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'Gaslight' Remake Planned

Charles Boyer Ingrid Bergman Gaslight

Warner Bros. has begun developing a remake of Gaslight, the 1944 thriller directed by George Cukor, and starring Charles Boyer as a suave murderer and Ingrid Bergman as his naive – and quite wealthy – wife, who almost goes bananas before the final fadeout. The film received a total of seven Academy Award nominations: best picture, best director, best actor, best supporting actress (Angela Lansbury, in her film debut), and best screenplay (John L. Balderston, Walter Reisch, and John Van Druten), winning in the best actress and best art direction categories. Additionally, Bergman won a Golden Globe for what is one of the weakest performances of her career.

Also in the Gaslight cast were Joseph Cotten, Dame May Whitty, Barbara Everest, Halliwell Hobbes, and Heather Thatcher.

British filmmaker Joe Wright, who directed last year's generally well-received (and not very good) adaptation of Jane Austen's Pride & Prejudice, is supposed to make his American directorial debut on the new Gaslight, while Abi Morgan (of the 2004 British miniseries Sex Traffic) is currently scheduled to write the update, which will be set in contemporary California instead of Victorian London.

Diana Wynyard, Anton Walbrook in Gaslight

Before you criticize today's Hollywood for having absolutely no imagination, it's worth remembering that the 1944 version was already a remake of a British film – which many consider superior to the glossy and somewhat slow-paced Cukor version. In the 1940 original (renamed Angel Street in the U.S.), Austrian actor Anton Walbrook (best remembered for The Red Shoes) plays the villain, while Diana Wynyard (Best Actress Academy Award nominee for Cavalcade, 1932-33) is the am-I-crazy-or-am-I-not wife. Thorold Dickinson directed. The plot in both films was taken from Patrick Hamilton's stage play.

MGM, the studio responsible for the 1944 remake (which in Britain was retitled Murder in Thornton Square), reportedly ordered all prints of the 1940 version destroyed so as to avoid comparisons with their film. If that is indeed true, the ploy didn't work, for copies of Dickinson's Gaslight still exist. In fact, the film has been shown on Turner Classic Movies several times.

I should add that the still from the 1940 Gaslight was found on the Michael Powell & Emeric Pressburger site, which has loads of pictures and information about the British directors of A Matter of Life and Death / Stairway to Heaven (1945), Black Narcissus (1946), and The Red Shoes (1948).

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3 Comments to 'Gaslight' Remake Planned

  1. Gene Bivins

    FYI, the DVD of Gaslight, which I bought more than 10 years ago now, has both the English and American versions. Both have their good points.

    Unlike the author, I much prefer the Cukor/Bergman/Boyer version to the earlier film. One of Bergman's weakest? Different strokes, I guess!

  2. admin

    @Lee

    Nothing has come of the “Gaslight” remake.

  3. Lee

    While I am very familiar with the 1944 version of Gaslight, I only recently saw the 1940 version … and found your site hoping to find that a remake was in the works. I think both versions have flaws and merits as you both point out. Maybe a good remake would include the merits fro both. Do you know if a remake is still moving forward? With who? I can't say I'm a big fan of Wright: while I liked Atonement and Hanna, I found the script of Pride & Prejudice and casting of Anna Karenina difficult. If I had my choice of director's for Gaslight: Darren Aronofsky would be on the shortlist. Cheers from Canada