Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Gaslight (1944)

Ten years after the unsolved murder of a singing diva, her hot young niece (hot young Ingrid Bergman) moves back into the stylish London house where it happened, with her new husband (Charles Boyer). A dashing detective (dashing Joseph Cotten), stunned by the niece's resemblance to her aunt, reopens the cold case.

Gaslight is based on a play (Gas Light, or Angel Street), and had already been made into a movie four years earlier. Under the terms of the agreement, the producers ordered the destruction of all prints of the previous film. They failed to get them all, and the 1940 version has lapsed into the public domain. I saw it next.

Gas lights, that is, the lighting mechanism where natural gas was piped into houses for lighting purposes, certainly plays a large role in the story. Not only do they pepper the screen with shots of men lighting them, they even play into the story. Our protagonist becomes convinced that someone else is in the house because the lights dim, as if someone lit one elsewhere. They also add great ambiance and all gothic horror movies should have had them rather than foolish candelabras and sometimes even electric lights, totally ruining the mood. Had they not been expensive, and occasionally suffocate people, burn down houses, and even blow them up, they'd be a great addition to any home! Act now, supplies are limited!

I learned a few things from watching this movie. First, that I am actually capable of saying the words "Angela Lansbury was hot". What a naughty bit of crumpet, she was! At 17 she quit her job in a local shop and launched her movie career. Secondly, and more importantly, I learned that I apparently have absolutely no friggin' clue what film-noir is. I'm classifying this sucker as a mystery (although not a terribly mysterious one). Melodrama, sure. Entertaining and well made movie, you bet! Film-noir? Doesn't smell like it to me. There is a detective and an element of claustrophobia, but hard boiled, pessimistic, and minimalist? It's set in the fashionable district of Victorian/Edwardian London. You know, the stuff dreams are made of. AMRU 4.
"I knew from the first moment I saw you that you were dangerous to me."
"I knew from the first moment I saw you that you were dangerous to her."

No comments:

Post a Comment