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Gaslight

Gaslight (1944) starring Charles Boyer, Ingrid Bergman, Angela Lansbury

In Gaslight, after her aunt is mysteriously killed, Paula (Ingrid Bergman) is sent to Italy to receive opera training. Being charmed by Gregory Anton (Charles Boyer) she falls in love and they move in together in London. Soon Paula begins to notice strange things happening, as Gregory is slowly manipulating her into believing she is insane.

Cast of characters

  • Charles Boyer (Conquest) as Gregory Anton. Paula’s new husband. He acts somewhat strangely, and more than a little controlling.
  • Ingrid Bergman (The Inn of the Sixth Happiness) as Paula Alquist Anton. The protagonist. Newlywed, she’s slowly beginning to suspect her own sanity. But she doesn’t think she’s crazy … But what are the gas lights in the house mysteriously dimming? Why is she the only one to notice it?
  • Joseph Cotten (I’ll Be Seeing You) as Brian Cameron. The police inspector who comes to Paula’s aid.
  • Angela Lansbury as Nancy Oliver. The new maid, hired by Gregory. Paula feels that she’s loathed by Nancy. But why?

Editorial review of Gaslight courtesy of Amazon.com

With Gregory looking on, Paula has discovered the letter from Sergis Bauer.
With Gregory looking on, Paula has discovered the letter from Sergis Bauer.

Academy Award-winning psychological thriller stars Oscar-winner Ingrid Bergman (“Casablanca,” “Anastasia“) as a newlywed unaware that her seemingly charming husband, Charles Boyer (“Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse“), is a crazed murderer. After they move into her family’s Victorian mansion, he schemes to drive her insane while he searches for a hidden cache of rubies. Chilling and suspenseful, it was nominated for Best Picture and Script. Bergman earned a well-deserved Oscar for her performance as the vulnerable heroine. Boyer and teenage Angela Lansbury (TV’s “Murder, She Wrote,” “National Velvet“) each received nominations. Directed by the great Oscar-winner George Cukor (“My Fair Lady,” “The Philadelphia Story“). With Joseph Cotton (“Citizen Kane,” “The Magnificent Ambersons“) and Oscar-nominee Dame May Whitty (“Mrs. Miniver“).


Another opinion from Amazon

George Cukor helped transform a moody Victorian stage melodrama (previously filmed in Britain in 1939) into a gothic Hollywood romantic thriller. Ingrid Bergman stars as a meek, uncertain heiress courted and married in a whirlwind romance by the debonair Charles Boyer, but when they move back into her childhood home she begins losing her grip on reality and becomes convinced that her husband is trying to drive her insane. Joseph Cotten, rather stiff and colorless next to the anguished Bergman and charming and lively Boyer, is the heroic Scotland Yard detective who becomes enamored of the skittish woman who is slowly succumbing to madness. The grand, glorious sets and elegant photography recall Hitchcock’s Rebecca, another lush Hollywood gothic melodrama of a retiring young wife overwhelmed by the history of her abode, and Gaslight is still assumed by some to be a Hitchcock film (the Bergman connection doesn’t help the confusion).

Charles Boyer and Ingrid Bergman in the final confrontation
Charles Boyer and Ingrid Bergman in the final confrontation in Gaslight

It’s really a rather straightforward thriller with a forced plot device, but under Cukor’s control the tightly constructed script is given the full MGM treatment, then reined in for intimate moments of harrowing suspense. Boyer brilliantly played off his continental lover reputation by adding an undercurrent of malevolence and Bergman won an Oscar for her haunted performance. It also marks the memorable debut of Angela Lansbury as a saucy maid unwittingly drawn into Boyer’s master plan. –Sean Axmaker

Quotes from Gaslight

Nancy Oliver [Angela Lansbury]: Gonna work on your tunes again tonight, sir? You’re always working, aren’t you?

Gregory Anton (Charles Boyer): Yes. What are you doing with your evening out?

Nancy Oliver [Angela Lansbury]: Oh, I’m going to a music hall… [starts to sing ‘Up in a balloon’]

Gregory Anton (Charles Boyer): I’ve never been to an English music hall.

Nancy Oliver [Angela Lansbury]: Oh, you don’t know what you’ve missed, sir…

Gregory Anton (Charles Boyer): And whom are you going to the music hall with?

Nancy Oliver [Angela Lansbury]: A gentleman friend, sir.

Gregory Anton (Charles Boyer): Oh, now you know, Nancy, don’t you, that gentlemen friends are sometimes inclined to take liberties with young ladies.

Nancy Oliver [Angela Lansbury]: Oh no, sir, not with me. I can take care of myself – when I want to.

Gregory Anton (Charles Boyer): You know, Nancy, it strikes me that you’re not at all the kind of girl that your mistress should have for a housemaid.

Nancy Oliver [Angela Lansbury]: [flirtatiously] No, sir? She’s not the only one in the house – is she?


Spoilers below

Gregory Anton (Charles Boyer): I knew from the first moment I saw you that you were dangerous to me.

Brian Cameron (Joseph Cotton): I knew from the first moment I saw you that you were dangerous to her.


Gregory Anton (Charles Boyer): For the last time, what do you want of me?

Brian Cameron (Joseph Cotton): The jewels – and justice. How does it feel, Bauer, to have planned and killed and tortured for something and then to know it’s been for nothing?

Gregory Anton (Charles Boyer): For nothing?


Paula Alquist Anton (Ingrid Bergman): 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 Alquist Anton (Ingrid Bergman): It isn’t here, you must have dreamed you put it there. Are you suggesting that this is a knife I hold in my hand? Have you gone mad, my husband?


Paula Alquist Anton (Ingrid Bergman): Yes, that’s it. [throws the knife away] I am mad. I’m always losing things and hiding things and I can never find them, I don’t know where I’ve put them.


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


Gregory Anton (Charles Boyer): I don’t ask you to understand me. Between us all the time were those jewels, like a fire – a fire in my brain that separated us – those jewels which I wanted all my life. I don’t know why… Goodbye, Paula.


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