Gaslight (1940) B+
The play upon which the movie is based premiered in London in l938 and was a hit. In the U.S., on Broadway, it was called “Angel Street,” and ran for two years.
The English film version (l940), starring Anton Walbrook and Dianna Wynyard, was directed by Thorold Dickinson. MGM bought the rights to the British film and withdrew it from circulation (rumor that MGM destroyed all existing copies). The temporary suppression of the 1940 film caused a lot of resentment among members of the British film industry.
In one of her best roles, Diana Wynyard plays Bella Mallen, a rich lady who marries the older, more urbane but also calculating Paul (Anton Walbrook, later associated with the ballet film, “The Red Shoes), who’s after her wealth and is determined to drive her into insanity.
The British film is a good psychological thriller, but I prefer George Cukor’s 1944 melodrama, with Ingrid Bergman (who won an Oscar) in the Wynyard part. Cukor’s film, half an hour longer, possesses richness in detail, smoother, more substantial structure, and greater psychological depth.
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