When I first watched Gaslight (1944), I was blown away by the standard of the performances overall. It is still my favourite Charles Boyer role, and I think that Ingrid Bergman really shows her capacity for exhaustive emotional depth in her portrayal of the beleaguered woman, desperate to not succumb to insanity. But I think that Angela Lansbury’s performance as the conniving, disrespectful and openly sexually mature young maid, who treats the lady of the house disparagingly and flirts with her husband in front of her, is my favourite performance of the film. That may seem like an odd thing to say. Her character is probably as unlikable as Charles Boyer’s, and almost as destructive, because she is complicit in his abuse of his wife. But what Angela Lansbury shows, is that she is one of the greatest actresses of her generation.
I will be taking part in The 5th Annual Favourite TV Show Episode Blogathon hosted by A Shroud of Thoughts, so please watch this space!
I will be taking part in The Third Doris Day Blogathon hosted by Letters to Old Hollywood, so please watch this space!
Love will see you through
Larry Nevins (played by Arthur Kennedy) is shot in the head by a German sniper in West Africa whilst in a landmine riddled zone. At first, none of the medical practitioners at the first military hospital he is taken to are sure about the condition of his eyes, and Larry grows increasingly desperate as time goes on. Finally, he is transferred to a hospital for blind soldiers, where he is told that his sight cannot be recovered. Larry is distraught over this news, feeling as if his entire life has come to a halt.
Double Indemnity (1944) starring Barbara Stanwyck and Fred MacMurray as Phyllis Dietrichsen and Walter Neff respectively, is considered a landmark film noir, and one of the best films to ever be made in the genre. It tells the age old tale of money and sexual control, expertly exploring the seedier side of both. While modern audiences will instantly connect both Barbara Stanwyck and Fred MacMurray to these roles, neither of them were too keen to play the murderous wife and heel of an insurance salesman. Billy Wilder hounded both of them until they took the part. While Barbara Stanwcyk was the always the first choice for Phyllis, Fred MacMurray was pretty much the last one for Neff.
As many know, Alfred Hitchcock making Psycho was never a sure thing. The studio, and apparently his wife, weren’t too keen on the Master of Suspense adapting a novel that people thought was cheap sensationalism. Robert Bloch’s book was based on the infamous Ed Gein murders, which had been grisly national news a few years before. Like Norman Bates, Ed Gein had an unhealthy relationship with his mother, who he later dug up and kept in his house as his sole companion. But Hitchcock saw great potential in the story, an opportunity to make an entirely new kind of film, one that, like Val Lewton’s The Leopard Man, explored the darker, terribly lonely and compulsive urges of the serial killer.
I’m very pleased to say that I am going to be taking part in The Fourth Annual Bette Davis Blogathon hosted by The Good Old Days of Classic Hollywood. So please watch this space!