Time: 114 mins.
Rating: Not Rated
Won Academy Awards for Best Actress (Bergman) and Best Art Direction. Nominations for Best Actor (Boyer), Best Cinematography, Best Picture, Best Supporting Actress (Lansbury) and Best Screenplay.
I haven't seen all of Ingrid Bergman's movies, but I sure am glad I took the time to sit down and watch this one. I always wanted to see what they really meant by the expression "to gaslight someone." Believe me, after watching this movie, you'll hope it never happens to you. GASLIGHT is a classic film, not because it's old, but because the theme will never go out of style. As long as ulterior motives exist this film will continue to be relevant. Basically, Ingrid Bergman plays a young woman, Paula, who falls in love with Gregory, a Hungarian composer played by Charles Boyer, while travelling around Italy. She doesn't know him very well, but he sweeps her off her feet. He makes her feel safe, something she hasn't felt since her aunt, the person who raised her, was murdered years before. To make him happy and fulfill a lifelong dream of his, she agrees to marry him and return to London to live in the house where the murder took place. Maybe by returning she can finally put the horror behind her.
Unfortunately, even though they remove her aunts things to the attic, Paula is unhappy in the house. Gregory tries to make their first months in the house enjoyable, spending all his time with Paula. Eventually, he must return to working on his composing, but he's worried about her health. She's been so forgetful and tired. A beautiful day out to the Tower of London, ends unhappily when Paula loses a brooch Gregory gave to her earlier that day. She doesn't remember opening her bag, but she must have because the pin is nowhere to be found. Gregory is so unhappy they don't go out again for quite some time. So Paula becomes a prisoner in her own home. If she tries to go out on her own the servants tell Gregory, incurring his wraith. She begins to see and hear things, spending night after night alone in her room while Gregory is off at his office working. The lights dim even though there is supposedly no one else in the house.
She hears someone moving about upstairs, but that can't be because the upper floor has been sealed off. Things are constantly going missing, only to be found again either in her room or on her person, though she has no idea how they got there. Gregory becomes more and more impatient with her illness and forbids her to go out or talk to anyone. She will just make a spectacle of herself. When they finally do go out to a dinner party at an old friend of her aunts, she breaks down in the middle of the performance when he shows her that she has stolen his watch. He no longer has to convince her that she's mad, she wholeheartedly believes it. Luckily for her, she has a savior. An old friend who saw her at the Tower of London and is convinced that she is being railroaded into the insane asylum. He's right too. What she discovers about her husband is enough to make anyone swear off marriage for good.
This film is a perfect example of why long engagement are necessary. He never loved her, he was just using her to gain her family fortune. His plan would have worked to, if it hadn't been for that damn meddling old friend who also happens to work for Scotland Yard. This is a sinister film with brilliant acting by Ingrid Bergman. You can't help but feel sorry for her as she tries to retain some semblance of reality. She knows she's not crazy, but has to believe what her husband is telling her because there is no other rational answer. Boyer is just evil. Period. Joseph Cotton is smart and charming, something every rescuer should be. The joy of this film is not figuring out the mystery of her aunt's murder it's pretty apparant from the beginning who the killer is but watching Bergman's slow descent into madness. It's no wonder she won awards for this performance. If you ever get the chance, you should watch GASLIGHT. It'll make you a whole lot more paranoid, but Bergman is worth it.