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DVD Reviews:  Gaslight (PG)

The Final Say!

Review Score
Reviewed by Matthew Kirkcaldie
Distributed by:
Warner Bros.
Running Time: 109 Minutes





Rushed off her feet with a whirlwind romance and a quick wedding, Paula Alquist (Ingrid Bergman) is surprised when her new husband Gregory Anton (Charles Boyer) wants to live in the house which belonged to her aunt, an operatic star murdered ten years earlier. They arrive and begin looking through her stored memorabilia and personal effects, but the discovery of a letter received just before her death sends Gregory into a fit of rage, which he covers quickly. As time passes, their marriage and Paula’s mental state deteriorate, and the couple live in a kind of suspended animation inside the house, talking only to the cook (Barbara Everest) and the maid (Angela Lansbury’s first film role, four decades before the irritating Murder She Wrote). 

Of course, everything is not quite what it seems, and during the evenings when Gregory leaves to go to his “work”, Paula sees the gas lighting flicker and hears noises from the boarded-up top floor of the house. Gregory’s mind games convince her that she is going insane, but when a Scotland Yard detective (Joseph Cotton) notices the couple on an outing, he becomes interested in the decade-old mystery of the singer’s murder. The film’s dramatic climax weaves these threads into a powerful conclusion as we find out the characters’ true natures.


As a film, Gaslight is quite dated (it’s sixty years old, in fact) and the black and white, full-frame, mono presentation is in keeping with its age. The acting is occasionally over the top as well, and may put a 2004 audience off the genuinely tense storyline and the quality of the performances (Bergman won her first Oscar for the role). Given its age, the print of the film is excellent, with great detail and minimal dirt or grain.


The quality of the audio is likewise excellent.


The extras are perfunctory – the trailer, a short piece about the making of the film hosted by Bergman’s (other) daughter Pia Lindstrom, including Lansbury’s interesting comments, and a newsreel of the Academy Awards winners from 1945, which is pretty goofy. Gaslight isn’t for everyone, and won’t find a place as a home theatre demo disc, but when you meet it on its own terms it’s an entertaining and tight piece of film-making.

  • Featurette: Reflections on Gaslight

  • Academy Awards winners 1945 newsreel


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