Monday, 29 August 2011

Turn on the Gaslight

I came across a review of Murder on the Orient Express a few days ago. The positives of the film have not endured as much as the somewhat infamous Oscar win for Ingrid Bergman. The reviewer noted that Bergman, for all her three Oscars, never won for a performance worthy of note. That right there is a bit of an overestimation because even though Greta Ohlsson is not a multifaceted performance it’s not at all abysmal, neither is her work opposite Yul Brynner in Anastasia. I was particularly incensed by this performance, though, because Ingrid’s first Oscar winning performance is one I consider to be of superlative worth. On her birthday, it’s Paula I turn to immediately when I think of this legendary woman.
Incidentally, yesterday was the birthday of her co-star Charles Boyer. I meant to do a min-write-up on him yesterday, but my schedule didn’t allow. In my mind Boyer is an improved version of Clark Gable, and I immediately release how strange a statement it seems. Boyer’s light has hardly endured as well as Gable’s, but I’m not a fan of the latter. Like, with Ingrid, I turn to Gaslight when I think of his talents. The film is about a husband trying to convince his wife she’s going crazy with the help of vaguely menacing gaslight. Boyer has a difficult task in the film. We’re supposed to realise his malevolence, yet all the while believe that Paula wouldn’t find it obvious. And, true, a significant amount of that depends on Bergman’s fine work, but I can think of few actors – classic or contemporary – who could tread the line between charming and evil as well (although, if pushed, I’d cast Jude Law opposite Nicole Kidman). I imagine that Gable, as his wont, would turn charming into unctuous, which is obviously personal viewpoint. Gable’s not without his creditors.
Gaslight racked up a total of seven Oscar nods – the win for Ingrid and the art direction and nominations for Boyer, Picture, Lansbury for Supporting Actress, Cinematography and Cukor's directin. As an aside, the film is proof of Cukor’s versatility even if not many care to remember it. The crux of the film rests on the performances of the two leads and Cukor’s work and I sort of hate that it isn’t remembered a bit more. But then, I seem to sort of hate a lot of things. I’d turn on Gaslight to celebrate both Charles and Ingrid’s career. The light in the film might be flickering, but their stars are still burning bright for me.

I found this adorable photo of the two, and Joseph Cotton on line. I have no idea where I got it from (if it's your, feel free to claim) but I love it.
Are you secretly as besotted with the pair in Gaslight as I? What would you watch to celebrate them?


dinasztie said...

Thanks for writing so positively about Ingrd! It's always great to read such things.

Fritz said...

I love ths movie and Ingrid in it. I have seen it countless times already (mostly with my mother who also loves it).

Runs Like A Gay said...

I don't think it's a great film, overstuffing the suspense, but I agree Ingrid is fantastic, utterly believable in a role that could have come across as a wet misery.

I almost think it would have been just as interesting a film if he wasn't so sinister. But then that would be Suspicion...