Monday, 5 May 2014

''Gaslight'' (1944 movie)- Review

Directed by: George Cukor
Released: 1944
Country: United States

Genres: Mystery, Thriller, Drama

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

Rating: 4 out of 5


George Cukor's ''Gaslight'' has a great atmosphere; there is suspense, there are puzzles, and most mentionably, there is the wonderful performance by Ingrid Bergman. ''Gaslight'' isn't one of the best mystery films I have seen, but it is a wonderful film, a wonderful, atmospheric film, an entertaining film that I'd highly recommend.

After the mysterious murder of her aunt in her residence at Thornton Square, young Paula (Ingrid Bergman) is sent to a man who will teach her opera music. Years pass, Paula has now grown up, and her teacher starts noticing that she is not paying much attention to music. He correctly guesses that Paula is in love. She is in love with Gregor Anton (Charles Boyer), and they plan to get married. Gregor desires to live in one of the ''squares in London'' after their marriage, and Paula then tells him that they can live in such a square, as her aunt had left her a house in the square. Paula never returned to that house after her aunt's death, being afraid of the memories in that house. Anyway, after their marriage, they move to the house, and Gregor persuades her to move all her aunt's furniture to the attic, so that they can live in the present, not in the past. The first few days of their marriage seem to be perfectly happy, but then... Gregor tells Paula that she has started getting ''forgetful'' and ''absent-minded'', that she has started losing small things, and that she has started forgetting facts. With the passage of time, these things get more intense, and Paula starts worrying about herself. Gregor, on the other hand, doesn't let anybody meet Paula, he doesn't let anybody to visit them, and he doesn't want to attend any invitations or parties, and it seems like he is keeping Paula a prisoner. At night, Paula can hear strange footsteps, and the gaslights turn off, and she starts wondering if she is okay, if this house is okay; she starts fearing about the house, she starts fearing herself. What is going on?

There are several other characters as well. There is Brian Cameron (Joseph Cotten), a man who gets interested in the mystery of the murder of Paula's aunt, and ultimately succeeds in solving the mystery. There is Nancy (Angela Lansbury), the maidservant, a somewhat strange girl; Paula thinks that Nancy despises her, that she looks at her with very strange eyes. And there is the unforgettable Bessie Thwaites (Dame May Whitty), a neighbor, a warm woman who is extremely interested in the mysterious house where the murder had taken place so many years ago, and would like to get more acquainted with Paula.

Ingrid Bergman's performance is strong and powerful; she certainly deserved the Oscar that she won for her performance in this film. Throughout the film, her performance remains excellent: she plays a young, innocent woman deeply in love, then a woman worried about herself, worried that she is probably going mad, worried about everything going on around herself. Ingrid Bergman brings to life the pains, the sufferings, the confusions and miseries that her character is going through. Charles Boyer, as the dominating, mysterious, detestable husband gives a powerful performance as well. I really liked Joseph Cotten and I appreciated his character for the steps that he takes to solve the mystery, his firm determination and courage.

With ''Gaslight'', I have seen several films starring Dame May Whitty, and I have to say that I have taken a particular liking to this sweet, wonderful actress. She is absolutely amazing! She remains unforgettable playing such characters as the kindly-old-woman-who-has-disapperead in ''The Lady Vanishes'' and the proud aristocrat in ''Mrs Miniver'', and in ''Gaslight'', she plays the curious neighbor. Her character, Bessie, has always been interested in the house where the murder had taken place years ago, and she adds a certain amount of comic relief and warmth to the overall suspenseful and atmospheric film. She loves flower and wishes her dear daffodils and other flowers a good morning whenever she sees them. It was such an amusing, warm character! 

I loved the cinematography, and the overall atmosphere that prevailed throughout the film. Overall, it wasn't a great mystery film, and I agree that it was not entirely unpredictable, yet the atmosphere, the suspense, the performances, and the way it is presented make it a wonderful, entertaining, memorable film!

4 out of 5

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