Gaslight


1h 53m 1944
Gaslight

Brief Synopsis

A newlywed fears she's going mad when strange things start happening at the family mansion.

Photos & Videos

Gaslight - Behind-the-Scenes Photos
Gaslight - Movie Posters
Gaslight - Lobby Card

Film Details

Genre
Drama
Mystery
Thriller
Adaptation
Classic Hollywood
Release Date
May 1944
Premiere Information
New York opening: 4 May 1944
Production Company
Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Corp.
Distribution Company
Loew's Inc.
Country
United States
Screenplay Information
Based on the play Gas Light by Patrick Hamilton (London, 31 Jan 1939).

Technical Specs

Duration
1h 53m
Sound
Mono (Western Electric Sound System)
Color
Black and White
Theatrical Aspect Ratio
1.37 : 1
Film Length
10,229ft (12 reels)

Synopsis

After her aunt and guardian, Alice Alquist, a renowned opera singer, is strangled to death in their London home at No. 9 Thornton Square, traumatized teenager Paula Alquist moves to Italy. Ten years later, Paula confesses to her devoted voice teacher, Maestro Guardi, that she has finally put her past behind her and fallen in love. Guardi encourages Paula to follow her heart, and consequently, she accepts the proposal of Gregory Anton, a pianist whom she has known for only two weeks. During their honeymoon in Lake Como, Gregory tells Paula that he has always dreamed of living in a fashionable London square, and anxious to please her husband, Paula suggests they move to her aunt's house in Thornton Square. As soon as they are back at long-deserted No. 9, however, Paula's terrifying memories begin to resurface, so Gregory insists that all of her aunt's belongings be stored in the attic. Paula then finds a letter hidden in her aunt's sheet music, dated two days before her murder, in which the writer, Sergius Bauer, begs to see her aunt. When Paula reads Bauer's name out loud, Gregory angrily grabs the letter and silences her.

Three months later, as they are about to leave for a much-anticipated Tower of London tour, Gregory presents Paula with his great-grandmother's brooch, but cautions her not to wear it until the clasp has been fixed. Paula, who has not strayed from the house or entertained any visitors since marrying, puts the brooch in her purse, dismissing Gregory's warning that she might lose it. During the tour, however, Paula senses that the brooch is missing and becomes agitated. Then, while walking toward the Crown Jewels exhibit, Paula is greeted warmly by Brian Cameron, who had been a fan of Alice's and momentarily mistook Paula for her aunt. Gregory is immediately suspicious of Brian, even though Paula insists that she has never met him. Once back at home, a contrite Paula confesses to Gregory that she lost the brooch, and he accuses her of being forgetful. Later that night, after Gregory has left for his music studio, Paula sees the gaslights in her bedroom dim inexplicably and hears footsteps overhead. Two months later, Brian appears in Thornton Square and questions Paula's nosy neighbor, Miss Bessy Thwaites, about Paula. At that moment, Brian sees Paula standing in her front door, apparently preparing to leave. When Nancy Oliver, a saucy young maid hired by Gregory, asks Paula exactly where she is going, however, the increasingly insecure Paula retreats inside. Made suspicious by Paula's odd behavior, Brian, a Scotland Yard detective, studies the police file on Alice's unsolved murder and learns that several foreign crown jewels, which had been given secretly to Alice by a royal admirer, disappeared on the night of the murder. Convinced that Paula is in danger, Brian assigns Williams, a constable, to keep an eye on No. 9. Later, after Gregory accuses Paula of harboring an irrational mistrust of Nancy, Brian, posing as Miss Thwaites's nephew, tries to call on Paula, but is turned away on Gregory's orders. Paula is upset and confused by Gregory's manipulations, but forgives him as soon as he announces that he is taking her to the theater that night. Paula's joy is cut short, however, when Gregory accuses her of absentmindedly removing a painting from the parlor wall. Although Paula pleads her innocence, Gregory finds the painting on the staircase, where it had ended up twice before, and contends that she moved it in a thoughtless daze. Gregory then tells Paula she is too sick to go out and prepares to leave for his studio.

Revealing that she has been hearing strange noises, Paula begs Gregory not to go, but he dismisses her fears and leaves. Soon after, Paula sees the lights dim and hears the overhead footsteps. Sometime later, Brian and the Antons are invited to a piano concert at Lord and Lady Dalroy's. As the evening is about to start, however, the Dalroys receive a note from Gregory stating that Paula is too ill to attend. At home, Paula becomes upset when Gregory tells her about the note and threatens to go to the Dalroys' alone. Gregory then agrees to attend, but during the concert, he whispers to Paula that his watch is missing. Paula immediately finds it in her purse and starts to cry, disrupting the performance. Gregory and Paula return home hurriedly and, unknown to them, are followed by Brian. When Paula comments that her mental problems began with the discovery of her aunt's letter, Gregory angrily informs her that the letter never existed and that she is going insane, just as her dead mother had years before. He then tells her that he has arranged for two doctors to examine her, with the intention of committing her to an asylum, and leaves for his studio. Brian and Williams trail him as he circles around the block, but soon lose him in the fog. Inside, Paula begins to hear the footsteps and asks Elizabeth Tompkins, the cook, if she hears them too. Elizabeth is hard of hearing, however, and says no. Later, Williams reports to Brian that he saw a disheveled Gregory emerge from the mews outside his house, causing Brian to speculate that he must have gone into the deserted No. 5 and crossed the roof to No. 9.

That night, Brian waits for Gregory to depart and then pushes past Elizabeth to see Paula. While Brian talks with Paula, convincing her that she is sane, Gregory is tearing apart Alice's furniture in the attic, searching for something. Brian forces open Gregory's desk and notices that Gregory's gun is missing from its box. At the same time, Paula finds her aunt's letter, and by comparing the handwriting on the letter against Gregory's note to the Dalroys, Brian concludes that Gregory is Bauer, whom he knows was one of Alice's accompanists. Brian speculates that Gregory killed Alice for the jewels but, as he was unable to find them on the night of the murder, married Paula to gain access to the house. At that moment, Gregory, still upstairs, finally finds the jewels, which were sewn onto one of Alice's opera costumes, and tears them off. Seeing the gaslights suddenly brighten, Brian leaves the house before Gregory descends from the attic. As Gregory confronts Paula about the broken desk lock, Brian, having entered the attic through the roof, appears with the torn costume and accuses Gregory of Alice's murder. The two men begin to fight upstairs, and, when Paula hears a gunshot, she rushes to the attic and finds Gregory tied to a chair. After a distraught Paula taunts the imprisoned Gregory, he confesses his crimes, noting that the jewels had an unnatural hold over him. As they wait for the police, Brian consoles Paula and offers to visit her whenever she needs him.

Photo Collections

Gaslight - Behind-the-Scenes Photos
Here are a few behind-the-scenes photos taken during the making of Gaslight (1944), starring Ingrid Bergman and Charles Boyer.
Gaslight - Movie Posters
Here is a group of American movie Posters from Gaslight (1944), starring Ingrid Bergman, Charles Boyer, and Joseph Cotten.
Gaslight - Lobby Card
Here is a Lobby Card from Gaslight (1944). Lobby Cards were 11" x 14" posters that came in sets of 8. As the name implies, they were most often displayed in movie theater lobbies, to advertise current or coming attractions.

