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A powerful Gothic melodrama of domestic sadism and psychological suspense, now digitally remastered by the BFI National Archive.

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  • Director Thorold Dickinson
  • Producer John Corfield
  • Screenwriters AR Rawlinson, Bridget Boland
  • With Anton Walbrook, Diana Wynyard, Frank Pettingell
  • UK 1940
  • UK distribution BFI

The novelist/dramatist Patrick Hamilton is regularly ‘rediscovered’, but the first film version of his Victorian stage play Gas Light has not had its time in the sun – until now. Mingling suavity and cruelty, Anton Walbrook excels as the sadistic husband who attempts to drive his wife mad to prevent her disclosing his guilty secret while he searches obsessively for some hidden jewels. The project appealed to Thorold Dickinson for allowing him ‘to expose the worst side of the Victorian male’s attitude to women’. The film’s critical success in Britain prompted the sale of all rights to MGM, who suppressed this version in favour of its own Ingrid Bergman-starring retread. Fortunately, Dickinson had made a ‘secret’ print, which was donated to the British Film Institute and used for reference when the film was digitally remastered by the BFI National Archive.

Nigel Algar

Remastering supported by The Mohamed S. Farsi Foundation.

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