First Impressions : Gaslight (1944)

“If I were not mad, I could have helped you. Whatever you had done, I could have pitied and protected you. But because I am mad, I hate you. Because I am mad, I have betrayed you. And because I’m mad, I’m rejoicing in my heart, without a shred of pity, without a shred of regret, watching you go with glory in my heart!”- Gaslight

Honest! I did not mean to be writing about another George Cukor film but I see it has ended up that way! It just so happened one of the early Cukor films that I had yet to see was Gaslight from 1944. I was reminded of this from a very non cinematic source. It was a Saturday morning and I was listening to my favorite inspirational podcast, Dear Sugars when the hosts used the phrase, ” You’ve been gaslighted.” It suddenly dawned on me that I had not seen the film that this phrase had originated from. I rushed Monday morning to my school library where I found one copy of Gaslight left just for me! Yay! I excitedly tweeted when I got home about my new find, and I got an outpouring of wonderful classic film fans telling me how I was in for a real treat.

After the film was over I found myself quite agitated inside and anxious. I was in my little bed with calm candles around me and a cup of tea so how come I felt this way?! The power of the movies ladies and gentleman! That Charles Boyer in all his gaslighting behavior made me feel that way! This is one of those movies that if you are paying attention really makes you feel how the main character is feeling right from the start. I felt Ingrid Bergman’s hesitation at the beginning when she is persuaded so quickly to get married to this mad man, Charles Boyer, as well as feeling the enormous stress of being deluded. Cukor’s direction seemed like it could have been very simple. I felt that his creation of having the set be so claustrophobic in design really made everyone feel a sense of anxiety instantly without him having to say too much.


I cannot not mention Cotten! Thank heaven for that dapper, Joseph Cotten who saves the day! I am used to seeing him play dark, difficult men so it was very nice to see him this kind of part, where he is so nice and seeks ultimate truth in everybody. How refreshing it was to see Cotten in the end not get the girl completely. We don’t really know friends.  Yes, he saves the day, but do they go riding into the sunset… He very sincerely ends by saying that he is just next door if she ever needs him. THAT’S ALL. I quite like these mysterious endings which allow me to create what happened next. Flash-forward to My Fair Lady and Rex Harrison just says to Audrey Hepburn,  ” fetch me my slippers”, and the film ends. That’s right, Cukor, I have caught on to your slightly ambiguous romantic endings.319c35101e306ea35dfb2829caa05442.png

What have I ultimately learned from this film:  Any male suitor better think twice before they think they will ever gaslight me! Thanks, George Cukor. – miss. classic film


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