Videos

Movie Clip

Gaslight (1944) - You Shall Have Your Dream Vacationing at Lake Como, new husband Gregory (Charles Boyer) mentions his apparently coincidental dream of a home in London, identical to the home in which his traumatized wife Paula (Ingrid Bergman) found her murdered aunt, early in George Cukor's Gaslight, 1944.
Gaslight (1944) - Free Yourself From The Past From director George Cukor’s opening in foggy London, we jump ten years to Italy where Ingrid Bergman has matured, but is losing interest in opera, to the dismay of her devoted teacher (Emil Rameau as Maestro Guardi), and Charles Boyer appears in his first scene as a mere hired accompanist, in Gaslight, 1944.
Gaslight (1944) - I Saw Someone I Know Is Dead Touring the Tower Of London, increasingly nervous Paula (Ingrid Bergman) and spooky husband Gregory (Charles Boyer), who seems determined to convince her she's behaving erratically, bump into a guy (Joseph Cotten) who's struck by her appearance, in George Cukor's Gaslight, 1944.
Gaslight (1944) - Six Wives Buried In The Cellar Exposition cloaked in coincidence, George Cukor directing, as Paula (Ingrid Bergman) meets Miss Thwaites (Dame May Whitty), who turns out to be personally linked to her own childhood trauma, as she begins a vacation to consider whether she should marry Daniel (Charles Boyer), early in Gaslight, 1944.
Gaslight (1944) - It's An Odd Household Vignettes from director George Cukor, Ingrid Bergman as newlywed Paula, whose husband keeps suggesting she’s become unstable, with iffy maid Nancy (Angela Lansbury), then observed by neighbor Miss Thwaites (Dame May Witty), and Joseph Cotten, whose interest has not been explained, in Gaslight, 1944.
Gaslight (1944) - You Thought I Was Being Cruel! Gregory (Charles Boyer) cranking up the mind games, first surprising already shaken Paula (Ingrid Bergman) with news of big plans for the evening, then turning on her with another shaming accusation, maid Elizabeth (Barbara Everest) called as a witness, in George Cukor's Gaslight, 1944.

Trailer

Hosted Intro

Film Details

Genre
Drama
Mystery
Thriller
Adaptation
Classic Hollywood
Release Date
May 1944
Premiere Information
New York opening: 4 May 1944
Production Company
Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Corp.
Distribution Company
Loew's Inc.
Country
United States
Screenplay Information
Based on the play Gas Light by Patrick Hamilton (London, 31 Jan 1939).

Technical Specs

Duration
1h 53m
Sound
Mono (Western Electric Sound System)
Color
Black and White
Theatrical Aspect Ratio
1.37 : 1
Film Length
10,229ft (12 reels)

Award Wins

Best Actress

1944
Ingrid Bergman

Best Art Direction

1944

Award Nominations

Best Actor

1944
Charles Boyer

Best Cinematography

1944

Best Picture

1944

Best Supporting Actress

1944
Angela Lansbury

Best Writing, Screenplay

1945

Articles

The Essentials (5/21) - GASLIGHT


SYNOPSIS

Paula Alquist, a wealthy socialite, falls in love with the dashing Gregory Anton. The two marry, and after their return from a romantic Italian honeymoon, Anton insists they live in Paula's childhood home, the place where her aunt, a famous opera star, was murdered. Unknown to Paula, the murderer is still on the loose. In fact, it's her husband and he's currently devising a diabolical trap for her. Anton slowly begins to drive Paula insane in order to commit her to an asylum, leaving him in possession of her family home where her aunt's cache of priceless jewels are hidden. He moves objects in the house, convincing Paula she's misplaced them, and then plants his own possessions in hiding places in order to accuse her of stealing them. Late at night, while pretending to go out for a walk, Anton actually sneaks back into the sealed-off upper floor, sending his wife into hysterics by dimming the gas lights in the home and terrorizing her with ghostly footsteps. Yet, despite Paula's isolated existence, she manages to find an unexpected ally in Brian Cameron, a suspicious Scotland Yard detective.

Director: George Cukor
Producer: Arthur Hornblow, Jr.
Screenwriter: John L. Balderston, Walter Reisch, John Van Druten
Cinematographer: Joseph Ruttenberg
Composer: Bronislau Kaper
Editor: Arthur Williams, Ralph E. Winters
Art Director: William Ferrari, Cedric Gibbons
Costume Designer: Marion Herwood Keyes, Irene
Cast: Charles Boyer (Gregory Anton), Ingrid Bergman (Paula Alquist), Joseph Cotten (Brian Cameron), Dame May Whitty (Miss Thwaites), Angela Lansbury (Nancy Oliver).
BW-114m. Closed captioning. Descriptive video.

Why GASLIGHT is Essential

Romantic young heroines who are threatened and terrorized (or imagine themselves to be) by the man they love were a staple of films in the forties. Joan Fontaine was put through that wringer twice by Alfred Hitchcock, in Rebecca (1940) and Suspicion (1942). The treatment was also doled out to Katharine Hepburn in Undercurrent (1946), Elizabeth Taylor in Conspirator (1949), and to an overwrought, bed-ridden Barbara Stanwyck in Sorry, Wrong Number (1948). While the above films have their merits, Gaslight is easily the most effective entry in the young-wife-in-distress category. Hitchcock's Suspicion, in fact, is a bit of a cheat since the husband turns out to be completely innocent of his suspected crimes.

Based on a hit London stage melodrama, Gaslight was first put on film in 1939 with Anton Walbrook and Diana Wynyard in the leads. Some critics today prefer this nearly forgotten British version, partially because it played so effectively on the subtle cruelties of the English class system. But the 1944 MGM release remains popular and acclaimed for its mounting sense of terror, aided in no small part by the strong, moody direction of George Cukor, known for coaxing superlative performances from his actors, particularly the female cast members.

Ingrid Bergman, who had long coveted the role of the tormented wife being driven insane by her husband in Gaslight, went after the role at MGM after resident star Hedy Lamarr turned it down. Bergman almost missed her chance when Selznick initially refused to loan her to MGM unless she was given first billing over costar Charles Boyer. When Boyer refused to budge on the matter, Bergman went to Selznick in tears begging him to reconsider - which he finally did.

Gaslight won an Oscar® for Best Interior Decoration and was nominated in the categories of Best Picture, Actor (Boyer), Supporting Actress (Angela Lansbury), Screenplay and Black and White Cinematography. The film marked the movie and acting debut of Lansbury, who had been working in a Los Angeles department store before being cast as Nancy, the maid. Director George Cukor was instantly impressed by the fledgling actress's talent and professionalism, and prevailed when the studio resisted hiring her because she wasn't "sexy enough."

