Tonight’s movie is a truly brilliant film with a creepy but engaging plot. ‘Gaslight’ was a movie made in the UK in 1940 and is based on a stage play of the same name that was popular in the 1930’s. The plot revolves around a sinister foreign man who marries a wealthy heiress and moves into a house in London ‘s Pimlico Square which had previously been the scene of a gruesome robbery and murder 20 years previous to the new occupants moving in. The man, Paul Mallen played by Anton Walbrook has a wife Bella, played by Diana Wynyard who is of delicate mind and is verging on the border of madness.
However, as the film progresses we see that Bella is not completely insane but that someone is trying to drive her insane and that it might be related in some way to the murder that caused the house to be abandoned for so many years. The title ‘Gaslight’ is taken from the scenes of how Bella notices that the gaslight in her room dims whenever there are footsteps to be heard in the disused upper two floors of the house.
This is a truly brilliant film that is a crisp deeply rooted psychological thriller and one that is well worth watching. It’s also a film that we are lucky to have a print of because there was an American version of this film made in 1944 and the makers of the US version tried, in order to keep more trade coming for their own version, to have all copies of the British 1940 version destroyed. Thankfully these cultural wreckers didn’t succeed in their aims and we have today the opportunity to watch this brilliant thriller that chronicles an abusive relationship, long buried secrets, greed and a brutal murder.