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GASLIGHT

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1944ís GASLIGHT ($20) is a thoroughly enjoyable movie thriller from the golden age of Hollywood. Directed by George Cukor and produced by MGM, this version of GASLIGHT is a meticulously crafted gem that takes its time building up the audienceís anticipation, as to what will be revealed at the filmís climax. Set in Victorian London, GASLIGHT opens with the murder of a famous opera singer in her home. The singerís orphaned niece Paula Alquist (Ingrid Bergman) is traumatized by the crime and sent off to Italy to live and finish her musical education. While in Italy, Paula meets and falls in love with her accompanist Gregory Anton (Charles Boyer), and the two soon marry.

Because Gregory has always dreamed of living in London, Paula suggests they move into the home that she inherited from her murdered aunt. Unfortunately, the moment the newlyweds move into their London home, Paula begins a downward spiral of memory lapses and hallucinations. Things only become worse after Gregory confronts Paula about her strange behavior- is she really losing her mind in the home where her aunt was murdered, or is something even more sinister afoot? Bergman took home an Academy Award for her engaging portrayal of a woman who comes to question her own sanity. In addition to Ingrid Bergman and Charles Boyer, the cast of 1944ís GASLIGHT also features Joseph Cotton as Scotland Yard detective Brian Cameron, who wants to reopen the notorious murder case, plus Dame May Whitty as the nosy next door neighbor, who can never seem to get across the threshold of the newlywedsí door, and finally, an eighteen year old Angela Lansbury in her screen debut.

Warner Home Video has made 1944ís GASLIGHT available on DVD in a marvelous looking black and white transfer that frames the film in its proper 1.37:1 full screen aspect ratio. The image appears sharp and very nicely defined, which brings out the glossy beauty of Joseph Ruttenbergís glamorous Oscar nominated cinematography (not to mention the beautiful period settings and costumes). Blacks are deep and inky, while the whites are clean and totally stable. Contrast is excellent, as is the filmís grayscale. The film elements used for the transfer display relatively few signs of age. There is a noticeable grain structure during much of the movie, but it is never severe and serves to give the presentation a rather film-like appearance. Digital compression artifacts are never a cause for concern. The Dolby Digital monaural soundtrack is very good for its age, with most of the noise and hiss cleaned up in the mastering process. Dialogue is completely intelligible, while the music is smooth and free from distortion. A French language track has also provided, in addition to English, French and Spanish subtitles.

Music underscores the interactive menus, which allow one access to the standard scene selection and set up features, as well as the supplemental materials. The chief supplement on the DVD is the original 1940 British version of GASLIGHT, which is offered on the opposite side of the disc. Taken from the same source material, Patrick Hamiltonís play Angel Street, 1940ís GASLIGHT is a tighter more suspenseful execution of the same basic story, and its inclusion here is certain to delight fans of the glamorous Hollywood version. While the presentation of the British GASLIGHT isnít quite as clean and free from signs of age as the later version, it is still in good condition and the transfer provides very little to complain about. Also included on the DVD is Reflections On Gaslight, a thirteen-minute program with Bergman's daughter, Pia Lindstrom and Angela Lansbury, who discuss the film and its legendary leading lady. Newsreel footage from the 1944 Academy Awards, plus a theatrical trailer for the 1944 version of the film close out the DVDís supplemental materials.

GASLIGHT is another film classic that has been given a terrific presentation on DVD by the fine folks at Warner Home Video. Not only does 1944ís GASLIGHT look terrific, but the DVD also offers the best kind of supplement- the original 1940 version of the film! If you are a film buff, then GASLIGHT is a disc you will want to add to your collection. Recommended.

 

GASLIGHT 


Gaslight (1944)

 


DVD reviews are Copyright © 2004 THE CINEMA LASER and may not be copied or reprinted without the written consent of the publisher.
THE CINEMA LASER is written, edited and published by Derek M. Germano.


 

 

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