By Rob Nixon & Frank Miller
The Essentials (5/21) - Gaslight

The Essentials (5/21) - GASLIGHT

SYNOPSIS Paula Alquist, a wealthy socialite, falls in love with the dashing Gregory Anton. The two marry, and after their return from a romantic Italian honeymoon, Anton insists they live in Paula's childhood home, the place where her aunt, a famous opera star, was murdered. Unknown to Paula, the murderer is still on the loose. In fact, it's her husband and he's currently devising a diabolical trap for her. Anton slowly begins to drive Paula insane in order to commit her to an asylum, leaving him in possession of her family home where her aunt's cache of priceless jewels are hidden. He moves objects in the house, convincing Paula she's misplaced them, and then plants his own possessions in hiding places in order to accuse her of stealing them. Late at night, while pretending to go out for a walk, Anton actually sneaks back into the sealed-off upper floor, sending his wife into hysterics by dimming the gas lights in the home and terrorizing her with ghostly footsteps. Yet, despite Paula's isolated existence, she manages to find an unexpected ally in Brian Cameron, a suspicious Scotland Yard detective. Director: George Cukor Producer: Arthur Hornblow, Jr. Screenwriter: John L. Balderston, Walter Reisch, John Van Druten Cinematographer: Joseph Ruttenberg Composer: Bronislau Kaper Editor: Arthur Williams, Ralph E. Winters Art Director: William Ferrari, Cedric Gibbons Costume Designer: Marion Herwood Keyes, Irene Cast: Charles Boyer (Gregory Anton), Ingrid Bergman (Paula Alquist), Joseph Cotten (Brian Cameron), Dame May Whitty (Miss Thwaites), Angela Lansbury (Nancy Oliver). BW-114m. Closed captioning. Descriptive video. Why GASLIGHT is Essential Romantic young heroines who are threatened and terrorized (or imagine themselves to be) by the man they love were a staple of films in the forties. Joan Fontaine was put through that wringer twice by Alfred Hitchcock, in Rebecca (1940) and Suspicion (1942). The treatment was also doled out to Katharine Hepburn in Undercurrent (1946), Elizabeth Taylor in Conspirator (1949), and to an overwrought, bed-ridden Barbara Stanwyck in Sorry, Wrong Number (1948). While the above films have their merits, Gaslight is easily the most effective entry in the young-wife-in-distress category. Hitchcock's Suspicion, in fact, is a bit of a cheat since the husband turns out to be completely innocent of his suspected crimes. Based on a hit London stage melodrama, Gaslight was first put on film in 1939 with Anton Walbrook and Diana Wynyard in the leads. Some critics today prefer this nearly forgotten British version, partially because it played so effectively on the subtle cruelties of the English class system. But the 1944 MGM release remains popular and acclaimed for its mounting sense of terror, aided in no small part by the strong, moody direction of George Cukor, known for coaxing superlative performances from his actors, particularly the female cast members. Ingrid Bergman, who had long coveted the role of the tormented wife being driven insane by her husband in Gaslight, went after the role at MGM after resident star Hedy Lamarr turned it down. Bergman almost missed her chance when Selznick initially refused to loan her to MGM unless she was given first billing over costar Charles Boyer. When Boyer refused to budge on the matter, Bergman went to Selznick in tears begging him to reconsider - which he finally did. Gaslight won an Oscar® for Best Interior Decoration and was nominated in the categories of Best Picture, Actor (Boyer), Supporting Actress (Angela Lansbury), Screenplay and Black and White Cinematography. The film marked the movie and acting debut of Lansbury, who had been working in a Los Angeles department store before being cast as Nancy, the maid. Director George Cukor was instantly impressed by the fledgling actress's talent and professionalism, and prevailed when the studio resisted hiring her because she wasn't "sexy enough." By Rob Nixon & Frank Miller

Pop Culture (5/21) - GASLIGHT


Pop Culture 101 - GASLIGHT

Some prints of the original 1939 British film version still exist, despite MGM's attempt in 1944 to destroy all existing copies to avoid competition and comparison. This version still turns up occasionally on Turner Classic Movies.

Gaslight was referenced in the TV movie A Slight Case of Murder (1999), in which William H. Macy plays a film critic who tries to cover up the accidental death of his lover.

"Gaslighting" has entered into the language as a term for deliberately trying to drive someone to insanity by manipulating their environment, the way Boyer does to Bergman.

A similar plot device was used in the movie Hush...Hush, Sweet Charlotte (1964), in which Olivia de Havilland and Joseph Cotten (one of the original cast members of Gaslight) attempt to drive Bette Davis mad in order to take possession of her home and money.

by Rob Nixon

Pop Culture (5/21) - GASLIGHT

Pop Culture 101 - GASLIGHT Some prints of the original 1939 British film version still exist, despite MGM's attempt in 1944 to destroy all existing copies to avoid competition and comparison. This version still turns up occasionally on Turner Classic Movies. Gaslight was referenced in the TV movie A Slight Case of Murder (1999), in which William H. Macy plays a film critic who tries to cover up the accidental death of his lover. "Gaslighting" has entered into the language as a term for deliberately trying to drive someone to insanity by manipulating their environment, the way Boyer does to Bergman. A similar plot device was used in the movie Hush...Hush, Sweet Charlotte (1964), in which Olivia de Havilland and Joseph Cotten (one of the original cast members of Gaslight) attempt to drive Bette Davis mad in order to take possession of her home and money. by Rob Nixon

Trivia (5/21) - GASLIGHT


Trivia and Other Fun Stuff on Gaslight

MGM head Louis B. Mayer, determined to eliminate the competition for what was expected to be one of the studio's biggest hits of the year, ordered all prints of the 1939 British version purchased and destroyed. Prints, however, did survive, and the film turned up again in the 1950s, often under the title of the original 1938 stage production, Angel Street.

Jack Benny did a spoof of the movie on his TV show in the 1950s. Called "Autolight," Benny spoofed the Boyer character while Barbara Stanwyck performed a comic burlesque of the original Bergman part. MGM brought an infringement suit against Benny, but the comedian's lawyers argued the skit was in the realm of parody and therefore not a copyright violation. The suit was dropped.

The British play on which Gaslight was based, Angel Street, was produced on Broadway in 1941 starring Vincent Price and Judith Evans.

Screenwriter John Van Druten was also a successful playwright and many of his plays were made into movies: I Remember Mama (1948), Bell, Book and Candle (1958), and Cabaret (1972, based on his play I Am a Camera, which was made into a movie in 1955). His play Old Acquaintance became a Bette Davis movie in 1943 and was remade by George Cukor as Rich and Famous (1981), the director's last film.

Ingrid Bergman won her Oscar® for Gaslight while filming The Bells of St. Mary's (1945) with previous Oscar winners Bing Crosby and director Leo McCarey. In her acceptance speech, she said, "I am particularly glad to get [the Oscar®] this time because I'm working on a picture at the moment with Mr. Crosby and Mr. McCarey. And I'm afraid if I went on the set tomorrow without an award, neither of them would speak to me."

Bergman learned her lesson shooting the love scene with Boyer before any of the rest of the film had been shot. She hated doing passionate takes with a leading man she barely knew. Years later, making the movie Goodbye Again (1961), she co-starred with Anthony Perkins who played her younger lover. Before shooting began, Bergman invited Perkins into her dressing room and asked him to kiss her so she wouldn't blush and feel uncomfortable when the cameras rolled for their first love scene.

During the production of Gaslight, Boyer's wife, Pat, was pregnant after many years of trying to have a baby. Bergman said Boyer was always rushing to the phone to check on his wife as the expected birth date drew near. The couple thought the baby wouldn't arrive until after filming, but their only son, Michael, was weeks early. One day, Boyer rushed to the phone and came back with tears streaming down his face. Pat had delivered while he was on the set. The cast and crew immediately opened bottles of champagne.

In the big confrontation scene between the chambermaid and the lady of the house, Lansbury was required to light a cigarette in defiance of her mistress's orders. But because she was only 17, the social worker and teacher assigned to her would not allow her to smoke until she was a year older. When her 18th birthday arrived, Bergman and the cast threw her a party on the set, and the scene was done shortly after.

Boyer opened a French library in Los Angeles and formed a French society there.

Bergman placed number 30 on Empire magazine's list of the 100 Sexiest Stars in film history in 1995.

Compiled by Rob Nixon

Famous Quotes from GASLIGHT

Paula (Ingrid Bergman): Suddenly, I'm beginning not to trust my memory at all.

Gregory (Charles Boyer): Jewels are wonderful things. They have a life of their own.

Miss Thwaites (Dame May Whitty): It's an odd household, too. That maidservant ­ most impertinent. I can't get a thing out of her. She won't talk to me, though she would quick enough if I wore trousers. The way she carries on with that policeman on the beat. Scandalous!

Paula: Gregory, are you trying to tell me I'm insane?
Gregory: It's what I'm trying NOT to tell myself.

Paula: If I were not mad, I could have helped you. Whatever you had done, I could have pitied and protected you. But because I am mad, I hate you. Because I am mad, I have betrayed you. And because I'm mad, I'm rejoicing in my heart, without a shred of pity, without a shred of regret, watching you go with glory in my heart!

