I recently did a Top Six list for Prairie Dog about Hollywood’s terrible obsession with remakes. Specifically making unnecessary versions of great films. The following issue I did a list of good remakes but I forgot all about Gaslight.
Gaslight was originally a play and it was made into a movie in 1940 in Britain. Anton Walbrook, Diana Wynyard, and Frank Pettingell star in it. It’s a tense, suspense-filled psychological thriller about a young woman and her new husband who seems to be trying to drive her mad. MGM remade the movie in 1944 and it stars Ingrid Bergman, Charles Boyer, Joseph Cotten, and a extremely young Angela Lansbury in her screen debut. MGM actually tried to destroy all the copies of the 1940 British version so it couldn’t compete with their version. There isn’t even any trailers available for the film. Ingrid Bergman won her first Oscar for her performance.
The film starts off with a murder. A famous opera singer is killed and the singer’s niece interrupts the killer as he is searching for some valuable jewels. Years later the niece (Bergman) returns from abroad with her new husband Charles Boyer. They move into the opera singers old apartment. Things start going badly for Bergman. She starts losing things, only to have them show up in her handbag. At night there is scraping sounds from above Bergman’s room and the gaslight that powers the house dims. Only Joseph Cotten seems concerned about Bergman’s well being.
While Bergman is excellent in the remake and the film extremely moody and suspenseful, the original is a little more intense and it doesn’t give away the husband’s intentions as early in the film as the remake does. It is a toss up which is more sinister in the role – Anton Walbrook or Charles Boyer. Both are quite evil.