After moving into the house where her aunt was murdered,
a newly married wife begins to think she's going steadily insane.
Directed by George Cukor
Written by John Van Druten, Walter Reisch, John L. Balderston
Starring Charles Boyer, Ingrid Bergman, Joseph Cotten,
Angela Lansbury, Barbara Everest, May Whitty
Remake of 1940's Gaslight
Based on the stage play by Patrick Hamilton
Oscar Wins - Best Actress (Ingrid Bergman), Best Art Direction
Oscar Nominations - Best Picture, Best Actor (Charles Boyer),
Best Supporting Actress (Angela Lansbury),
Best Adapted Screenplay, Best Cinematography
Gaslighting is a term I think most of us are familiar with. It's a form of psychological abuse in which one person manipulates another into thinking that they are losing their mind. It's a sick thing to screw with someone's sanity, especially when you have something to gain from it. That term originated from this movie, 1944's Gaslight, which sees newlywed Paula Anton (Bergman) manipulated into insanity by her husband Gregory (Boyer), who is not what she thinks he is. You can kind of figure out exactly what's going on pretty early if you're paying attention, but seeing everything unfold is still awfully rewarding thanks to the great performances.
Paula meets Gregory abroad, and after they marry, they move into the London home that Paula's aunt left her. Paula's aunt was strangled to death in that house, and the killer was never caught. Paula has a lot of issues with that house, but Gregory insists they move in. Steadily, Paula begins to forget things, then lose things, then (according to her husband) hallucinate. He doesn't let her leave the house because he insists she's too ill to function. You can sense that something is up, and you're just waiting for Paula to snap out of it or stand up for herself. It does eventually happen, and it's the best scene in the movie.
Ingrid Bergman won her first of three Oscars for this film, and it was well-deserved. She plays a truly emotionally fragile woman who summons a strength she didn't know she had. She was one of the most talented performers of the 20th century, and I look forward to checking out the rest of her work. Gaslight is a great start for anyone else seeking to do the same.