Compiled by Rob Nixon

Trivia (5/21) - GASLIGHT

Trivia and Other Fun Stuff on Gaslight MGM head Louis B. Mayer, determined to eliminate the competition for what was expected to be one of the studio's biggest hits of the year, ordered all prints of the 1939 British version purchased and destroyed. Prints, however, did survive, and the film turned up again in the 1950s, often under the title of the original 1938 stage production, Angel Street. Jack Benny did a spoof of the movie on his TV show in the 1950s. Called "Autolight," Benny spoofed the Boyer character while Barbara Stanwyck performed a comic burlesque of the original Bergman part. MGM brought an infringement suit against Benny, but the comedian's lawyers argued the skit was in the realm of parody and therefore not a copyright violation. The suit was dropped. The British play on which Gaslight was based, Angel Street, was produced on Broadway in 1941 starring Vincent Price and Judith Evans. Screenwriter John Van Druten was also a successful playwright and many of his plays were made into movies: I Remember Mama (1948), Bell, Book and Candle (1958), and Cabaret (1972, based on his play I Am a Camera, which was made into a movie in 1955). His play Old Acquaintance became a Bette Davis movie in 1943 and was remade by George Cukor as Rich and Famous (1981), the director's last film. Ingrid Bergman won her Oscar® for Gaslight while filming The Bells of St. Mary's (1945) with previous Oscar winners Bing Crosby and director Leo McCarey. In her acceptance speech, she said, "I am particularly glad to get [the Oscar®] this time because I'm working on a picture at the moment with Mr. Crosby and Mr. McCarey. And I'm afraid if I went on the set tomorrow without an award, neither of them would speak to me." Bergman learned her lesson shooting the love scene with Boyer before any of the rest of the film had been shot. She hated doing passionate takes with a leading man she barely knew. Years later, making the movie Goodbye Again (1961), she co-starred with Anthony Perkins who played her younger lover. Before shooting began, Bergman invited Perkins into her dressing room and asked him to kiss her so she wouldn't blush and feel uncomfortable when the cameras rolled for their first love scene. During the production of Gaslight, Boyer's wife, Pat, was pregnant after many years of trying to have a baby. Bergman said Boyer was always rushing to the phone to check on his wife as the expected birth date drew near. The couple thought the baby wouldn't arrive until after filming, but their only son, Michael, was weeks early. One day, Boyer rushed to the phone and came back with tears streaming down his face. Pat had delivered while he was on the set. The cast and crew immediately opened bottles of champagne. In the big confrontation scene between the chambermaid and the lady of the house, Lansbury was required to light a cigarette in defiance of her mistress's orders. But because she was only 17, the social worker and teacher assigned to her would not allow her to smoke until she was a year older. When her 18th birthday arrived, Bergman and the cast threw her a party on the set, and the scene was done shortly after. Boyer opened a French library in Los Angeles and formed a French society there. Bergman placed number 30 on Empire magazine's list of the 100 Sexiest Stars in film history in 1995. Compiled by Rob Nixon Famous Quotes from GASLIGHT Paula (Ingrid Bergman): Suddenly, I'm beginning not to trust my memory at all. Gregory (Charles Boyer): Jewels are wonderful things. They have a life of their own. Miss Thwaites (Dame May Whitty): It's an odd household, too. That maidservant ­ most impertinent. I can't get a thing out of her. She won't talk to me, though she would quick enough if I wore trousers. The way she carries on with that policeman on the beat. Scandalous! Paula: Gregory, are you trying to tell me I'm insane? Gregory: It's what I'm trying NOT to tell myself. Paula: If I were not mad, I could have helped you. Whatever you had done, I could have pitied and protected you. But because I am mad, I hate you. Because I am mad, I have betrayed you. And because I'm mad, I'm rejoicing in my heart, without a shred of pity, without a shred of regret, watching you go with glory in my heart! Compiled by Rob Nixon

The Big Idea (5/21) - GASLIGHT


The Big Idea Behind GASLIGHT

Gaslight was based on a successful London stage production of 1938 called Angel Street, by Patrick Hamilton. A British production was filmed by director Thorold Dickinson in 1939. The U.S. film rights were acquired first by Columbia, then by MGM, who handed it to one of their top directors, George Cukor. The adaptation by John Van Druten, Walter Reisch and John L. Balderston was very faithful to the original.

Although the heroine, Paula, is one of her best-known roles and the one that earned her the first of three Academy Awards, Gaslight was almost not an Ingrid Bergman picture at all. The story was bought in 1941 by Columbia Pictures as a vehicle for Irene Dunne. Metro later acquired the rights, intending it for Hedy Lamarr. Cukor, however, wanted Bergman, but the increasingly fragile and disturbed young wife was not a role independent producer David Selznick wanted to allow his hottest contract star to take on. Bergman herself had doubts; she was a tall, strong, robust young woman and feared she couldn't pull off the frailty required of the character. But Cukor convinced her that was exactly what he was looking for. "She wasn't normally a timid woman; she was healthy," Cukor explained years later. "To reduce someone like that to a scared, jittering creature is interesting and dramatic. You have to avoid letting people play scenes before you get to them. It would have been dangerous to cast the kind of actress you'd expect to go mad, the kind you know from the first moment you're in for a big mad scene."

Once Bergman was convinced, there was no stopping her from playing the part; not even Selznick could refuse her the role. The next big hitch came when Charles Boyer's management insisted on top billing for the French star, who was then the "Great Lover" of the screen. It was an uncharacteristically villainous role for Boyer, which made it all the more attractive to him. First and foremost an actor of integrity and taste, Boyer later welcomed the receding hairline and slight paunch of middle age that would break him out of the romantic "continental lover" mold. With Gaslight he saw one of his earliest opportunities to stretch, but he had also been a star several years longer than Bergman, and his agent felt taking second billing would be seen as a sign that his prestige was fading. But Selznick was adamant ­ if one of his top stars was to be loaned out to the biggest and most glamorous studio in Hollywood, she would have to get prime billing. (For a time, there was talk the role would go to Greer Garson, then one of MGM's leading actresses.) Bergman, however, didn't care; she desperately wanted to work with Boyer and Cukor, and she wasn't above resorting to a great show of tears and high theatrics to bring her boss around to her way of thinking.

It also helped that MGM promised to beef up the role of the Scotland Yard detective assigned to Joseph Cotten, another Selznick contractee, and put his name above the title as well. With Bergman sandwiched between the two male stars, the billing looked more like the sexual symmetry studios went for in their advertising (think of Katharine Hepburn framed by Cary Grant and James Stewart in Cukor's The Philadelphia Story, 1940). Selznick gave in, clearing the way for one of the most memorable screen duos ever.

By Rob Nixon

The Big Idea (5/21) - GASLIGHT

The Big Idea Behind GASLIGHT Gaslight was based on a successful London stage production of 1938 called Angel Street, by Patrick Hamilton. A British production was filmed by director Thorold Dickinson in 1939. The U.S. film rights were acquired first by Columbia, then by MGM, who handed it to one of their top directors, George Cukor. The adaptation by John Van Druten, Walter Reisch and John L. Balderston was very faithful to the original. Although the heroine, Paula, is one of her best-known roles and the one that earned her the first of three Academy Awards, Gaslight was almost not an Ingrid Bergman picture at all. The story was bought in 1941 by Columbia Pictures as a vehicle for Irene Dunne. Metro later acquired the rights, intending it for Hedy Lamarr. Cukor, however, wanted Bergman, but the increasingly fragile and disturbed young wife was not a role independent producer David Selznick wanted to allow his hottest contract star to take on. Bergman herself had doubts; she was a tall, strong, robust young woman and feared she couldn't pull off the frailty required of the character. But Cukor convinced her that was exactly what he was looking for. "She wasn't normally a timid woman; she was healthy," Cukor explained years later. "To reduce someone like that to a scared, jittering creature is interesting and dramatic. You have to avoid letting people play scenes before you get to them. It would have been dangerous to cast the kind of actress you'd expect to go mad, the kind you know from the first moment you're in for a big mad scene." Once Bergman was convinced, there was no stopping her from playing the part; not even Selznick could refuse her the role. The next big hitch came when Charles Boyer's management insisted on top billing for the French star, who was then the "Great Lover" of the screen. It was an uncharacteristically villainous role for Boyer, which made it all the more attractive to him. First and foremost an actor of integrity and taste, Boyer later welcomed the receding hairline and slight paunch of middle age that would break him out of the romantic "continental lover" mold. With Gaslight he saw one of his earliest opportunities to stretch, but he had also been a star several years longer than Bergman, and his agent felt taking second billing would be seen as a sign that his prestige was fading. But Selznick was adamant ­ if one of his top stars was to be loaned out to the biggest and most glamorous studio in Hollywood, she would have to get prime billing. (For a time, there was talk the role would go to Greer Garson, then one of MGM's leading actresses.) Bergman, however, didn't care; she desperately wanted to work with Boyer and Cukor, and she wasn't above resorting to a great show of tears and high theatrics to bring her boss around to her way of thinking. It also helped that MGM promised to beef up the role of the Scotland Yard detective assigned to Joseph Cotten, another Selznick contractee, and put his name above the title as well. With Bergman sandwiched between the two male stars, the billing looked more like the sexual symmetry studios went for in their advertising (think of Katharine Hepburn framed by Cary Grant and James Stewart in Cukor's The Philadelphia Story, 1940). Selznick gave in, clearing the way for one of the most memorable screen duos ever. By Rob Nixon

