A few words about…™ Gaslight — in Blu-ray

For those who complain about Warner Archive not releasing the classics, here's one to fully appreciate. The expense to get this correct is extreme, but worth it. 4 Stars

I would surmise, that most people today, don’t think of “gas light,” or “gaslight,” as a noun, but rather a verb.

Not to get political, but the best example probably has been used most notably in the recent past, referencing political means of creating and disseminating either corrupt, incorrect, or misleading truths and facts to the public, many of whom take the words as gospel.

The noun goes back to the 1816 – our story occurs in 1875 – when street lamps were fed gas through a network of underground pipes – lit as darkness arrived manually – by men walking the streets, and setting them aglow, one by one.

The verb that we’re discussing involves working toward a psychological goal, long and hard enough, and with enough believable bits and pieces of random facts and occurrences, that may not truly fit together – so that the victim either begins to believe the incorrect information / data / events, or to believe that they may be slightly insane.

The wonderful film in question is the 1944 Gaslight (the 1938 play on which it was based, by Patrick Hamilton, is Gas Light.)

The play itself, had an interesting history. After opening in London, it opened in Los Angeles in 1941, under the title Five Chelsea Lane. Rights were acquired for Broadway by Vincent Price, which opened in December of that year with Price playing opposite, Judith Evelyn, who most readers will know as Miss Loneyhearts, in a 1954 thriller.

Directed by one of M-G-M’s star filmmakers, George Cukor, and starring Charles Boyer, Ingrid Bergman and Joseph Cotten, with a host of studio supporting players, it is not only an extraordinarily produced and beautiful film, but one that stands the test of time – in spades.

I’ve always admired this film, and once saw it projected via a 35mm safety print.

But Warner Archive’s new Blu-ray (to the best of my recall) betters that experience.

The image harvest appears to be taken from the original negative, but that was lost in the Eastman House fire, so a fine grain master, it is.

The imagery looks fully luminous at times, nitrate-like, and fully film-like, with gorgeous black blacks, abundant shadow detail, and velvety grain.

It’s that good.

The film was shot by Joseph Ruttenberg (Mrs. Miniver, Gigi), with a score by Bronislau Kaper.

Nominated for five Academy Awards in 1945 – Actress in a Leading Role, Supporting Actress, Cinematography, Art Direction (B&W), Screenplay, and Actor in a Leading Role.

It won awards for Ingrid Bergman and Art Direction.

For those who complain about Warner Archive not releasing the classics, here’s one to fully appreciate. The expense to get this correct is extreme, but worth it.

It should go without saying that your support of this wonderful release, will not only bring more classics to the fore, but support preservation and restoration.

Image – 5

Audio – 5

Pass / Fail – Pass

Upgrade from DVD – No question about it!

Very Highly Recommended

RAH

 

Published by

Robert Harris

editor,member

29 Comments

  1. I saw Gaslight several times at the theater I worked at in the late 70s and 80s. The 35mm theatrical prints always looked good. As a matter of fact, and this isn't nearly as pathetic as it sounds, but a group of friends and I skipped our senior prom and saw a double bill of Gaslight and The Picture of Dorian Gray.

  2. Thomas T

    Those with sharp eyes will spot a 14 year old Terry Moore (Come Back Little Sheba, Beneath The 12 Mile Reef) playing the young Ingrid Bergman at the very beginning of the film.

    Hey, thanks. I didn't know that. I'll keep my – sadly, no longer sharp – eyes peeled!

  3. I was able to preorder this from Barnes and Noble going to store and using ship to home . They are having a 40% off sales through today June 16. With membership I get an additional 10% off and free shipping. Coupons are not valid on preorders. $11.87 plus tax.

  4. Robert Harris

    For those into silents, Gibson Gowland had a bit in the 1944.

    Not to derail this thread with my greed for other titles but there is another movie he starred in that I would really like to see in the Warner Archive Collection…

  5. Randy_M

    I wonder why Amazon says this title ships in one to two months! – I wonder what gives. Didn't I read someplace that Amazon is quarreling with Warner?

    Don't know if it's Warner specifically though I think they are in on the group.

    All the Allied Vaughn titles have issues through Amazon. They are most often late and some are even cancelled (rare). The items go OOS early/immediately after release (like almost every retailer) and take much longer than other stores to restock. Part of this could be an argument, but I think a lot of it is the MOD/A-V distribution network which doesn't mesh well with Amazon's distribution/warehouse system.

