Author Topic: Movie of the Week: Gaslight (1944)  (Read 5431 times)

FroHam X

  • Objectively Awesome
  • *****
  • Posts: 17792
  • “By any seeds necessary.”
    • justAtad
Movie of the Week: Gaslight (1944)
« on: November 06, 2011, 09:21:03 AM »


Have at it!
"We didn't clean the hamster's cage, the hamster's cage cleaned us!"

Can't get enough FroHam? Read more of my musings at justAtad

MartinTeller

  • FAB
  • Objectively Awesome
  • *****
  • Posts: 15399
  • martinteller.wordpress.com
    • my movie blog
Re: Movie of the Week: Gaslight (1944)
« Reply #1 on: November 06, 2011, 12:12:19 PM »
My old mini-reviews:

Quote
(rewatch 9/18/04) One of those movies that's a bit frustrating to watch because the bad guy is horribly evil you just can't wait to see him get it.  Charles Boyer plays one of the nastiest villains you'll ever see.  Ingrid Bergman perhaps overdoes her helplessness, but makes up for it during the exceptionally satisfying ending.  Rating: 9

Quote
(rewatch 3/19/10) This movie does have its flaws.  Ingrid Bergman is too hysterical and pathetic, the beginning and the ending are too drawn out, and the surprises are none too surprising (although it's hard to judge on a third viewing... they might have been more surprising the first time).  But I just love how it's plotted, I always get wrapped up in it, and so even being aware of its shortcomings it's still a favorite.  Charles Boyer is such an evil bastard, and his plan is so CINECAST!ing devious that you almost wish you could try it out on someone.  My wife would never fall for it, of course.  It'd be hard to imagine any woman falling for it nowadays.  I think a modern version with the genders reversed would be interesting, actually.  The 1940 adaptation is also on the DVD, supposedly it doesn't have some of the problems this version has.  I'll have to watch it sometime, but not today.  Rating: 9


I'll be watching the 1940 version today, will post my thought later.

george96

  • Senior Member
  • ****
  • Posts: 785
Re: Movie of the Week: Gaslight (1944)
« Reply #2 on: November 06, 2011, 12:22:14 PM »
I thought the 1940 version was just a tad better. It's less predictable, more edgy. Both are very good films, though!

verbALs

  • Godfather
  • ******
  • Posts: 9452
  • Snort Life-DOR
Re: Movie of the Week: Gaslight (1944)
« Reply #3 on: November 06, 2011, 01:52:04 PM »
I'm waiting for someone to tell me the origin of this "oh darling you forgot your purse/ my watch it's gone/ where's that picture C'MON WHERE'S THAT PICTURE?" storyline. It pre-occupied me the whole way through. No, I thought Bergman does a stand-up job with an hysterical role...pre-cursor to Notorious. Now, Joan Fontaine in the role, that's an idea...now why would I think that?
« Last Edit: November 06, 2011, 01:54:18 PM by verbALs »
I used to encourage everyone I knew to make art; I don't do that so much anymore. - Banksy

MartinTeller

  • FAB
  • Objectively Awesome
  • *****
  • Posts: 15399
  • martinteller.wordpress.com
    • my movie blog
Re: Movie of the Week: Gaslight (1944)
« Reply #4 on: November 06, 2011, 03:43:16 PM »
Gaslight (1940) - This really isn't a bad movie, it's just that the remake improves on it in almost every way.  A full half hour shorter, it begs the question: is it better to slowly build tension, or cut to the chase?  While I didn't particularly mind that the entire courtship between the husband and wife was missing (i.e., most of the first act) I did feel like this was a little too rushed, getting straight to the beats of the plot without building that sense of dread and helplessness.  Another thing the remake does (and I have no idea what the original text is like) is give the husband much better motivation to marry the woman in the first place.  As for the casting, between Charles Boyer and Anton Walbrook, I'll call it a draw.  Maybe even a slight edge to Walbrook, who seems a little bit nastier.  Diana Wynyard is okay, but no match at all for Ingrid Bergman.  Bergman just has a far more compelling screen presence, especially in the finale.  Frank Pettingell vs. Joseph Cotten is a trickier comparison, because the characters are completely different.  I think I like the character more in the original, but the performance more in the remake.  Is it unfair to make these comparisons, particularly since this one came first?  Yes, but I can't help it.  One version is far more well-known and well-regarded, and for good reason.  Again, not a bad movie, but the 1944 version does it so much better, and leaves little reason to watch this one.  Rating: Good

Wilson

  • Elite Member
  • *****
  • Posts: 3095
Re: Movie of the Week: Gaslight (1944)
« Reply #5 on: November 07, 2011, 06:28:47 AM »
Watched this last night and found myself really enjoying it.  Bergman is pretty fantastic, and the rest of the supporting cast are pretty stellar too.

As mentioned, the 'surprises' are none too surprising, which was a bit of a letdown as it telegraphed pretty much everything.