Behind the Camera (5/21) - GASLIGHT


Behind the Camera on GASLIGHT

Director George Cukor suggested Bergman study the patients at a mental hospital to learn about nervous breakdowns. She did, focusing on one woman in particular, whose habits and physical quirks became part of the character.

Bergman usually succeeded in getting her way during film productions, but she did lose on one important detail. The actress hated to begin shooting with a passionate love scene before she got to know her leading man better. But the first scene captured on film had her leaping out of a railway carriage and racing into Boyer's arms. It was an awkward moment for her, all the more so because Boyer was a few inches shorter than her and had to stand on a box for the scene. "I had to rush up and be careful not to kick the box, and go into my act," Bergman said in her autobiography My Story (Delacorte, 1980), written with Alan Burgess. "It was easier for us to die of laughter than look like lovers."

Bergman had great respect for Charles Boyer, however. In her autobiography, she called him the most intelligent actor she ever worked with and one of the nicest. "He was widely read and well educated, and so different," she wrote.

Boyer's height presented more than one problem during the shooting. He had to perch on a box again when he next appeared with Bergman in Arch of Triumph (1948). And at 5'8", Angela Lansbury, his co-star in Gaslight, was as tall as Bergman. Cukor made her wear platform shoes to increase her height and accentuate her sinister persona in scenes where she had to threaten Bergman. That only made Boyer's shortness (and need for a box) more evident.

One of the happy results of Gaslight was that it launched Angela Lansbury's long and acclaimed acting career. In Peter Bogdanovich's book of interviews, Who the Devil Made It (Ballantine Books), Cukor recalled the casting of Lansbury: "...there was a very good part of a rather sluttish housemaid. We looked around, we saw some English girls, and they weren't really very fresh or quite right for it. And playwright John Van Druten, who wrote the script, said: 'You know, Moyna MacGill' - who was a very well known English actress - 'is here with her three children. She was a refugee during the war and I know she has a daughter - I think she may be fourteen; I have no idea how old she is.' Then he found out and said, 'Yes, she is sixteen or seventeen.' At the moment they were working at Bullocks making Christmas packages and this girl came up who had never acted before, and she read the thing and I thought she was awfully good....Anyway, she did get the job. Now: the very first day on the set, she was absolutely at home - she had never acted. She wasn't as accomplished as she is now but she was an actress and she had the talent for changing herself physically without appearing to. And she had this rather sullen, bad-tempered face - rather impertinent face - it just came from the inside. And there was this full-blown character. Then what makes her interesting is that right after that she played in The Picture of Dorian Gray (1945) - directed by a friend of mine, Albert Lewin - in which she played the most exquisite and fragile heroine. That could have been awfully saccharine and she did it with great delicacy and feeling - and looked quite different." Lansbury made such an impression in her debut she was nominated for a Best Supporting Actress Academy Award and cast in another film that same year as Elizabeth Taylor's older sister in National Velvet. Many years later when she was watching the film again, Lansbury commented with astonishment, "My God, how did I have all that assurance?"

George Cukor was known in the industry as a "woman's director," and many of his best-known movies up to that point had been stylish and breezy comedies: Dinner at Eight (1933), Holiday (1938), The Women (1939), The Philadelphia Story (1940). But he also knew his way around period dramas: Little Women (1933), David Copperfield (1935), Camille (1937). Still, many were surprised and impressed by the skill with which he created the tense and moody atmosphere of Gaslight. "I really think the style comes out of the story," he told film historian Gavin Lambert late in his career. "If you're going to do a story about a murder in a Victorian house, you make it claustrophobic, you make it clouded and gas lit. You research the period, not just to reproduce things physically but for the emotions it stirs up in you. ... I always say the text dictates the whole style to me, which may not be to the director's advantage, because it means his touch is not immediately recognizable."

Cukor said he didn't like to talk about the part with actors too much because "you lose the magic" and that he never rehearsed the emotions of a scene, only the mechanics, so the actors could make fresh choices when the cameras rolled. But he also admitted that he had a tendency to "lead" the actors, in his own special way. While directing Bergman, he kept retelling her the plot to bring her up to the emotional point of the scene and keep her intensity up between takes. Finally one day, she told him politely, "I'm not a dumb Swede, you've told me that before." Cukor stopped telling her anything, the result of which, he said, was that the producer watching later rushes told him the actors appeared to be "acting as thought they're under water." So, Cukor resumed his storytelling method, a practice Bergman soon grew to appreciate.

Years after the release of Gaslight, Cukor pointed out that his direction and the performances of the cast weren't the only factors that made the film a success. He also credited the rich production resources of MGM for access to all the items needed to create the film's Victorian home in minute detail, an important factor in a story that involved objects from the house being deliberately misplaced and "stolen" to convince Bergman's character she was going mad. Cukor told Lambert about Paul Huldschinsky, a German refugee whose family had owned newspapers and whose wife had once owned railroads in their native country. At the time of the film's production, Huldschinsky was working in a rather obscure job as a set dresser at Metro, primarily doing gas stations and other rather pedestrian assignments. The studio wanted to put one of their more established and well-known dressers on the project, but Cukor insisted on Huldschinsky and was rewarded for his support by an intricate and lushly detailed set that earned an Oscar®.

