with her new husband. His obsessive interest in the home rises from a secret that may require driving his wife insane.Ten years after her aunt was murdered in their London home, a woman returns from Italy in the 1880s to resume residence with her new husband. His obsessive interest in the home rises from a secret that may require driving his wife insane.
This was not the first adaptation of Mr. Hamilton's play, although in our humble opinion, it is much better than the previous account, in part helped by the great cast that Mr. Cukor assembled to portray these characters. Thanks to the magnificent black and white cinematography by Joseph Ruttengerg and the musical score by Bronislau Kaper, the film ultimately rewards the viewer.
We are taken to No. 9 Thornton Square, at the start of the film. A murder of a famous opera singer has been committed. We watch as a young woman is taken away. Paula, is being sent away to Italy to recuperate from the tragedy she has just witnessed. The idea was for her to follow her aunt, the murdered diva's footsteps, but just listening to the young woman sing, one realizes opera is not going to gain a new star.
The young pianist, Greorgy Anton, who is seen at Maestro Gardi's home, seems to be in love with Paula; she, in turn, has fallen in love with this much older figure. They prepare to return to London and live in the house at Thornton Square. Paula, alas, is not too happy because of her traumatic experience there. Little by little we watch as Gregory, now in charge of the household, begins to terrorize his wife. The key seems to be hidden in the attic where all the things that belonged to the late diva has been stored.
A young man living near the Antons, Brian Cameron, takes an interest in what he sees is definitively wrong with the woman at No. 9, and takes things into his own hands. It's through this man's intervention that Paula is able to see all that has been inflicted upon her. Whatever Gregory has done, succeeded in giving Paula a deep sense of insecurity and fear.
Ingrid Bergman, who makes a magnificent Paula, was born to play this troubled woman. She is seen as a young girl at the beginning of the film, then as a blossoming beautiful woman and at the end she is transformed into a person afraid of her own shadow. One look into Ms. Bergman's eyes and we know what's going on in her mind. She conveys all the emotions convincingly. There's not a thing wrong with her performance.
Charles Boyer also makes a great Gregory Anton, a man who is duplicitous and sly, with a hidden agenda to get whatever he can out of poor Paula. Gregory is an evil man who will go to great lengths to get what he wants. Gregory Anton offered the actor one of his best characters. His chemistry with Ms. Bergman is wonderful.
The other supporting characters are well performed, especially by a young and interesting Angela Lansbury, who plays the parlor maid, Nancy. Joseph Cotten, on the other hand, seems to be out of character as Brian Cameron. His American accent ruins his appearance and we don't believe in him. Dame May Witty is about the sunniest one in this film.
"Gaslight" is an excellent way to spend the time in the company of Ingrid Bergman and Charles Boyer, thanks to the detailed production directed by George Cukor.
- May 22, 2005