But that's really just a small complaint, I thorougly enjoyed it.  Great villain, strong performances from all of the cast and damn fantastic finale makes this an excellent watch and one i'm glad to have finally seen.

Re: Verbals, doesn't the story start with her finding the letter that implicates his? From that point, she knows too much and it becomes his mision to a) keep her off the scent, b) convince her that he's not looking around upstairs and c) eventually remove her from his life, while allowing him to keep the house.

verbALs

  • Godfather
  • ******
  • Posts: 9452
  • Snort Life-DOR
Re: Movie of the Week: Gaslight (1944)
« Reply #6 on: November 07, 2011, 07:26:00 AM »
I could see that either way. If she had suspicions wouldn't his blind siding make her more suspicious?  Anyway we agree on Bergman. I've got a review to post it might explain how I feel more fully.
I used to encourage everyone I knew to make art; I don't do that so much anymore. - Banksy

oldkid

  • Objectively Awesome
  • *****
  • Posts: 17420
  • Hi there! Feed me worlds!
Re: Movie of the Week: Gaslight (1944)
« Reply #7 on: November 07, 2011, 11:05:22 AM »
I thought all the performances were stellar, and that Bergman was perfect.  I don't think she was too hysterical, because she had placed her trust in this man she loves and she couldn't imagine him turning on her, so it must be her.  If she is losing her mind, then she would be depressed and isolated.  And the turn around at the end was just perfect.

I don't know how great the film as a whole was, but it was worth watching if only for the wonderful acting.  I love how Cotton holds back and doesn't charge in immediately.

Did you notice that Cotton, who works in Scotland Yard, has a strong American accent?  And Bergman didn't sound very British.  Or have a hint of Italian.  But those are minor points.  Everyone did so well, that accents are easily dismissed.
"It's not art unless it has the potential to be a disaster." Bansky

verbALs

  • Godfather
  • ******
  • Posts: 9452
  • Snort Life-DOR
Re: Movie of the Week: Gaslight (1944)
« Reply #8 on: November 07, 2011, 12:36:57 PM »
Swimming against the tide again it seems.....

Gaslight

I had planned to watch Rebecca again sometime soon. This film so strongly resembled that basic premise, a woman psychologically dominated by the ghost of another in a grand house, that I will put it off for a while. Olivier's ambiguous character so central to that film working, sets a standard that Boyer does not live up to. It wouldn't be a spoiler to say that from very early on, his suspicious manipulation is too overt. Lots of "Oh Darling, can't you remember me saying…." etc. His desire for diamonds as he dribbles over The Crown Jewels at The Tower of London followed closely by a reveal on missing jewels, just isn't good suspense direction.

One claim for the greatness of Howard Hawks is that he may have the reputation as the great Hollywood studio director- the "uberhack", but whichsoever genre he was asked to engage in, he performed with consummate professionalism. Gaslight has George Cukor in charge and just like Stanley Donen's misfire with Charade, he seems to be struggling with pace and tone, so important in suspense.

Both the heavy-handedness of Boyer and Angela Lansbury's colossally insolent servant have them acting in a horror film while Ingrid Bergman is doing her best to be her very Hitchcockian heroine. She does have the class to be pushed around psychologically without being a nervous wreck, as Notorious shows. Cukor and Donen are two directors who define the word "Gay" in the old fashioned Hollywood way, so dabbling in the dark arts and even employing two suspense heavyweights like Bergman and Cary Grant, oh yes and Joseph Cotten in these films is too near the knuckle.

At some point in time, the original of this film or this story in general, had to have been made and maybe this is it. It feels incredibly derivative. On its own this isn't a problem but I found it poorly executed. This is listed as a mystery on imdb, but there isn't any mystery. A suspense film can have all the mysteries revealed early on, like Notorious, but still be taut. Gaslight would have to stand as a suspense film since it doesn't keep its cards close to its chest to be a mystery. Hardly any suspense to be had, and I'm not going mad.
I used to encourage everyone I knew to make art; I don't do that so much anymore. - Banksy

MartinTeller

  • FAB
  • Objectively Awesome
  • *****
  • Posts: 15399
  • martinteller.wordpress.com
    • my movie blog
Re: Movie of the Week: Gaslight (1944)
« Reply #9 on: November 07, 2011, 12:52:32 PM »
I think there is suspense (or perhaps tension is the better word) in that you don't know how it's going to escalate, what lengths Boyer will go to, how Bergman will catch on, how Cotten will get involved (and possibly even get hurt in the process).  Yes, Boyer's motivations could have been hidden for a while longer, but showing those cards early doesn't really ruin it for me.  I dunno, if you don't feel tension while watching it, then nothing will fix that, but I feel it.

Funny, when you made your oblique Joan Fontaine comments earlier, I assumed you meant Suspicion, not Rebecca.  I see the similarities, but I wouldn't say Gaslight is about "a woman psychologically dominated by the ghost of another in a grand house".  And Olivier doesn't manipulate her so much as just shut her out.  Is Mrs. Danvers the Boyer character?