By Rob Nixon

Behind the Camera (5/21) - GASLIGHT

Behind the Camera on GASLIGHT Director George Cukor suggested Bergman study the patients at a mental hospital to learn about nervous breakdowns. She did, focusing on one woman in particular, whose habits and physical quirks became part of the character. Bergman usually succeeded in getting her way during film productions, but she did lose on one important detail. The actress hated to begin shooting with a passionate love scene before she got to know her leading man better. But the first scene captured on film had her leaping out of a railway carriage and racing into Boyer's arms. It was an awkward moment for her, all the more so because Boyer was a few inches shorter than her and had to stand on a box for the scene. "I had to rush up and be careful not to kick the box, and go into my act," Bergman said in her autobiography My Story (Delacorte, 1980), written with Alan Burgess. "It was easier for us to die of laughter than look like lovers." Bergman had great respect for Charles Boyer, however. In her autobiography, she called him the most intelligent actor she ever worked with and one of the nicest. "He was widely read and well educated, and so different," she wrote. Boyer's height presented more than one problem during the shooting. He had to perch on a box again when he next appeared with Bergman in Arch of Triumph (1948). And at 5'8", Angela Lansbury, his co-star in Gaslight, was as tall as Bergman. Cukor made her wear platform shoes to increase her height and accentuate her sinister persona in scenes where she had to threaten Bergman. That only made Boyer's shortness (and need for a box) more evident. One of the happy results of Gaslight was that it launched Angela Lansbury's long and acclaimed acting career. In Peter Bogdanovich's book of interviews, Who the Devil Made It (Ballantine Books), Cukor recalled the casting of Lansbury: "...there was a very good part of a rather sluttish housemaid. We looked around, we saw some English girls, and they weren't really very fresh or quite right for it. And playwright John Van Druten, who wrote the script, said: 'You know, Moyna MacGill' - who was a very well known English actress - 'is here with her three children. She was a refugee during the war and I know she has a daughter - I think she may be fourteen; I have no idea how old she is.' Then he found out and said, 'Yes, she is sixteen or seventeen.' At the moment they were working at Bullocks making Christmas packages and this girl came up who had never acted before, and she read the thing and I thought she was awfully good....Anyway, she did get the job. Now: the very first day on the set, she was absolutely at home - she had never acted. She wasn't as accomplished as she is now but she was an actress and she had the talent for changing herself physically without appearing to. And she had this rather sullen, bad-tempered face - rather impertinent face - it just came from the inside. And there was this full-blown character. Then what makes her interesting is that right after that she played in The Picture of Dorian Gray (1945) - directed by a friend of mine, Albert Lewin - in which she played the most exquisite and fragile heroine. That could have been awfully saccharine and she did it with great delicacy and feeling - and looked quite different." Lansbury made such an impression in her debut she was nominated for a Best Supporting Actress Academy Award and cast in another film that same year as Elizabeth Taylor's older sister in National Velvet. Many years later when she was watching the film again, Lansbury commented with astonishment, "My God, how did I have all that assurance?" George Cukor was known in the industry as a "woman's director," and many of his best-known movies up to that point had been stylish and breezy comedies: Dinner at Eight (1933), Holiday (1938), The Women (1939), The Philadelphia Story (1940). But he also knew his way around period dramas: Little Women (1933), David Copperfield (1935), Camille (1937). Still, many were surprised and impressed by the skill with which he created the tense and moody atmosphere of Gaslight. "I really think the style comes out of the story," he told film historian Gavin Lambert late in his career. "If you're going to do a story about a murder in a Victorian house, you make it claustrophobic, you make it clouded and gas lit. You research the period, not just to reproduce things physically but for the emotions it stirs up in you. ... I always say the text dictates the whole style to me, which may not be to the director's advantage, because it means his touch is not immediately recognizable." Cukor said he didn't like to talk about the part with actors too much because "you lose the magic" and that he never rehearsed the emotions of a scene, only the mechanics, so the actors could make fresh choices when the cameras rolled. But he also admitted that he had a tendency to "lead" the actors, in his own special way. While directing Bergman, he kept retelling her the plot to bring her up to the emotional point of the scene and keep her intensity up between takes. Finally one day, she told him politely, "I'm not a dumb Swede, you've told me that before." Cukor stopped telling her anything, the result of which, he said, was that the producer watching later rushes told him the actors appeared to be "acting as thought they're under water." So, Cukor resumed his storytelling method, a practice Bergman soon grew to appreciate. Years after the release of Gaslight, Cukor pointed out that his direction and the performances of the cast weren't the only factors that made the film a success. He also credited the rich production resources of MGM for access to all the items needed to create the film's Victorian home in minute detail, an important factor in a story that involved objects from the house being deliberately misplaced and "stolen" to convince Bergman's character she was going mad. Cukor told Lambert about Paul Huldschinsky, a German refugee whose family had owned newspapers and whose wife had once owned railroads in their native country. At the time of the film's production, Huldschinsky was working in a rather obscure job as a set dresser at Metro, primarily doing gas stations and other rather pedestrian assignments. The studio wanted to put one of their more established and well-known dressers on the project, but Cukor insisted on Huldschinsky and was rewarded for his support by an intricate and lushly detailed set that earned an Oscar®. By Rob Nixon

The Critics Corner (5/21) - GASLIGHT


The Critics' Corner on GASLIGHT

"Nice little personal vignettes are interestingly contributed by Joseph Cotten as a stubborn detective, Dame May Whitty, and Angela Lansbury as a maid." ­ - Bosley Crowther, The New York Times, 1944.

"If subtlety is the hallmark of Boyer's dramatic art, then Gaslight exemplifies it, and not only in his scenes with Bergman. Consider the scene wherein Gregory, alone, discovers by accident the jewels he has quietly been seeking with Javert-like doggedness. It might have provided an eye-popping display for a lesser actor, but it revealed Boyer's power for understatement." - Larry Swindell, Charles Boyer: The Reluctant Love (Doubleday, 1983).

"Cukor plants an indefinable sense of unease during the sunnily romantic Italian holiday (a lengthy addition in this version), then gradually orchestrates it into a genuinely harrowing crescendo of terror in the claustrophobically cluttered house in fogbound London where the husband is methodically driving his wife insane. One of Bergman's best performances, with Boyer not too far behind, and Lansbury unforgettable...." ­- Tom Milne, TimeOut Film Guide (Penguin, 1999).

"A terrifying study of how a husband can dominate and abuse his wife through manipulative words and actions as easily as with fists." ­- Danny Peary, Guide for the Film Fanatic (Simon & Schuster, 1986).

"[Bergman] runs the gamut from antimacassar to antimacassar, and it's good scary fun all the way." ­- Pauline Kael, 5001 Nights at the Movies (Henry Holt and Co., 1982.

"...an exciting screen treatment by Arthur Hornblow Jr's excellent production...There are times when the screen treatment verges on a type of drama that must be linked to the period upon which the title is based, but this factor only serves to hypo the film's dramatic suspense where normally it might be construed as corny theatrics." - Variety Movie Guide.

"There is no subtlety, and it's rather like watching zee Frenchman kick zee puppy poodle for an hour and a half. There's also an unconvincing attempt to turn the sanity tables on Anton in the final act, where his passion for precious stones is meant to mirror Paula's need for marital understanding even at the cost of her mind. Mind you, Gaslight is an expertly directed and evenly paced slow burn (and Dame May Whitty is a stitch, though underused, as a nosy neighbor lady), but its lack of a sound moral and psychological center renders it totally transitory and forgettable." - Eric Henderson, Slant Magazine.

AWARDS AND NOMINATIONS

Gaslight won Academy Awards for Best Actress (Ingrid Bergman) and Art Direction-Interior Decoration. It also secured nominations for Best Picture, Best Actor (Charles Boyer), Best Supporting Actress (Angela Lansbury), Adapted Screenplay, and Cinematography.

A Golden Globe also went to Ingrid Bergman as Best Actress for Gaslight.

