Director George Cukor’s classic psychological thriller Gaslight has been selected for preservation in the National Film Registry joining a list of genre classics including The Shining and The Silence of the Lambs.
Adapted from Patrick Hamilton’s play by the same name, Gaslight tells the story of Paula, played by the remarkable Ingrid Bergman (Casablanca). As a teenager, Paula interrupts a jewel robbery in the home of her aunt, a famous opera singer. Unfortunately, her aunt was also murdered during the robbery.
Paula’s mother sends her to Italy to train her voice to become an opera star, herself. Several years later, Paula meets the handsome Gregory Anton (Charles Boyer), and the two are soon married. Returning to London, where she has no friends, the two move into the very same house where her aunt was murdered.
Soon, strange things begin to happen in the home. A picture goes missing from the wall; a brooch given to her by Gregory goes missing as well, and the gaslights seem to brighten and dim on their own.
As Gregory increases her isolation from the outside world, Paula is soon convinced that she is going mad.
The film boasted an amazing cast alongside Bergman and Boyer. Dame Angela Lansbury made her film debut in Gaslight as a decidedly wicked maid hired by Gregory to work in the home. Lansbury was brilliant in the role and found herself nominated for an Oscar that year.
Joseph Cotten, who would later star opposite Bette Davis in Hush…Hush Sweet Charlotte, also appeared in the film as an inspector from Scotland Yard who is convinced there is more going on inside the home of Gregory and Paula than meets the eye.
Bergman won an Oscar and a Golden Globe for her performance as Paula.
The National Film Registry is a part of the National Film Preservation Board which was established in 1988 by the Nation Film Preservation Act. Each year, the NFPB scours hundreds of nominations to choose 25 films to add to the Registry including films from every genre.
Gaslight joins Amadeus, Clerks, Purple Rain, Boys Don’t Cry, and Platoon among others in the 2019 selection list bringing the total number of films chosen for preservation since the Registry began to 775.