Wednesday, 18 December 2013

DVD review: Gaslight

Upon acquiring the rights to Patrick Hamilton’s play Gas Light, MGM set about wiping the slate in preparation for their George Cukor-directed, Ingrid Bergman-starring 1944 adaptation. Unfortunately, that meant suppressing almost to elimination a British version made four years prior, with this handsome restoration – the first time the film has been available on DVD – only possible thanks to a single print preserved by its director Thorold Dickinson, and later gifted to the BFI.

While it lacks its Hollywood successor’s budget and glamour, the limitations rather suit the tale’s clammy claustrophobia, as newlywed Bella (a fragile Diana Wynward) is made to question her sanity by husband Paul (a cruel Anton Walbrook). Despite an undisguised staginess and sometimes clunky structure, the material still unnerves, with the abruptness of the opening murder and the mind games of the last act proving particularly effective, making this of interest to more than just film historians.

Out now

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