Compiled by Rob Nixon

The Critics Corner (5/21) - GASLIGHT

The Critics' Corner on GASLIGHT "Nice little personal vignettes are interestingly contributed by Joseph Cotten as a stubborn detective, Dame May Whitty, and Angela Lansbury as a maid." ­ - Bosley Crowther, The New York Times, 1944. "If subtlety is the hallmark of Boyer's dramatic art, then Gaslight exemplifies it, and not only in his scenes with Bergman. Consider the scene wherein Gregory, alone, discovers by accident the jewels he has quietly been seeking with Javert-like doggedness. It might have provided an eye-popping display for a lesser actor, but it revealed Boyer's power for understatement." - Larry Swindell, Charles Boyer: The Reluctant Love (Doubleday, 1983). "Cukor plants an indefinable sense of unease during the sunnily romantic Italian holiday (a lengthy addition in this version), then gradually orchestrates it into a genuinely harrowing crescendo of terror in the claustrophobically cluttered house in fogbound London where the husband is methodically driving his wife insane. One of Bergman's best performances, with Boyer not too far behind, and Lansbury unforgettable...." ­- Tom Milne, TimeOut Film Guide (Penguin, 1999). "A terrifying study of how a husband can dominate and abuse his wife through manipulative words and actions as easily as with fists." ­- Danny Peary, Guide for the Film Fanatic (Simon & Schuster, 1986). "[Bergman] runs the gamut from antimacassar to antimacassar, and it's good scary fun all the way." ­- Pauline Kael, 5001 Nights at the Movies (Henry Holt and Co., 1982. "...an exciting screen treatment by Arthur Hornblow Jr's excellent production...There are times when the screen treatment verges on a type of drama that must be linked to the period upon which the title is based, but this factor only serves to hypo the film's dramatic suspense where normally it might be construed as corny theatrics." - Variety Movie Guide. "There is no subtlety, and it's rather like watching zee Frenchman kick zee puppy poodle for an hour and a half. There's also an unconvincing attempt to turn the sanity tables on Anton in the final act, where his passion for precious stones is meant to mirror Paula's need for marital understanding even at the cost of her mind. Mind you, Gaslight is an expertly directed and evenly paced slow burn (and Dame May Whitty is a stitch, though underused, as a nosy neighbor lady), but its lack of a sound moral and psychological center renders it totally transitory and forgettable." - Eric Henderson, Slant Magazine. AWARDS AND NOMINATIONS Gaslight won Academy Awards for Best Actress (Ingrid Bergman) and Art Direction-Interior Decoration. It also secured nominations for Best Picture, Best Actor (Charles Boyer), Best Supporting Actress (Angela Lansbury), Adapted Screenplay, and Cinematography. A Golden Globe also went to Ingrid Bergman as Best Actress for Gaslight. Compiled by Rob Nixon

Gaslight (1944)


At the 1945 Academy Awards® ceremony, when Ingrid Bergman accepted her first Oscar® for Gaslight, Bing Crosby and Leo McCarey had just won awards as, respectively, Best Actor and Director for Going My Way (1944). "Tomorrow I go to work in a picture with Bing and Mr. McCarey," said Bergman, referring to the upcoming The Bells of St. Mary's (1945). "And I'm afraid that, if I didn't have an Oscar® too, they wouldn't speak to me." Bergman's Best Actress Oscar® was presented by best friend and fellow David O. Selznick contractee Jennifer Jones, who had emerged the winner the year before when both actresses were nominated - Bergman for For Whom the Bell Tolls (1943) and Jones for The Song of Bernadette (1943).

"Your artistry has won our vote and your graciousness has won our hearts," Jones said as she handed the statuette to Bergman. An even more generous compliment came from fellow nominee Barbara Stanwyck, who many felt should have won the Best Actress Oscar® that year for Double Indemnity (1944). Declaring herself "a member of the Ingrid Bergman Fan Club," Stanwyck told the press, "I don't feel at all bad about the Award because my favorite actress won it and has earned it by all her performances."

Bergman, who had long coveted the role of the tormented wife being driven insane by her husband in Gaslight, went after the role at MGM after resident star Hedy Lamarr turned it down. Bergman almost missed her chance when Selznick initially refused to loan her to MGM unless she was given first billing over costar Charles Boyer. When Boyer refused to budge on the matter, Bergman went to Selznick in tears begging him to reconsider - which he finally did. Because the statuesque Bergman was taller than her co-star, Boyer stood on a box during certain scenes - a ploy that would be repeated when the two stars worked together again in Arch of Triumph (1948). Boyer reportedly was distracted throughout the filming of Gaslight because the production coincided with the birth of his son, Michael. When the blessed event occurred, the proud papa treated the cast and crew to champagne.

Gaslight also won an Oscar® for Best Interior Decoration and was nominated in the categories of Best Picture, Actor (Boyer), Supporting Actress (Angela Lansbury), Screenplay and Black and White Cinematography. The film marked the movie and acting debut of Lansbury, who had been working in a Los Angeles department store before being cast as Nancy, the maid. Director George Cukor was instantly impressed by the fledgling actress' talent and professionalism, and prevailed when the studio resisted hiring her because she wasn't "sexy enough." Lansbury turned 18 on the set - and had to wait for that day to legally light a cigarette, a defiant gesture made by her saucy character. She, too, had to contend with Bergman's height, wearing high platform shoes to give the impression that Nancy towered over her timid mistress.

Director: George Cukor
Producer: Arthur Hornblow, Jr.
Screenwriter: John L. Balderston, Walter Reisch, John van Druten
Cinematographer: Joseph Ruttenberg
Composer: Bronislau Kaper
Editor: Arthur Williams, Ralph Winters
Art Director: William Ferrari, Cedric Gibbons
Costume Designer: Marion Herwood Keyes, Irene Sharaff
Cast: Charles Boyer (Gregory Anton), Ingrid Bergman (Paula Alquist), Joseph Cotton (Brian Cameron), Dame May Whitty (Miss Thwaites), Angela Lansbury (Nancy Oliver)
BW-114m. Closed captioning. Descriptive video.

by Roger Fristoe

Gaslight (1944)

At the 1945 Academy Awards® ceremony, when Ingrid Bergman accepted her first Oscar® for Gaslight, Bing Crosby and Leo McCarey had just won awards as, respectively, Best Actor and Director for Going My Way (1944). "Tomorrow I go to work in a picture with Bing and Mr. McCarey," said Bergman, referring to the upcoming The Bells of St. Mary's (1945). "And I'm afraid that, if I didn't have an Oscar® too, they wouldn't speak to me." Bergman's Best Actress Oscar® was presented by best friend and fellow David O. Selznick contractee Jennifer Jones, who had emerged the winner the year before when both actresses were nominated - Bergman for For Whom the Bell Tolls (1943) and Jones for The Song of Bernadette (1943). "Your artistry has won our vote and your graciousness has won our hearts," Jones said as she handed the statuette to Bergman. An even more generous compliment came from fellow nominee Barbara Stanwyck, who many felt should have won the Best Actress Oscar® that year for Double Indemnity (1944). Declaring herself "a member of the Ingrid Bergman Fan Club," Stanwyck told the press, "I don't feel at all bad about the Award because my favorite actress won it and has earned it by all her performances." Bergman, who had long coveted the role of the tormented wife being driven insane by her husband in Gaslight, went after the role at MGM after resident star Hedy Lamarr turned it down. Bergman almost missed her chance when Selznick initially refused to loan her to MGM unless she was given first billing over costar Charles Boyer. When Boyer refused to budge on the matter, Bergman went to Selznick in tears begging him to reconsider - which he finally did. Because the statuesque Bergman was taller than her co-star, Boyer stood on a box during certain scenes - a ploy that would be repeated when the two stars worked together again in Arch of Triumph (1948). Boyer reportedly was distracted throughout the filming of Gaslight because the production coincided with the birth of his son, Michael. When the blessed event occurred, the proud papa treated the cast and crew to champagne. Gaslight also won an Oscar® for Best Interior Decoration and was nominated in the categories of Best Picture, Actor (Boyer), Supporting Actress (Angela Lansbury), Screenplay and Black and White Cinematography. The film marked the movie and acting debut of Lansbury, who had been working in a Los Angeles department store before being cast as Nancy, the maid. Director George Cukor was instantly impressed by the fledgling actress' talent and professionalism, and prevailed when the studio resisted hiring her because she wasn't "sexy enough." Lansbury turned 18 on the set - and had to wait for that day to legally light a cigarette, a defiant gesture made by her saucy character. She, too, had to contend with Bergman's height, wearing high platform shoes to give the impression that Nancy towered over her timid mistress. Director: George Cukor Producer: Arthur Hornblow, Jr. Screenwriter: John L. Balderston, Walter Reisch, John van Druten Cinematographer: Joseph Ruttenberg Composer: Bronislau Kaper Editor: Arthur Williams, Ralph Winters Art Director: William Ferrari, Cedric Gibbons Costume Designer: Marion Herwood Keyes, Irene Sharaff Cast: Charles Boyer (Gregory Anton), Ingrid Bergman (Paula Alquist), Joseph Cotton (Brian Cameron), Dame May Whitty (Miss Thwaites), Angela Lansbury (Nancy Oliver) BW-114m. Closed captioning. Descriptive video. by Roger Fristoe

Quotes

If I were not mad, I could have helped you. Whatever you had done, I could have pitied and protected you. But because I am mad, I hate you. Because I am mad, I have betrayed you. And because I'm mad, I'm rejoicing in my heart, without a shred of pity, without a shred of regret, watching you go with glory in my heart!
- Paula

Trivia

When this film was produced, the studio attempted to have all prints of the previous version, Gaslight (1940) destroyed. These efforts were ultimately unsuccessful, though the film was rarely seen for the next few decades.

