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Ever since they have moved into that old house on Pimlico Square where
a murder had happened 20 years ago, Bella Mallen (Diana Wyngard) has gone
a bit crazy, she loses things, steals stuff without remembering it later
on, and so on - well, at least her husband Paul (Anton Walbrook) tells her
she does, and she believes it, too, not knowing that he mislays her stuff
on purpose, hides stuff he then claims she has stolen and the like. And
behind her back, he romances the parlour maid Nancy (Cathleen Cordell),
just to have her on his side.
Does it all make sense?
No it doesn't,
and it especially doesn't to Rough (Frank Pettingell), a former cop who
stumbled upon Paul 20 years ago when the above-mentioned murder happened,
not as a suspect, merely as a relative. Only, Paul had another name back
then, which is enough to make him suspicious. So Rough follows Paul around
one night and finds out he spends many of his nights breaking into the
neighbouring house (that's currently for sale) to climb into the walled
off attic of his own house. Now this would of course make no sense unless
he was doing something sinister in there - like looking for a fortune in
rubies his aunt (the murder victim from 20 years ago) has hidden there
Eventually, Paul does want to have Bella committed to an
asylum, and that's when Rough knows it's time to act, and he forces his
way into Paul and Bella's house and confronts Paul with a few facts about
his former life to catch him off guard ... but what really breaks him is
that his wife has long found the rubies but hidden them in a vase and
forgot all about them out of neglect.
Rough and his sidekick (Jimmy
Hanley) manage to overcome Paul and tie him to a chair, but then Bella
wants to talk to Paul alone, and while he tries to convince her to cut him
loose, she threatens him with a knife, convincing him she has gone all
Even though Gaslight gives away a few of its key
plotpoints way too soon, it's still a mighty tense and suspenseful little
thriller, mainly because even with having all the facts readily presented
before oneself, the whole thing is tightly constructed, tensely told, and
the cast is uniformly first rate. And add to that an elegant direction and
beautiful period sets and costumes that never seem to be self-serving, and
you've got yourself a pretty good movie!