A Penchant for the Master: Angela Lansbury in Gaslight

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.

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Seeing with the Heart: Arthur Kennedy in Bright Victory

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.

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The Boyish Killer: Anthony Perkins’ Performance in Psycho

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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.

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Hitchcock’s Blondes: A Director’s Ideal

Cool, calm, sophisticated, icy and untouchable. That is what a Hitchcock blonde is supposed to be. She is supposed to a woman whose icy locks are never out of place. Her blue eyes are clear, appraising. Always sizing her leading man up. But she is also the symbol of sexual repression. According to Hitchcock, “We’re after the drawing-room type. . . An English girl, looking like a schoolteacher, is apt to get into a cab with you and, to your surprise, she’ll probably pull a man’s pants open.”  

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