A Penchant for the Master: Angela Lansbury in Gaslight

Pale Writer

When I first watched Gaslight (1944), I was blown away by the standard of the performances overall. It is still my favourite Charles Boyer role, and I think that Ingrid Bergman really shows her capacity for exhaustive emotional depth in her portrayal of the beleaguered woman, desperate to not succumb to insanity. But I think that Angela Lansbury’s performance as the conniving, disrespectful and openly sexually mature young maid, who treats the lady of the house disparagingly and flirts with her husband in front of her, is my favourite performance of the film. That may seem like an odd thing to say. Her character is probably as unlikable as Charles Boyer’s, and almost as destructive, because she is complicit in his abuse of his wife. But what Angela Lansbury shows, is that she is one of the greatest actresses of her generation.

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