Gaslight – 1940 | 88mins | Thriller | B&W
Compared to the illustrious Hollywood remake four years later starring Ingrid Bergman, this cheap British production was small beer, but the fact that MGM tried to have the negatives destroyed is a clue to how effective it is. Gripping performances tautly directed by Thorold Dickinson, and just a smothering of murky Victorian menace makes this a classic psychological thriller.
Adapted from Patrick Hamilton’s play, it has Anton Walbrook as Paul Mallen, the murderer trying to drive his wealthy wife Bella (Diane Wynyard) insane. Paul plans to carry out his plan by convincing his wife she is losing her memory and sanity, using the gaslight in her rooms to make his wife believe that this is seeing hallucinations and suffering forgetfulness. An ex-Scotland Yard detective, Rough (Frank Pettingell), meets Bella socially and becomes interested in her husbands mysterious activities when he notices Mr. Mallen’s similarity to Louis Barre – the nephew of Bella’s murdered aunt. Her husband meanwhile is desperately searching the house for a stash of rubies from his wife’s deceased aunt; this was Paul’s real reason for marrying Bella. While searching in the attic, Paul turns up the gas jets to illuminate his search, thus creating a drain on the gas outlets in his wife’s room. Rough manages to convince Bella that she is sane, and that her husband had also murdered her aunt in an attempt to steal the jewels.
Thorold Dickinson: Director
Richard Vernon: Associate Producer
Bernard Knowles: Cinematographer
Sidney Cole: Editing
Richard Addinsell: Music
Muir Mathieson: Musical Direction
John Corfield: Producer
AR Rawlinson: Script
Bridget Boland: Script
AJ Brunker: Sound Department