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George Cukor
JCharles Boyer, Ingrid Bergman, Joseph Cotten
Writing Credits:
John Van Druten, Walter Reisch, John L. Balderston

Years after her aunt was murdered in her home, a young woman moves back into the house with her new husband and he uses devious methods to protect a dark secret.
Rated NR.

Aspect Ratio: 1.37:1
English DTS-HD MA Monaural
Supplements Subtitles:

Runtime: 114 min.
Price: $21.99
Release Date: 6/25/2019

• 1940 Version
• “Reflections on Gaslight” Featurette
• Newsreel
• 1946 Lux Radio Theater Broadcast
• Trailer


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Gaslight [Blu-Ray] (1944)

Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (July 8, 2019)

Given the current political climate, this seems like the perfect time to revisit 1944’s Gaslight. When her legendary opera-singing aunt dies, Paula Alquist (Ingrid Bergman) gets sent to Italy to pursue her own musical training.

While there, Paula meets Gregory Anton (Charles Boyer) and he woos her. Eventually the pair wed and move back to London.

They reside in the home Paula’s dead aunt used to own, and soon thereafter, strange activities torment her. These lead Paula to question her own sanity as well as the motivations of her husband.

In the genre of films Hitchcock didn’t direct but people think he did, Gaslight would reside high on the list. With its story of dark psychological torment and the presence of Bergman in the lead, it seems natural to assume Hitch shot the movie. Heck, it even feels reminiscent of Hitchcock’s 1940 Oscar-winner Rebecca at times.

While it lacks Hitchcock, Gaslight does feature another Hollywood legend behind the camera. George Cukor doesn’t possess the name value of Hitchcock, but he’s one of the best-regarded filmmakers of all-time as well.

In addition to Bergman and Boyer, Gaslight comes with other notables in the cast. We find Joseph Cotten as a man sympathetic to Paula’s plight, Dame May Whitty as a neighbor, and a teenaged Angela Lansbury as a maid.

Add to that the titular concept that long ago entered the public lexicon and I went into Gaslight with fairly high expectations. Though I think it works, it doesn’t quite live up to those hopes.

My main issue with Gaslight comes from its relative lack of suspense. From early in the story, we see Anton as a deceitful schemer, one who seems treacherous from minute one.

Ideally, Gaslight would paint him in a more likable light and create more of a mystery. We’d debate whether Anton worked to control and bedevil Paula or if she really did suffer from mental concerns.

That doesn’t occur, as we feel tipped off to Anton’s game early. Typically a story like this would come with a big reveal, but given our foreknowledge of Anton’s game, no real surprises take place.

Despite the lack of real suspense, Gaslight manages to maintain our interest, and the actors do well with the characters as written. I don’t know if Bergman deserved the Oscar for her performance, but she manages to cover Paula’s emotional shifts, and Boyer proves appropriately slimy as Anton.

These factors create a reasonably engaging little thriller. It lacks the punch I’d hoped to find but I still find it to entertain for the most part.

The Disc Grades: Picture B+/ Audio B-/ Bonus B

Gaslight appears in an aspect ratio of 1.37:1 on this Blu-ray Disc. This became a highly satisfying presentation.

Overall sharpness worked well, with only a smidgen of softness in a couple of wider shots. Most of the film boasted fine delineation and accuracy.

Neither jaggies nor moiré effects impacted the proceedings, and the presence of light grain meant it seemed unlikely that digital noise reduction came into play. Edge haloes remained absent and I saw no print flaws.

Blacks seemed deep and rich, while contrast gave the movie a fine silvery sheen. Low-light shots brought us nice smoothness and clarity. This turned into a more than satisfactory image.

I felt the same about the high-quality DTS-HD MA monaural soundtrack, as it held up nicely for its age. Music and effects didn’t boast great range or punch, but both came across accurate enough and they lacked distortion or problems.

As usual for older recordings, speech came across as a little tinny, but the lines remained fairly concise and only a few spots of edginess occurred. The mix lacked hiss, noise or other problems. This turned into a more than acceptable mix for its era.

A few extras fill out the disc, and we find the original 1940 British version of Gaslight. Directed by Thorold Dickinson, this edition runs one hour, 23 minutes, 57 seconds and stars Anton Walbrook and Diana Wynyard.

Expect many differences between the 1940 and 1944 versions. They share plenty of similarities, of course, but they diverge in more ways than I’d anticipate.

Both have their pros and cons, but I think I prefer the 1940 version. It’s more nuanced in some ways, and the shorter running time means it feels more efficient. Both work well, but the 1940 edition just seems tighter.

With Reflections on Gaslight, we get a 13-minute, 50-second program hosted by actor Ingrid Bergman’s daughter Pia Lindstrom. It also includes comments from actor Angela Lansbury.

We learn about cast and performances, music, sets and production design, and general thoughts. It’s nice to hear from Lansbury but this show doesn’t boast a lot of depth.

A newsreel titled Oscars for Movie Stars spans one minute, 32 seconds. It appears here because we see Ingrid Bergman accept her trophy for Gaslight. It’s a fun addition.

In addition to the film’s trailer, we locate a 1946 Lux Radio Theatre broadcast of Gaslight. With a running time of 59 minutes, 40 seconds, it brings back Bergman and Charles Boyer to reprise their film roles.

Like most of these radio adaptations, this one pares down a lot of material, but it works pretty well. What it loses in visual impact it gains in storytelling clarity. The radio version works better than most.

A film whose title entered the vernacular, Gaslight occasionally suffers from telegraphed plot points. However, it manages to become a reasonably taut thriller despite those issues. The Blu-ray boasts terrific picture quality, acceptable audio and a nice array of bonus features. This winds up as a fairly enjoyable tale.

Viewer Film Ratings: 3 Stars Number of Votes: 1
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