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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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

Unearthly Stranger (1963) A British Sci-fi Gem With An Explosion Inside His Brain

Unearthly Stranger (1963) John Neville British Science Fiction film poster thriller

A spine-chilling sound resonates eerily through the cloudy skies. A man appears, panicked. Fear upon his face. Rain falls in the pitch black of night. Big Ben looms in the moody landscape. The man turns and runs. Down steep stairs, along cobbled lanes. By the River Thames he hurries through the puddles as beams of light from street lamps make ghostly lines and angles. London is asleep. The man is alone. He carries on to his destination. Bursting through the doors of his office, covered in a mix of sweat and rain, he grabs the tape recorder. Agitated and holding back hysteria, Dr. Mark Davidson (John Neville) looks us directly in the eyes and feverishly warns the world of the Unearthly Stranger.

Unearthly Stranger (1963) John Neville British Science Fiction fear thriller tape recorder panic

Dr. Mark Davidson – In a little while I expect to die. To be killed by… something… that you and I know is here? Visible yet moving unseen amongst us all each moment of the day and night. There were times when you thought I was insane BUT listen to this tape I beg you so you know what it is you have to fight!

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Green for Danger (1946) Doctors, Flirting, Doodlebugs, Murder and Alastair Sim

Green for Danger (1946) Alastair Sims murder mystery whodunit movie poster

Joseph Higgins (Moore Marriott) was the friendly village postman. He fondly remembered back to before the war had turned his quaint little village into a WWII hospital. Now it was over run by doctors, surgeons and nurses. Being on the flight path of the German V1 rocket bombardment of England there wasn’t a day go by without that terrible sound filling the skies. The probability you were gonna be blown to smithereens was an everyday worry! Oh how he wished to be sat in the local pub knocking back a few bevvies with his mates. Continue reading

Journey to the Far Side of the Sun (1969) Gerry Anderson Pulls Away The Strings

journey to the far side of the sun (1969) poster

The incredible had happened. The mindblowing discovery of a new planet in our solar system! How can that be? Hidden behind the sun, following our own Earth’s orbital pathway, was another celestial body. Always hidden. The year is 2069. With data being processed from a returning Sun Probe, the shock findings throw intrigued and mild panic through the European Space Exploration Council. EUROSEC’s director Jason Webb (Patrick Wymark) mind goes into overdrive. They need to urgently send a manned mission to the mysterious new planet immediately. Continue reading

Black Moon (1975) Science Fiction Fantasy French Fruit Loop Mind Wibble Wobble

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Is this science fiction? It certainly starts that way! Kind of post-apocalyptic. Maybe not following a nuclear war but some other world-wide disaster has probably happened. I got a sense and feeling of Alfonso Cuarón’s 2006 sci-fi thriller Children Of Men to start with. The bleak and the gloom, the underlying air of sadness. Yes that was soon to change and oh, how we all laughed that I could have thought such a thing! Hehe. But first…… Continue reading

Millennium (1989) Kris Kristofferson & The Cyberpunk Charlie’s Angel

millennium (1989) movie poster we've been expecting you sci-fi time travel

Ex trucker Kris Kristofferson reminisces back to his old rig with a joyful smile. They were the days, stuck in a convoy traveling down the highway. Sat up high, blasting his horn and chatting to friends, Spider Mike and Widow Woman on his CB radio. Six years working on this new job as the chief investigator for the National Transportation Safety Board had taken its toll on poor Kris. Depressed, tired and desperate to get out, he’d promised himself a vacation. Maybe even quit all together. Continue reading

Not of This Earth (1957) Roger Corman’s Alien Blood Stealing Travelling Salesman

not of this earth (1957) roger corman sci-fi poster artwork amazing

Nothing shows fear quite like a man with a suitcase and a pair of shades. I kid you not, it maybe the ultimate in cheap alien costume but it’s surprisingly effective. Who better to bring the best out of a B-movies microscopic budget than that man, Roger Corman. Not Of This Earth was a pure delight, not only had I never seen it but I wasn’t expecting to love it as much as I did.

not of this earth (1957) paul johnson (paul birch) alien sci-fi invader corman

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