If I were not mad, I could have helped you. Whatever you had done, I could have pitied and protected you. But because I am mad, I hate you. Because I am mad, I have betrayed you. And because I'm mad, I'm rejoicing in my heart, without a shred of pity, without a shred of regret, watching you go with glory in my heart!
—Paula Alquist denouncing her husband.
Based on a 1938 play by Patrick Hamilton, Gaslight
is a 1944 psychological-thriller directed by George Cukor and staring Ingrid Bergman
in her first Oscar-winning performance.
She plays Paula, a young woman who lived with her aunt, a famous opera singer. One day, the aunt is suddenly murdered and robbed by the mysterious Sergius Bauer, leaving Paula alone. After studying abroad for the ten years since the incident, she returns to England with a new husband, Gregory (Charles Boyer). But shortly afterwards, Gregory suddenly starts going out of his way to Mind Rape
Can Paula find out the reason for her husband's cruelty? Can a sympathetic Scotland Yard
officer (Joseph Cotten) save the day?
A very-young Angela Lansbury
made her film debut as the quirky maid Nancy; the performance won her an Academy Award nomination for Best Supporting Actress.
This movie features examples of these tropes:
- Catch Phrase: Miss Thwaites' "Well!"
- Chekhov's Gun: One of Paula's aunt's stage gloves, given to an unnamed admirer who turns out to have been Cameron as a boy.
- Domestic Abuse: One of the most iconic examples in fiction.
- Driven to Madness: Gregory pulls no punches in order to convince Paula she's going mad.
- Gaslighting: Trope Maker and Trope Namer.
- Hoist by His Own Petard: As the page quote proudly demonstrates, Paula proudly turns Gregory's scheme to drive her to madness back on him.
- Market-Based Title: Averted; the play and first film adaptation were titled "Angel Street" in the U.S., but this version was released under the original title.
- Manipulative Bastard: Gregory.
- Mind Rape
- Never My Fault: Gregory never for a moment lets Paula entertain the idea that he may be mistaken; she must be mad. At the end, Gregory insists that he and Paula could have been happy together were it not for her aunt's jewels. This is a man who has married a woman explicitly to drive her insane so she'd be committed, and murdered her aunt for the aforementioned jewels. Paula's not impressed.
- Nosy Neighbor: Miss Thwaites.
- The Remake: This was the second film adaptation of the play; the first was a British film made in 1940. MGM tried to buy and burn up all the negatives of the 1940 version in order to avoid any competition with its film. They failed, and the earlier version survives today.
- Servile Snarker: Nancy.
- Terrible Ticking: One of Gregory's tricks on Paula.
- Victorian London