Gaslight, based on a play by Patrick Hamilton
A different version of this note and thoughts on other books are available at:
- https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLEVa4_CsRStSBBDo4uJWT8BSWtTTn0N1E and http://realini.blogspot.ro/
Gaslight is a first rate drama.
It is included on the New York Times’ Best 1,000 Movies Ever Made List:
It is directed by the genius George Cukor.
The man behind such classics as:
- My Fair Lady, The Philadelphia Story, Adam’s Rib and more
In the leading roles we have Ingrid Bergman, who won the Academy Award and the Golden Globe for Best Actress in a leading role.
Indeed, her portrayal of Paula Alquist is sublime.
In the other leading role we have Charles Boyer as Gregory Anton.
And he is terrific as well.
Paula Alquist is a young woman who is taking singing lessons in the first scenes of the film, with a famous professor.
Accompanying her on the piano is Gregory Anton.
In a discussion with the professor, the singer mentions the fact that she will never achieve the status of her aunt.
The older man is sure that there is something very important that is distracting his pupil, perhaps she is in love?
- Well, as soon as the singer is out the door, we see her talking and embracing the piano player and planning a trip
In the train, an English woman talks to Paula about a mysterious murder that took place right across from her house.
As the young woman is getting ever more upset, the details of the crime are revealed, as long as they are known.
But the station of her destination is here and Paula descends in Como, where she is met by the man she loves.
Gregory Anton is a very challenging role, for this is a sophisticated, educated, talented player and composer.
His manners are refined, his charm is impressive, the appearance is that of an aristocrat and he is definitely a gentleman.
Only it becomes clear that behind this attractive façade, we have a devilish individual with dark purposes in mind.
He insists that he would like to live in London, where the homeless are unhappy, but which is the best place to be for people who have a home, on a square.
Paula Alquist has the proper mansion, left as inheritance to her by the opera celebrity, her aunt who was killed right near the home of the woman in the train.
Once they are married and moved into the London home, Gregory Anton is showing his true colors, right as Paula finds a letter and he shouts that she needs to give it to him and the audience can see this is a villain.
He accuses is wife of stealing paintings, losing precious objects and imagining things like footsteps at night.
His plan is to drive the poor spouse crazy, in a sort of reverse of the Pygmalion Effect, a psychological phenomenon that has proved that if you believe strongly that someone is able to achieve success, that happens.
When he gives his wife a brooch, he then steals it to claim she is so mad she does not know what she is doing.
In a sort of climax, in the middle of a concert with a large crowd in attendance, Gregory Anton claims his watch had been stolen.
He knows this will provoke a crisis and a breakdown of his spouse, especially after he checks her purse and finds his watch there.
Brian Cameron is a detective that had been puzzled by the killing of the famous opera singer and he represents the only hope for Paula.
She is isolated in the house and her resilience is fast breaking up, faced with a continuous attack from Gregory.