Lively, entertaining reviews of, and essays on, old and newer films and everything relating to them, written by professional author William Schoell.

Thursday, March 23, 2017


The worm turns: Diana Wynyard and Anton Walbrook
GASLIGHT (aka The Murder in Thornton Square and Angel Street/1940). Director: Thorold Dickinson.

Paul Mallon (Anton Walbrook) and his wife Bella (Diana Wynyard) move into a house in Thornton Square where a woman was murdered years before. The unpleasant Paul treats Bella with utter condescension, and consistently intimates that she is losing her memory and her mind. Meanwhile, a policeman thinks that Mallon looks familiar to him and starts to investigate, but will he be too late to do Mrs. Mellon any good? This first adaptation of Patrick Hamilton's stage play "Angel Street" is comparatively mediocre compared to the far superior Hollywood remake with Ingrid Bergman. In fact, I can't understand why some people think this version is better. Walbrook with his sudden guttural laugh is quite good, but Wynyard, who overplays too much, can't hold a candle to the Oscar-winning Bergman. In this version, the murdered woman is related to Paul, not his wife, The strangulation of the old woman is depicted at the opening, but not in the remake. George Cukor's version puts the focus squarely on the husband and wife (and adds a younger, more attractive detective), whereas this version has more scenes of Paul and the maid, Nancy (Cathleen Cordell), including an unnecessary music hall sequence. A scene at a piano concert is handled with much more aplomb in the Bergman version, but in general everything is done better in the much more suspenseful remake.

Verdict: Not without some merit, but pretty much eclipsed by the Hollywood remake. **1/2.


angelman66 said...

Had no idea this was the original film version--looks like it worth seeking out, if only as a comparison to the Bergman/Boyer/Cukor classic.

William said...

You may be surprised that some people actually think this is the better version -- not for my money!