MOVIEGOER

!!!

If you want to learn how to drive your wife crazy and seduce the chambermaid, then don't miss "Gaslight," Hollywood's expert, adaptation of the Broad way chiller, "Angel Street." It's a gripping mystery of the first order, and you'll be pinned to your seat.

Charles Boyer knows that a certain actress died with a fortune in jewels hidden away in her attic, and a beautiful daughter hidden away in Italy studying coloratura soprano. Killing two birds with one stone, he sweeps the beautiful daughter off her feet, marriages her, and goes back with her to her childhood home in London in which, you guessed it, the jewels are hidden.

Why he wants to drive this charming wife crazy by making her think his searching footsteps in the attic are only figments of her imagination, is hard to understand. Maybe he wants to get Miss Bergman out of the way so he can marry Leslie Brooks, the pert chambermaid.

At any rate, he doesn't succeed, and he's the one who is put out of the way-- by the hero sleuth, John Cotten. Cotten really goes for Bergman, and when he tracks down Bad-Man Boyer in the corner of the attic, just in the act of putting the snatch on the jewels, he lets him have it. No more Boyer. And Master Cotten is left with Bergman all to himself. And they no doubt live happily ever after. It's just as simple as that.

"Gaslight" is a simple story with a simple plot, but the underlying idea is not simple, and its weird, almost haunting quality. The idea of one person undermining the confidence of another, artfully plotting to prey upon his weaknesses and doubts with insanity the ultimate end, has a certain horrible strangeness that is powerful cinema. It makes you think, and it makes "Gaslight."

Bergman, Boyer, and Cotten turn in superb performances. With their acting, and excellent directing, "Gaslight" archives a rare degree of taut suspense which more than makes up for the complexity of the plot.