Gaslight (1940) vs. Gaslight (1944)

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Gaslight (1940) vs. Gaslight (1944)

Post by kingrat »

Thank you, TCM, for scheduling the original Gaslight (1940), directed by Thorold Dickinson, with Anton Walbrook and Diana Wynyard in the roles later played by Charles Boyer and Ingrid Bergman in the version directed by George Cukor (1944). Because I've seen the more famous MGM version a couple of times, though not recently, it seems like the way Gaslight is supposed to be, but there's much to be said for the earlier film, especially the direction of Thorold Dickinson. I'd never seen any of his films, although The Queen of Spades, with Anton Walbrook and Edith Evans, is now on the watch-for list.

Dickinson begins with a brief account of the earlier crime which occurred in the house, and this is so economical and stylish that I liked the film already. Another excellent moment occurs when the husband has sent his wife out of the double-doored drawing room up the stairs to her room. As the left half of the door closes on the wife going upstairs, we can see through the open half the maid coming up the stairs, eager to make her play for the master. This is most ingenious and satisfying.

As for the actors, I like both Walbrook and Boyer. Ingrid Bergman and Angela Lansbury have more star power than their talented counterparts, and Joseph Cotten's role has been built up for the Cukor film, which makes for a more romantic resolution. The possibility of romance between Diana Wynyard and Robert Newton is present in the Dickinson film, but the feeling at the end is more grim, the escape narrower. To me, the Cukor Gaslight has a very MGM feel, with the considerable benefits that gloss, glamor, and good taste can bring, with George Cukor's more than capable but perhaps slightly anonymous direction.

What do the rest of you think? Any other recommendations about other Thorold Dickinson films?
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Re: Gaslight (1940) vs. Gaslight (1944)

Post by charliechaplinfan »

Both films have merits for me but ultimately it's George Cukor's more polished version that I prefer. There's nothing to chose between the two actors who are both very accomplished with nice accents, Ingrid is one of my favorites and this is one of her best roles and Angela Lansbury is the icing on the cake, I don't care very much for Joseph Cotten's character and I love the atomosphere of the Victorian house. Both are good films.

I wish I could advise you on Dickinson's films but I've seen only the two that you've seen.
Failure is unimportant. It takes courage to make a fool of yourself - Charlie Chaplin
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Re: Gaslight (1940) vs. Gaslight (1944)

Post by Rita Hayworth »

Dear All,
Nice start of a new thread Kingrat!

I have seen both films this year; at my friend's place in Vancouver B.C. ... I tend to favor the 1944 Version more than the 1940 Version because I have a hard time understanding Joesph Cotton on screen. Being hearing impaired; Joesph Cotton is not one of my favorite actors (there is something about him that irks me) because I find that the 1940 version is much weaker than the 1944 Version that starred Charles Boyer and Ingrid Bergman. Just like CCFan ... said you can't ignore the talents of a young Angela Lansbury in this film!
charliechaplinfan wrote:I don't care very much for Joseph Cotten's character and I love the atomosphere of the Victorian house.

I totally support this quote from CCFan 100%

I would give 1940 version 2-3 stars (a weak 3 stars) and the 1944 version 4-5 stars (very strong indeed) because the talent pool and story line is stronger. I agree with both Kingrat and CCFan (assessment) of what you've (both) written and you both will not get an argument out of me.
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Re: Gaslight (1940) vs. Gaslight (1944)

Post by movieman1957 »

FInally saw the 1940 "Gaslight." As stated there is much to be said for Dickinson's direction. He moves the camera quite a bit and always very smoothly. The final tracking shot that ends at a street lamp is especially good. The set design is quite good too as the house is just covered in and with STUFF. It gives as much a feeling of claustrophobia as it does wealth. This is especially so of pictures. Hardly a wall is not subjected to a covering of them.

Anton Walbrook is properly menacing as the film progresses. I did find it a bit confusing as to the reason why he was giving his wife such grief as what he is after, though hers, came from his family. He does do a nice short turn at the piano which he genuinely plays. Diana Wynyard does a fine job as the wife.

The film wastes no time getting into things. It moves quite crisply and doesn't spend time with a lot of overt psychological meanderings. It resolves quite well.

It may not be a match for budget and star power with the '44 version but I think it stands well enough on its own.

"Time flies like an arrow, fruit flies like a banana."
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Re: Gaslight (1940) vs. Gaslight (1944)

Post by Fossy »

I have both of these in my collection. Usually I prefer the original, but not in this case. For me the 1944 version is far superior, probably because I believe that the stars in this are superior. Obviously this is not just my opinion, with the 1944 version being nominated for 7 Oscars, and winning two.
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