Sunday, January 23, 2011

Jason goes to Noir City, day 2

I missed opening night because I was flying back from Hawai'i. I know, my life is soooo hard. Anyway, I caught a mid-afternoon double feature, one excellent and one embarrassingly bad. First up, the good one:

GASLIGHT (1944): It opens like so much good noir--with the aftermath of a murder. Paula's (Ingrid Bergman) aunt was just murdered. She goes off to Italy to study under the same music teacher who had made her aunt a star. But 10 years later, she can't focus on her singing because she's in love. She returns to the scene of the crime with her new husband Mr. Anton (Charles Boyer). But wedded bliss quickly descends into torture and madness. The twist is pretty predictable, but getting there was a lot of fun. And while Bergman took home the Oscar for her performance of a wife being driven insane (it also took home the Oscar for art direction and was nominated in pretty much all major categories), for me the real treat was a young (19 years old) Angela Lansbury making her film debut as the maid. She was a saucy little scene stealer back in the day!

And then there was STRANGERS IN THE NIGHT (1944). A WWII soldier travels to California to meet the girl whom he corresponded with overseas. Upon arriving at the house on top of the cliff, it's clear that something is amiss. The girl is not there, but her mother and her friend are there to greet him, get him settled in, and show him the painting of the lovely Rosemary he's been dying to meet. It's a bit of a trip back in time to see a film that makes such a big deal about a woman doctor (of course, during wartime women have to do men's jobs!), and the ending is completely ridiculous. While GASLIGHT had some excellent points of comic relief, as far as I can tell all of the (abundant) laughs from STRANGERS IN THE NIGHT were unintentional.

Total Running Time: 170 minutes
My Total Minutes: 219,634
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