    That said the 1-2 month is a massive pessimistic estimate and usually 5-14 days is more typical though some high volume titles can take longer for not only the 2nd restock, but the 3rd/4th/;5th so the titles come and go OOS frequently.

    My advice for the last 2-3 years is to avoid AmazonUS for movie orders in general, but esp Disney, any 3D, Kino, Shout, and especially WAC/Sony/Universal MOD titles from Allied Vaughn, They aren't cheaper, they aren't faster, they basically ignore release day guarantees for most studios I;m interested in, they aren't more reliable than Best Buy/WM/DeepDiscount/B&N/Bullmoose and any but the bottom of the barrel retailers, they have no post purchase price protection, and they package things abominably.

  6. The last two items I bought from Amazon, The Glass Bottom Boat and Summer Stock, didn't come until exactly a month after their street date, but I did not pre-order them. I have pre-ordered Footlight Parade and The Thin Man, so I'll see if pre-ordering makes any difference in my case.

  7. Matt Hough

    The last two items I bought from Amazon, The Glass Bottom Boat and Summer Stock, didn't come until exactly a month after their street date, but I did not pre-order them. I have pre-ordered Footlight Parade and The Thin Man, so I'll see if pre-ordering makes any difference in my case.

    You could've pre-ordered Footlight Parade and The Thin Man from Best Buy and have them delivered to you before or on release date for $17.99 per title and free shipping. I'm done with Amazon when it comes to Warner Archive and Disney titles unless they're already in-stock.

  8. Robert Crawford

    You could've pre-ordered Footlight Parade and The Thin Man from Best Buy and have them delivered to you before or on release date for $17.99 per title and free shipping. I'm done with Amazon when it comes to Warner Archive and Disney titles unless they're already in-stock.

    Thanks Robert! Just pre-ordered Thin Man from Best Buy. It's not even available
    on Amazon.

  9. Robert Crawford

    I believe that's in 480 not 1080p.

    The 1080p Blu of the 1940 British version is available in the UK and looks excellent. Further, it is a far superior version of the story (imo) because the villain (Anton Walbrook of THE RED SHOES) is just so much more threatening than the suave Charles Boyer could hope to be, given his star-quality veneer. The protagonist, Diana Wynyard, is relatively unknown to us and therefore seems to be in genuine jeopardy when compared to the 1944 heroine played by Ingrid Bergman, who we know will absolutely survive, as she did in NOTORIOUS. Also, the earlier version is anything but the slick Hollywood production that the 1944 MGM is, and for this kind of material, that can only be a good thing. The foggy London atmosphere seethes in the early version, and there is a terrifying sense of dread that one (at least subconsciously) can put aside while watching the glossy remake. I highly recommend obtaining the British version!

    I expect many will disagree with my assessment, but, hey, what are forums for?

  10. Dick

    The 1080p Blu of the 1940 version is available in the UK and looks excellent. Further, it is a far superior version of the story (imo) because the villain (Anton Walbrook of THE RED SHOES) is just so much more threatening than the suave Charles Boyer could hope to be, given his star-quality veneer. The protagonist, Diana Wynyard, is relatively unknown to us and therefore seems to be in genuine jeopardy when compared to the 1944 heroine played by Ingrid Bergman, who we know will absolutely survive, as she did in NOTORIOUS. Also, the earlier (British) version is anything but the slick Hollywood production that the 1944 MGM is, and for this kind of material, that can only be a good thing. The foggy London atmosphere seethes in the early version, and there is a terrifying sense of dread that one (at least subconsciously) can put aside while watching the glossy remake. I highly recommend obtaining the British version!

    I expect many will disagree with my assessment, but, hey, what are forums for?

    I totally agree with this assessment. However, I don't dislike the later version, I just think this one is quite a bit better.

  11. Randy_M

    I totally agree with this assessment. However, I don't dislike the later version, I just think this one is quite a bit better.

    Based on Mr. Harris' review, I will probably pick this up as well, although it just seems stuffy and unsuspenseful to me.

