Gaslight (1940/1944)


D: Thorold Dickinson

Anglo-American / British National (John Corfield)

UK 🇬🇧 1940

89 mins


W: A.R. Rawlinson & Bridget Boland [based on the play by Patrick Hamilton]

DP: Bernard Knowles

Ed: Sidney Cole

Mus: Richard Addinsell

Anton Walbrook (Paul Mallen), Diana Wynyard (Bella Mallen), Frank Pettingell (B.G. Rough), Cathleen Cordell (Nancy), Robert Newton (Vincent Ullswater)

Although a 1944 film adaptation of Patrick Hamilton’s play would be more widely known, this British adaptation struck first four years previously.

Set in Victorian London, a married couple move into a house in Pimlico Square where a woman was murdered 20 years earlier, but Bella Mallen is slowly convinced by her husband that she’s becoming insane so he can cover up his true identity as a criminal.

This version of the film sticks closer to the original source material, is significantly shorter but feels a little more stage-bound than the later remake.

The performances are excellent, especially from Diana Wynyard, in a role that would win an Oscar for Ingrid Bergman just four years later.


Diana Wynyard & Anton Wolbrook in Gaslight
Diana Wynyard & Anton Wolbrook in Gaslight


D: George Cukor

MGM (Arthur Hornblow, Jr.)

US 🇺🇸 1944

114 mins


W: John Van Druten, Walter Reisch & John L. Balderston [based on the play by Patrick Hamilton]

DP: Joseph Ruttenberg

Ed: Ralph E. Winters

Mus: Bronislau Kaper

PD: Cedric Gibbons

Cos: Irene

Charles Boyer (Gregory Anton), Ingrid Bergman (Paula Alquist Anton), Joseph Cotten (Brian Cameron), May Whitty (Bessie Thwaites), Angela Lansbury (Nancy Oliver), Barbara Everest (Elizabeth Tompkins)

This American film adaptation of the 1938 stage play deviates significantly from both the original source material and the 1940 British film, thanks to a larger budget and better known cast.  It’s also quite clear that there was some Hitchcock influence following the success of films such as Rebecca and Suspicion.

Ingrid Bergman stars as Paula Alquist, the niece of an opera singer who was murdered in Thornton Square ten years previously. In the years since, she meets and falls in love with a debonair Frenchman who convinces her to move into her aunt’s vacated property, where he slowly manipulates her into doubting her own sanity.

Ingrid Bergman won an Oscar for her performance, and it really is one of the best of her career, but the entire cast here are excellent, particularly Charles Boyer who is ambiguously both charming and sleazy as the manipulative Gregory Anton, as well as Angela Lansbury, making her screen debut as the coquettish young maid who helps him maintain his clandestine criminal activity.

The film also won an Oscar for its art direction, which is also impeccably done, with the sets becoming increasingly clustered as the film progresses to reflect Paula’s sense of claustrophobia and paranoia.

Certainly one of the best Hitchcock films not actually made by the master of suspense.


Charles Boyer & Ingrid Bergman in Gaslight
Charles Boyer & Ingrid Bergman in Gaslight