Notes

In addition to the Beethoven sonata, a snippet from "Mattinati" by Ruggiero Leoncavella, as scored for piano by Robert Franklin and Charles Platte, is performed in the film. Following its successful run in London, Patrick Hamilton's play Gas Light opened in New York on December 5, 1941 under the title Angel Street. Shepard Traube directed Judith Evelyn, Vincent Price and Leo G. Carroll in the long-running Broadway production. In May 1940, British National Pictures released the first screen version of Hamilton's play, titled Gaslight. Columbia acquired the American distribution rights to the British film, which was directed by Thorold Dickinson and starred Diana Wynyard and Anton Walbrook, in 1941, and planned to release it under the title A Strange Case of Murder. Although Screen Achievements Bulletin indicates that Columbia was still cutting the British film as of February 1942, the studio never released the picture. According to an October 1942 Hollywood Reporter news item, Columbia was enjoined from releasing the film in the U.S. by Traube, who owned the American dramatic rights to the play. Modern sources note that M-G-M approached Traube about doing a screen version of his Broadway production, but as Traube did not control any screen rights, M-G-M was forced to negotiate with the English holders of the rights and eventually agreed to film the play under its original title. According to Hollywood Reporter, the studio paid $150,000 for the film rights to the London production. In August 1944, New York Times reported rumors that M-G-M had destroyed "the negative and every copy" of the British film, "except for one (possibly) forgotten print in the British Film Institute." Despite the rumors, the British version was released in the U.S. by Commercial Pictures in April 1953 under the title Angel Street. M-G-M's Gaslight was released in Great Britain under the title Murder in Thornton Square.
       According to modern sources, Vincente Minnelli was first slated to direct the picture, but screenwriters John Van Druten and Walter Reisch pushed for George Cukor, who eventually got the job. Melvyn Douglas and Irene Dunne were announced as the film's probable stars in October 1942, according to news items. Douglas was dropped in December 1942, after he joined the Army. Ingrid Bergman commented in her autobiography that she first wanted to do Gaslight after seeing the play on Broadway, but producer David O. Selznick, who controlled her contract, refused to purchase the property for her without substantial changes to her contract, which she rejected. Bergman also noted in her autobiography that, for one of her romantic scenes with Charles Boyer, Boyer, who was shorter than she, stood on a box. In July 1943, Hollywood Reporter announced that June Duprez was testing for a "lead" role, and that composer-pianist Albert Coates was being considered for a "dramatic" role. Neither performer appeared in the completed film, however. According to an M-G-M publicity item, Deidre Gale, "English child star," was to play Joseph Cotten's niece in the film, but her participation in the picture has not been confirmed. In August 1943, Hollywood Reporter announced that George Reeves was to play the "juvenile lead" in the picture, but his participation is doubtful. Jessica Newcombe, Keith Hitchcock and Percival Vivian were listed in Hollywood Reporter as cast members, but their appearance in the final film has not been confirmed. According to Hollywood Reporter, production designer William L. Pereira was brought in as a consultant on the picture for one week.
       Angela Lansbury made her screen debut in the film. In some Hollywood Reporter production charts, Lansbury in listed as Angela Marlowe. In a modern interview, Cukor stated that, when he began searching for an actress to play the part of "Nancy," writer Van Druten suggested that he contact Lansbury's actress mother, Moyna MacGill, a recent British emigre, who Van Druten thought might have a talented teenaged daughter. Louella Parsons commented in her Los Angeles Examiner review of the film that Lansbury, an "English refugee girl of 17...shows great promise as an actress." The Hollywood Reporter reviewer also noted that Lansbury showed "great promise," while the Daily Variety reviewer announced that Lansbury scored "a hit." Lansbury's performance earned her an Academy Award nomination as Best Supporting Actress, as well as a contract at M-G-M, the studio at which she made many films.
       In addition to Lansbury's nomination, Gaslight was nominated for the following Academy Awards: Best Actor (Boyer), Best Cinematography (b&w), Best Writing (Screenplay) and Best Picture. Bergman won an Oscar as Best Actress and Cedric Gibbons, William Ferrari, Edwin B. Willis and Paul Huldschinsky won Oscars for Best Art Direction (b&w). Bergman also won a National Board of Review award for her performance in the picture. Bergman and Boyer reprised their roles in a April 26, 1946 Lux Radio Theatre broadcast of Gaslight.
       Hamilton's play has been dramatized on television many times, all under the title Angel Street. The first production was broadcast on January 23, 1946 as part of NBC's Classic Plays on Television program. Judith Evelyn recreated her Broadway role for the show, which was produced by Ernest Colling. Theatre Guild presented its version, starring Betty Field, Walter Abel and Leo G. Carroll, in his Broadway role, on NBC on January 25, 1948. On October 20, 1950, the CBS network televised another version, directed by Franklin Schaffner and starring Judith Evelyn and Ferdi Hoffman. Station WOR in New York presented two versions; the first, broadcast on May 13, 1952, starred Victor Jory and Lola Montez, the second, broadcast on December 21, 1953, starred Sylvia Sidney. On March 25, 1954, Leueen McGrath and Jerome Kilty starred in a Kraft Theatre version on the ABC network. On May 9, 1958, Vincent Price, Judith Evelyn and Leo G. Carroll recreated their Broadway roles for NBC's program Matinee Theatre, which was directed by Walter Grauman.
       Hollywood Reporter news items provide the following additional information about the film: On June 11, 1953, comedian Jack Benny shot a parodic version of Gaslight for his CBS television Lucky Strike program, starring himself, Barbara Stanwyck, Bob Crosby, Eddie Anderson and Don Wilson. Before it could be broadcast, however, Loew's Inc. and Patrick Hamilton filed a federal lawsuit against Benny, CBS and sponsor American Tobacco Company, preventing the sketch from being shown. Although Benny had already satirized the picture during a January 30, 1952 broadcast of his comedy show, Loew's Inc. and Hamilton argued that the 1953 production, titled Autolite, constituted "infringement and unfair competition." On September 21, 1954, Judge James C. Carter found in favor of Loew's Inc. and Hamilton, stating that Benny had not only burlesqued the picture, but had also "appropriated a substantial part of [the] film and therefore went beyond the bounds of license to comedians." Arguing that the lower court's ruling would create a "stifling effect on parody and burlesque," Benny's lawyers took the case to the U.S. Supreme Court in April 1957. On March 17, 1958, the Supreme Court upheld the lower court's decision by a split decision. (Justice William O. Douglas did not participate in the vote). Benny finally bought a seven-year license from M-G-M, which allowed the parody to be televised, and CBS aired Autolite on January 13, 1959.

Miscellaneous Notes

Released in United States March 1979

Released in United States May 1944

Released in United States Winter January 1, 1944

Remake of "Gaslight" (1940) directed by Thorold Dickinson.

Released in United States Winter January 1, 1944

Released in United States March 1979 (Shown at FILMEX: Los Angeles International Film Exposition (The 50-Hour Mighty MovieMarathon: Mystery and Suspense) March 14-30, 1979.)

Released in United States May 1944