  12. Dick

    The 1080p Blu of the 1940 British version is available in the UK and looks excellent. Further, it is a far superior version of the story (imo) because the villain (Anton Walbrook of THE RED SHOES) is just so much more threatening than the suave Charles Boyer could hope to be, given his star-quality veneer. The protagonist, Diana Wynyard, is relatively unknown to us and therefore seems to be in genuine jeopardy when compared to the 1944 heroine played by Ingrid Bergman, who we know will absolutely survive, as she did in NOTORIOUS. Also, the earlier version is anything but the slick Hollywood production that the 1944 MGM is, and for this kind of material, that can only be a good thing. The foggy London atmosphere seethes in the early version, and there is a terrifying sense of dread that one (at least subconsciously) can put aside while watching the glossy remake. I highly recommend obtaining the British version!

    I expect many will disagree with my assessment, but, hey, what are forums for?

    So people like you can post their opinion whether it's a minority or majority one.:)

  13. So after two months, Amazon finally got this to me. I had the pleasure of watching both versions for the first time. Loved Boyer's performance as the suave yet threatening antagonist (yes I found him both) and Ms. Bergman…well let's say I would have paid money to watch her read from a phone book. Joseph Cotten proves to be an understated gem of an actor. It's interesting that although he was clearly a popular leading man in the 40s, with many acclaimed roles and films, he's not as well remembered in later years as Stewart, Grant, and even Bogart. IMO he belongs on the same pedestal as those actors.

    I thoroughly enjoyed the 1940 version as well. I don't cast any aspersions on any of the talent from either film, I thought both were enjoyable in their own right. But I will admit to preferring the storyline and flow of the 1940 movie a little bit better.

    I'm glad to have both of these films now in my possession. I think someone mentioned earlier that a better copy of the 1940 version may have been released overseas? If so, I'll have to dive into the interwebs to look for it…

  14. Carlo Medina

    So after two months, Amazon finally got this to me. I had the pleasure of watching both versions for the first time. Loved Boyer's performance as the suave yet threatening antagonist (yes I found him both) and Ms. Bergman…well let's say I would have paid money to watch her read from a phone book. Joseph Cotten proves to be an understated gem of an actor. It's interesting that although he was clearly a popular leading man in the 40s, with many acclaimed roles and films, he's not as well remembered in later years as Stewart, Grant, and even Bogart. IMO he belongs on the same pedestal as those actors.

    I thoroughly enjoyed the 1940 version as well. I don't cast any aspersions on any of the talent from either film, I thought both were enjoyable in their own right. But I will admit to preferring the storyline and flow of the 1940 movie a little bit better.

    I'm glad to have both of these films now in my possession. I think someone mentioned earlier that a better copy of the 1940 version may have been released overseas? If so, I'll have to dive into the interwebs to look for it…

    The 1940 version in HD is Zone B locked. It looks great compared to the unrestored version included in the Archive BD.
    I love both versions and Bergman is sacred in my telephone book (I saw her twice on stage), but I prefer the British version.

  15. My copies of WAC's recent releases of The Thin Man, Jezebel and Gaslight arrived yesterday afternoon (The Letter is still out of stock on Amazon). I'm taking a staycation this week and took advantage of the damp weather to watch Gaslight this morning in honour of Dame Angela Lansbury's 94th birthday. This has got to be one of the most beautiful Blu-rays, black and white or colour, in my collection. The blacks are so inky, and the entire thing was beautiful from start to finish.

    WAC has only released a handful of titles off my wish list over the past few years, but they've spoiled me in 2019. Thank you!

  16. Andrew Budgell

    My copies of WAC's recent releases of The Thin Man, Jezebel and Gaslight arrived yesterday afternoon (The Letter is still out of stock on Amazon). I'm taking a staycation this week and took advantage of the damp weather to watch Gaslight this morning in honour of Dame Angela Lansbury's 94th birthday. This has got to be one of the most beautiful Blu-rays, black and white or colour, in my collection. The blacks are so inky, and the entire thing was beautiful from start to finish.

    WAC has only released a handful of titles off my wish list over the past few years, but they've spoiled me in 2019. Thank you!

    Just wait until you get a gander of THE LETTER!

  17. Andrew Budgell

    . . . . I'm taking a staycation this week and took advantage of the damp weather to watch Gaslight this morning in honour of Dame Angela Lansbury's 94th birthday. This has got to be one of the most beautiful Blu-rays, black and white or colour, in my collection. The blacks are so inky, and the entire thing was beautiful from start to finish.

    If you want Angela Lansbury in an absolutely perfect Blu-ray disc: The Picture Of Dorian Gray,

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