Gaslight (1940) Original Murder Mystery & Psychological Thriller Mayhem

Gaslight (1940) Aton Walbrook Diana Wynyard movie poster thriller

Something dreadful is afoot at number 12 Pimlico Square. This is my review for Gaslight (1940)

What’s going down?

There’s been a brutal murder and a terrifying robbery. Fast forward 10 years and the once vacant and decaying terrace house has new owners. A happily married couple? Well they would be if the lady of the house wasn’t such a, living in denial, kleptomaniac. Maybe she’ll need to go to an asylum?

Where’s it set?

Gaslight is set in Victorian London, England. Mostly on location within the rooms of the grand terrace house. With a few excursions out and about around town. A little wander in the smog filled park and a joyful visit to a posh music hall.

Gaslight (1940) Aton Walbrook Diana Wynyard together

The main players

Anton Walbrook – Paul Mallen
Diana Wynyard – Bella Mallen
Frank Pettingell – B.G. Rough
Cathleen Cordell – Nancy the parlour-maid
Robert Newton – Vincent Ullswater
Minnie Rayner – Elizabeth the cook
Jimmy Hanley – Cobb

Sure I’ve seen them in something?

Anton Walbrook is pretty new to me so please recommend his films. The only other one I’ve seen of his is the 49th Parallel (1941). I know I need to see Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger’s two films with him in called The Life and Death of Colonel Blimp (1943) and The Red Shoes (1948). The only other two cast members I recognized was Robert Newton who is famous for his portrayals of Long John Silver and Blackbeard. Though I’d highly recommend you check him out in the superbly dark Obsession (1949) which I featured on my blog. The other guy I knew was Jimmy Hanley who I’d first seen in the rookie cop, bobby on the beat drama, The Blue Lamp (1950) and just recently in the World War Two film with David Niven called The Way Ahead (1944)

Gaslight (1940) Aton Walbrook Diana Wynyard sinister thriller mind games

Notes on production?

Gaslight is directed by Thorold Dickinson. Based on a 1938 play by British playwright Patrick Hamilton who’d earlier penned the 1929 play Rope. Which would famously become the Alfred Hitchcock classic starring James Stewart. Gaslight would become famous in a few other ways. Strangely with the word coming back into fashion. “Gas-light to manipulate (someone) by psychological means into questioning their own sanity.

Gaslight (1940) would go on to have a more well known bigger budget American version in 1944. With Charles Boyer and Ingrid Bergman taking on the married couple. Now I never knew any of this. I do so love learning doing this blog. Well, apparently, MGM not only bought the rights to the film but they had added a clause insisting that all existing prints of the original 1940 version be destroyed. Even wanting the negative to be erased. Lord have mercy that someone didn’t read or even listen to that insane proposal.

Another great bit of info I’ve just read. The stage play opened on Broadway New York under the different name of Angel Street. With the one and only Vincent Price gaining the rights to the play and taking the main role. Judith Evelyn would play his wife.

Hits like a sledge hammer

Opening hard and savage. Then dialing it straight back for a few minutes!. By jove old bean this is one intense psychological thriller. All helped along with a sinister performance by Anton Walbrook. What with his Austrian accent, mannerisms and a mad swish streak of white hair through his mane that gives him an almost Dracula quirk. Just the concept of this film is dark but seeing the manipulation and pain Diana Wynyard is put through is something else for a film from this time. Plus you get some underlying naughty sordidness in the dialogue to keep you on your toes.

Gaslight (1940) Aton Walbrook Diana Wynyard door way

Cutting remarks

“You will die, raving, in an asylum!”
“It’s a dirty evening for a stroll sir?” “There’s a lot of dirty things in London”
“Hit me, hurt me, do anything but for Pete’s sake, speak to me.”
“Knife? What knife? Do you see a knife in my hand?”
“When I married you, you were normal, at least I thought you were.”

Gaslight (1940) Aton Walbrook Diana Wynyard thriller sat in chair

Verdict

Oh my days! I wasn’t expecting this one to be so incredibly dark and at the same time an extraordinary rewarding viewing experience. Gaslight plays so well on it’s intense psychological thrills. It’s almost horror in nature. So yeah Anton Walbrook might ham it up a bit but he’s just perfect for the part. You feel yourself holding back boos and hisses whenever he’s on screen. Everything about the film is a fantastic achievement and I haven’t even mentioned Frank Pettingell. He’s an extremely likable, inquisitive, old police detective who sniffs something fishy is going on. He reminded me slightly of Charles Laughton.

I’m very intrigued to see the 1944 version. Though I felt this 1940 version, along with it’s history, made a perfect viewing experience of me. I will endeavor to see it for comparison. I wonder if I’d have seen them around the other way it would of been different?

With a fast paced no nonsense run-time of 84 minutes. This exciting film can be found on YOUTUBE.

