You’ve probably heard the term “gaslight”, or perhaps the verb form of it, “gaslighting”, but you might be surprised to learn the origin of the word. gas lamp was a movie long before it became a popular term to describe a type of emotional abuse that leaves victims constantly doubting themselves and their reality. The 1944 movie gas lamp is still a classic of the suspense genre to this day. It deserves this reputation not only because of its tense plot and atmosphere, but also because of the incredible cast that brings the story to life. Ingrid Bergmanjust two years after her superb role as Ilsa in casablancaplays Paula and Angela Lansbury (yes, The Murder She Wrote(Jessica Fletcher herself) plays Nancy.
Bergman won an Oscar for her performance, and Lansbury was nominated for supporting actress. Charles Boyer also received an Oscar nomination for her performance in gas lamp. Although Boyer might not be as household a name today as Lansbury or Bergman, he starred in more than 80 films during his career and regularly played romantic lead roles in the 1930s and 1940s. Lady May Whitty plays the chatty comedic backup neighbor and Joseph Cotten of Citizen Kane and A history of Philadelphia fame also has a supporting role. A history of Philadelphiathe director Georges Cukor was also director of gas lamp. Cukor ultimately won an Oscar for directing my lovely lady.
gas lamp was nominated for an impressive seven Oscars and won Best Lead Actress and Best Art Direction in a Black-and-White Motion Picture. gas lamp lost the best picture to I go my waya musical starring bing crosby. The film continues to be a beloved and respected classic and in 2019 the Library of Congress selected it for inclusion in the National Film Registry. Now, if you’re wondering how to watch this classic movie, here’s a handy guide that will answer that question.
What is Gaslight?
Settle victorian london, gas lamp tells the story of Paula (Ingrid Bergman), a beautiful young woman who, after a meteoric courtship, returns to her childhood home with her new husband, Gregory (Charles Boyer). Paula finds the return home more upsetting than expected as it is the first time she has been in the house since her Aunt Alice was murdered. Alice, a wealthy and world famous singer, had raised Paula until her untimely and violent death. The following is a psychological thriller which plays on the public’s mind as much as it does on Paula’s sanity.
Gregory quickly but subtly transforms the servants, Nancy (played by Angela Lansbury) and Elizabeth (played by Barbara Everest), against Paula. When Paula tells Gregory she’s worried Nancy doesn’t like her, Gregory insists it’s just in Paula’s head and it “hurts.” [him] when she’s sick and whimsical. Gregory tells Paula how worried he is for her, accusing her of being strangely suspicious and distracted since they arrived in London. Distressed, Paula tearfully confesses to Gregory that she “is beginning to not trust [her] memory at all. Even when she is alone in the house, Paula continues to see the gaslights in rooms dim and flicker, which only happens when someone adjusts the lights in another room. It isn’t long before Paula lives in fear of herself and her home, convinced by Gregory that her behavior is too bizarre and inappropriate for her to even appear in public.
Paula’s transformation from a woman who casually vacations alone to a woman afraid to even leave her house without her husband is devastating to watch as Bergman shows why she won an Oscar for this performance. Charles Boyer’s Gregory Anton is a villain for the ages, effortlessly manipulative and casually cruel. The movie’s title being used as a word to describe a specific type of manipulation isn’t all that surprising considering how perfectly the movie depicts a classic example.
Is there a trailer for Gaslight?
gas lampThe trailer for is a fascinating look at how it was originally presented to audiences: “the strange story of an international criminal’s love for a great beauty.”
Where can you stream Gaslight?
Good news for anyone who hasn’t had a chance to watch this classic yet, gas lamp is available on several streaming services. The movie is streaming for free on The Roku Channel, which offers a surprisingly rich library of classic films at no cost. gas lamp is also available for rental or digital purchase on Amazon. The lesser known 1940 British version of gas lamp is also available to rent on Amazon and stream on Roku as well. If you prefer physical media, gas lamp is available for purchase on DVD or Blu-ray. It could make a fantastic gift for all the classic movie buffs in your life.
More classics like Gaslight you can watch now
fear of heights (1958): This paranoia-soaked classic directed by Alfred Hitchcock centers on Scottie (James Stewart), a man suffering from vertigo and a crippling fear of heights following a traumatic accident. Scottie accepts private detective work while keeping tabs on Madeleine (Kim Novak), a woman whose husband claims she may be possessed. The tension slowly but inexorably mounts as Scottie follows Madeleine through San Francisco, finding more and more evidence that something very strange is going on. fear of heights is streaming for free on Peacock and is available for purchase on DVD from Amazon and other DVD sellers.
casablanca (1942): If Ingrid Bergman’s emotional tour de force in gas lamp are you curious to see more of his work then be sure to check it out casablanca. Bergman is fantastic as Ilsa, a woman who tries to flee to America with her husband Victor (Paul Henreid), a Czech war hero and resistance leader. With Nazis on their trail, they arrive in Casablanca where their paths cross Rick, Ilsa’s cynical ex who claims to “stick [his] the neck for anyone. Played by Humphrey Bogart, Rick Blaine remains one of the most quoted and misquoted characters in film. Fantastic performances are delivered by the entire cast, from leads to Pierre Lorre, Conrad Veidt, Dooley Wilson, and other supporting actors. This 1942 film about love, sacrifice and idealism along the “crooked, circuitous, refugee path” out of Nazi-occupied Europe and into America is a must-see. casablanca is streaming on HBO Max and is available to rent or purchase on Amazon.
One thousand nine hundred and eighty four (1984): This adapted from George OrwellThe classic novel by won Best British Film of the Year at the 1984 Evening Standard British Film Awards. injured john plays Winston Smith, a man who struggles to think and love in a country that, under the watchful eyes of its leader “Big Brother”, constantly rewrites its past and polices its citizens so carefully that they are rarely even capable of thoughts that are not approved by Big Brother. Winston Smith’s desperate struggle against a system that wants him to doubt his every thought and memory is an intense and thoughtful look at how totalitarian systems and rulers enlighten their own citizens. One thousand nine hundred and eighty four can be rented or purchased on Amazon.
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