Gaslight (June 6, 1940)

Diana Wynyard and Anton Walbrook
 

Released June 6, 1940: (running time 1 hour and 24 minutes) In number 12 Pimlico Square, Paul Mallen tries to convince his wife that she is insane.

Directed by Thorold Dickinson

The Actors: Anton Walbrook (Paul Mallen), Diana Wynyard (Bella Mallen), Frank Pettingell (E.G. Rough, livery stables proprietor), Cathleen Cordell (Nancy the parlor maid), Robert Newton (Vincent Ullswater, Bella's cousin), Minnie Rayner (Elizabeth the cook), Jimmy Hanley (Cobb), Marie Wright (Alice Barlow, murdered lady), Aubrey Dexter (house agent), Mary Hinton (Lady Winterbourne), Angus Morrison (pianist), Jack Barty (chairman of the music hall), The Darmora Ballet (dancers), Katie Johnson (Alice Barlow's maid), Johnnie Schofield (John, the man working on carriage at the stables)

 

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The Crazy Wife, the Battle of Wits, and the Mystery of the Gaslight

Before electric lights were invented the night was illuminated by candles. Then whale oil was burned in lamps. As our story opens, an old lady is sewing in her darkened parlor with an oil lamp next to her lighting up her work. As we watch, a stranger wraps a chord around her neck and strangles her till she is dead. Her home, 12 Pimlico Square, is closed up and put up for lease, but no one wants to lease a place that was home to murder for many years, until. . . .

Before electric lights were invented, but after candles and whale oil lamps lit the night, gaslights were invented. Metal pipes were run through the town and into homes, containing flammable gas. The pipes ended in a lamp with a knob that could turn the flow of gas on and off. At sundown instead of lighting a candle or a whale oil lamp, one could open the valve going to the light fixture and with a match light the night as if it were day.

Once in a while a thing, a noun, becomes a verb in our ever-evolving language. A gaslight is a thing, a marvelous thing that brought light to the darkness, but because of this movie, that thing became a verb. There is a quality to a gaslight that is used to great effect in this thriller, and gaslighting became a verb because of the cruel and diabolical way the leading man manipulates his wife. This newlywed couple leases the house of murder, and as the house is being prepared for them, brand new gaslights are installed in all the rooms.

If you are gaslighting someone, you are trying to convince them that something is true that is not true at all. If done correctly, your victim can be totally destroyed, without any blame at all on the villain. Pop a big bowl of white kernel popcorn with plenty of warm melted butter drizzled over it and enjoy the show.

Anton Walbrook
Anton Walbrook
Diana Wynyard
Diana Wynyard
Frank Pettingell, Diana Wynyard
Frank Pettingell, Diana Wynyard
Angus Morrison
Angus Morrison
Anton Walbrook
Anton Walbrook
Anton Walbrook, Cathleen Cordell
Anton Walbrook, Cathleen Cordell
Anton Walbrook, Cathleen Cordell
Anton Walbrook, Cathleen Cordell
Anton Walbrook
Anton Walbrook
Anton Walbrook
Anton Walbrook
Cathleen Cordell
Cathleen Cordell
Cathleen Cordell, Minnie Rayner
Cathleen Cordell, Minnie Rayner
Cathleen Cordell
Cathleen Cordell
Cathleen Cordell
Cathleen Cordell
Diana Wynyard
Diana Wynyard
Diana Wynyard, Anton Walbrook
Diana Wynyard, Anton Walbrook
Diana Wynyard, Minnie Rayner
Diana Wynyard, Minnie Rayner
Robert Newton
Robert Newton
Diana Wynyard, Robert Newton
Diana Wynyard, Robert Newton
Diane Wynyard
Diane Wynyard
Diane Wynyard
Diane Wynyard
Diane Wynyard
Diane Wynyard
Diane Wynyard
Diane Wynyard
Diane Wynyard
Diane Wynyard
Frank Pettingell
Frank Pettingell
Frank Pettingell, Diana Wynyard
Frank Pettingell, Diana Wynyard
Frank Pettingell, Jimmy Hanley
Frank Pettingell, Jimmy Hanley
Frank Pettingell, Robert Newton
Frank Pettingell, Robert Newton
Frank Pettingell
Frank Pettingell
Jack Barty
Jack Barty
Jimmy Hanley
Jimmy Hanley
Jimmy Hanley
Jimmy Hanley
Katie Johnson
Katie Johnson
Marie Wright
Marie Wright