Rating score

Wolfman’s rating 10/10       IMDB 7.3/10

Feel free to let me know you thoughts on this one if you wish.. Keep having fun at the movies…. Mikey Wolf

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Union Station (1950) Chicago Train Station In Ransom Film Noir

Union Station (1950) blu ray box cover artwork william holden

This is the start of some more straight to the point reviews. They will probably all end up being Film Noir. Each time I see another one I wanna do a review post but as I usually waffle a bit I thought it’ll be good to work out a structured system to get me to the point. Hope you like. So without further ado here I bring you Union Station

What’s going down?

A speeding car tailing a cloud of dust arrives at a train station. Two dodgy looking guys exiting from either side. Both take up different positions on the train. A female passenger glimpses a side arm. Apprehensive she informs the train guard. Soon a tough Detective is on the case. A case that will involve the kidnapping of a young girl and a ransom.

Where’s it set?

The film’s main action is set within the walls of the giant train terminal of Chicago’s Union Station. With scenes spilling out onto the streets, on trains, down alleyways and railway sidings.

The main players

William Holden – Lt William Calhoun
Nancy Olson – Joyce Willecombe
Barry Fitzgerald – Inspector Donnelly
Allene Roberts – Lorna Murchison
Herbert Heyes – Henry Murchison
Jan Sterling – Marge Wrighter
Lyle Bettger – Joe Beacom

Union Station (1950) Barry Fitzgerald Inspector Donnelly William Holden Lt William Calhoun

Sure I’ve seen them in something?

William Holden is the big cheese in Union Station. You would’ve seen him in countless brilliant films, here’s four. The Bridge On The River Kwai (1957), Stalag 17 (1953), Sunset Boulevard (1950) and the The Wild Bunch (1969)
I don’t know Nancy Olson apart from she also starred in Sunset Boulevard (1950).
Jan Sterling has popped up in a few films I’ve featured on here like Mystery Street (1950) and Caged (1950). Most will know she’s most excellent in the Billy Wilder’s brilliant drama Ace In The Hole (1951) with Kirk Douglas.
Barry Fitzgerald is one fun guy. He is so suited to these chief inspector movies. He is superb in The Naked City (1948) and also And Then There Were None (1945).  Please feel free to recommend more from him.

Union Station (1950) William Holden Lt William Calhoun Nancy Olson Joyce Willecombe

Notes on production?

Directed by Rudolph Maté. He made the end of the world science fiction tale, When Worlds Collide (1951) and that rather brilliant film noir with Edmond O’Brien in D.O.A. Most will know Rudolph (not me as I’m learning all the time) is probably more known for his amazing work as a cinematographer and director of photography. So you know you are in safe hands for lots of crazy cool camera shots of dark lit corridors.

Union Station is based on a novel by Thomas Walsh called Nightmare In Manhattan. Which had New York City’s Grand Central Station as the center piece for the action. Just to make things a little weird they changed the movie setting to become Chicago Union Station but actually filmed Los Angeles Union Station as the location.

Hits like a sledge hammer

There’s a few big moments of wow. The large squad of menacing men in fedoras and a shocking interrogation scene. There’s also an off screen punch of a female character with just the noise alone making you go “oh shiiit!“. Generally all the hostage scenes are brutal. If you like tunnels and a shoot out you’re in for a treat. Oh and COWS!

Cutting remarks

Don’t ever call me Willy!
She’ll go home…if they ever fish her out of the river.
I may have to beat your brains out
That’s it scream, Cookie. No one is ever gonna hear you down here!
I’ll break any man who takes his eyes off that suitcase.
The people you have to deal with are lice

Union Station (1950) squad of menacing men in fedoras 2

Verdict

This is one cool film. BUT first you gotta get over the coincidence of the beginning of the story. Once past that it’s just great to watch Lt. William Calhoun wander on down through his station. Stopping everyday crooks as the bigger drama unfolds before him. Watching all his men fill the unique architecture of the station alongside the little Irishman Inspector Donnelly sprouting words of wisdom and orders at every turn. You get stake-outs, suspenseful tails, one of which is on the elevated train line and is especially good. It’s got brutal interrogation, shocking violence and what we love seeing in film noir, many cool backdrop camera angles of vents, pipes, alleyways and tunnels all lit up in beautiful black and white.

With a fast paced run-time of 80 minutes. This exciting film is perfect for a work night.

