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In the foggy and dark London air,
There’s a horror at 9 Thornton Square:
A singer’s been strangled;
Her things are all tangled,
Yet all her possessions are there.
 
Her niece is one Paula Alquist,
Who is escorted out in the mist.
She is taken to dwell
And learn opera as well
With a maestro who’s glad to assist.
 
She meets Gregory, who composes.
Though a stranger, he quickly proposes,
He’s French; what’s to check?
So she says, what the heck?
She needs loving, so why oppose his.
 
By an obvious rule that’s unwritten,
One will do anything when she’s smitten.
When Greg says he would care
For a house in a square,
They choose Paula’s aunt’s home in Great Britain.
 
They lock her aunt’s things all upstairs,
So that she won’t be subject to scares
From that night long ago,
But it seems, even so,
Paula’s edgy, yet nobody cares.
 
She’s forgetful, which Greg’s quick to mention,
So often it raises her tension.
Her own husband claims
That she steals picture frames,
And his charges cause her apprehension.
 
At night, while her husband is out,
She hears somebody walking about
Upstairs; the lights fade,
And it isn’t the maid,
So her sanity now is in doubt.
 
She feels like her house is a trap.
Greg thinks that she’s ready to snap.
Paula isn’t consoled,
For Greg’s callous and cold,
And he only makes her feel like crap.
 
But one Brian, who’s from Scotland Yard,
Takes notice that Greg acts so hard.
His investigation
Leads to accusation,
And Brian becomes Paula’s guard.
 
He proves that she still has her brain
And that Greg is the cause of her strain.
His rebukes and his claims
Were a bunch of mind games,
In the hopes he would drive her insane.
 
Their marriage was only a tool,
All his tactics and being so cruel.
When the lights seemed to dim,
It was really just him,
In the attic in search of a jewel.
 
For Gregory is Sergis Bauer,
Who killed Paula’s aunt with his power.
He wanted her gems,
But he couldn’t find them
So has searched for them many an hour.
 
That night, though, he meets with success.
They were hidden, sewn onto a dress.
But he’s caught by police,
And his wife finds release
Now that he cannot cause her distress.
___________________
 

Gaslight is an old black-and-white film that earned seven Oscar nominations when it was released in 1944, winning two. A remake of a much lesser-known 1940 British movie, it is clearly based off a play with nearly every character converging at the very end. Like 12 Angry Men, most of the action happens in limited spaces, mainly a few lovely Victorian rooms, with only a couple outside scenes added to relieve the claustrophobia. In some ways, Gaslight angers me much like Mr. Smith Goes to Washington did, because Gregory gets away with his constant manipulation of his wife throughout most of the film. It isn’t until the final act that his deception is fully revealed, but, unlike the sudden happy ending of Mr. Smith, Paula is able to get back at her evil husband with some mind games of her own, creating a satisfying serves-you-right kind of ending.

Ingrid Bergman is excellent as her character’s sanity is slowly chipped away, and she definitely deserved her Oscar win. Charles Boyer is sinister, but his malevolence is a bit too obvious due to his mannerisms and coldness. Also, while the film features Angela Lansbury in her first role, I must say that her presence throughout adds little to the film and seemed unnecessary overall. Despite some flaws, such as Joseph Cotton’s lacking a British accent and a laughable scene in which the cameraman is clearly seen reflected in a window, Gaslight is nonetheless a classic mystery.

Best line: (Paula, when she taunts Gregory at the end) “How can a mad woman help her husband to escape?”

 

Artistry: 7
Characters/Actors: 7
Entertainment: 4
Visual Effects: N/A
Originality: 6
Watchability: 4
 
TOTAL: 28 out of 60
 

Tomorrow: #338: Summer Wars

© 2014 S. G. Liput

 

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