Rating score

Wolfman’s rating 8.5/10      IMDB 6.8/10

The Way Ahead (1944) WWII Blogathon. Propaganda From The Pen Of Peter Ustinov Released on D-Day

The Way Ahead (1944) David Niven carol reed ww2 film poster

There I was enjoying The Way Ahead when the film lands in Algeria with our cast poised ready to join the fighting in North Africa. Raging in the distance, not too far away, is the flash and sounds of heavy gun fire. Fierce battles are taking place as the Allies smash horns with the infamous Rommel and his Afrika Korps. Ordered to wait out the fighting until needed, these British infantry men sit anxiously with the Algerian locals. Waiting inside a small cafe they entertained themselves with songs and darts. Standing grumpy, not at all happy with this invasion on his nice quiet business is a Frenchman called Rispoli. Now I’m looking at him rather baffled. I was convinced he looked like a young Peter Ustinov. And of course it was. He’s quite an unique looking fellow, even in his youth. When the film finished I couldn’t wait to read about his involvement in The Way Ahead and found out a whole lot more. Continue reading

The Small Back Room (1949) WW2 Bomb Disposal, Alcoholism, PTSD, Love And Kathleen Byron

The Small Back Room (1949) Michael Powell Emeric Pressburger David Farrar movie poster

Double excited about finding The Small Back Room after I’d just finished watching the incredibly intense 70s series Danger UXB. Excited and intrigued to add this World War Two bomb disposal drama to my movie night. The other exciting news for me was the chance to see yet another film from the The Archers production company.  Continue reading

Shoot to Kill (1988) All Action FBI Agent Sidney Poitier Goes Wild In The Woods

Shoot To Kill (1988) Sidney Poitier Tom Berenger movie poster dvd cover

He stood talking in the mirror whilst pushing a few wrinkles on his head “They’re not bad at all? Shiiiiiit I’m a 60 year old man. I still got it“. Pondering back over the last ten years out of the game. Deep down he’d missed it. Forsure we all missed him. “It’s all action guys now. Beefcake whippersnappers! That Rambo guy, Sly Stallone and that Austrian giant! Arnie something. He took on an alien in the jungle ffs!. Shiiiiit man things have surely changed since I’ve been gone?

You know what though? I’m back. The book is finished and I’m ready to show that this old man is as tough as the rest of them. YEAH They’ll see. I can go all First Blood, Commando on their arse.” “YEP I’ll show them” He takes a step back. Full frame in the mirror. A little jog on the spot. He psyches himself up. Now shadow boxing and staring himself out. “That’s it SP you can do! Come on! Who are you? Shout it out“. More punches to the air, he smiles and starts to chant. “SIDNEY POITIER SIDNEY POITIER SIDNEY POITIER” “I’m back baby!“. The world sighed a breath of relief, all was well in the universe once again. Continue reading

They Made Me a Fugitive (1947) British Film Noir With Trevor Howard And His Trusty Milk Bottle

They Made Me a Fugitive (1947) I Became a Criminal trevor howard british film noir poster

The backroom of the London high street Valhalla Undertaking Company was filled with darkness. The walls and floor space taken up by stacks of wooden coffins. Stood in the bleak setting were a bunch of shifty looking cockney geezers. Gangsters. Rough looking thugs with thick necks, cauliflower ears and busted up flat noses. In amongst those brutish frames you had the usual crafty looking types. Weasel looking type. Sly and creepy. Ready to shank you in the back for a few bob or maybe just for the fun of it. You also had the loyal sidekicks in the mix. Eager to crack skulls with brass knuckle dusters. An older, mother figure organised as she kept an eye on the business. As long as a little extra came her way she was happy. Continue reading

Where the Sidewalk Ends (1950) Film Noir That Hits Like A Sucker Punch

Where the Sidewalk Ends (1950) Dana Andrews Gary Merrill Gene Tierney film noir poster

Detective Sgt. Mark Dixon (Dana Andrews) despises criminals. Loves nothing better than burying his knuckles into some hoodlums ribcage. Sometimes you hear the crack. That wince of pain is also satisfying. Better still, landing a clean, perfectly placed right hook, pow, straight to the jaw. He punches the air. If you’re lucky you’ll catch that sweet moment when the lights go out within their eyes. He smiles with the thought. Continue reading

The First of the Few (1942) The Spitfire Story With Leslie Howard And Lady Houston

Spitfire (1942) Lesie Howard David Niven poster artwork ww2

The First of the Few, to be later known as Spitfire, is a biopic of Reginald Joseph Mitchell. The aeronautical engineer and designer of that iconic flying machine, the Supermarine Spitfire. Directed and produced by Leslie Howard who plonks himself in the lead role of RJ Mitchell. Unfortunately to no fault of his own, The First of the Few would become poor Leslie’s final film. But before we go into that, what’s this film all about? Continue reading

A Matter of Life and Death (1946) Well I Thought It Was But It Wasn’t Really

A Matter of Life and Death (1946) The Criterion Collection Blu-ray artwork DVD

There I was in my teenage years lying on the back room sofa all alone drifting in and out of consciousness. Not only had I caught glandular fever but the doctor, in his wisdom, had prescripted the wrong antibiotics. The mix up had caused my whole body to breakout in a rash. It looked like scarlet fever and I was beside myself! In between the crazy itching and bouts of fever sweats I’d become drowsy from all the medication.  I was hallucinating. There I was making my way up the Stairway to Heaven! Continue reading