In the 1944 classic GASLIGHT, duplicitous Charles Boyer torments wife Ingrid Bergman, hoping to drive her into an insane asylum. The film brought Bergman her first Oscar and inspired the term “gaslighting” to describe cruel, deceptive mind games played by one spouse upon the other (with rare exceptions - such as LEAVE HER TO HEAVEN - it’s generally the husband responsible for the dirty deeds).
The premise lends itself perfectly to suspense films, and Alfred Hitchcock used it brilliantly in DIAL M FOR MURDER, as Ray Milland calls upon a hit man to dispatch wife Grace Kelly. Equally devious is Merry Widow serial killer Joseph Cotten in SHADOW OF A DOUBT; see both of these favorites in a 3-D/2-D double bill on “Hitchcock Appreciation Day.”
Gaslighting gets a supernatural twist in ROSEMARY’S BABY, DIABOLIQUE and the new THE LOVE WITCH, whose director, Anna Biller, is a longtime connoisseur of cinematic tales of torment. In her film, a young sorceress (Samantha Robinson) obsessed with conjuring up romance attracts a string of losers before being driven to the brink of madness by the man of her dreams.
Etheria Film Night co-founder Heidi Honeycutt has more to say about our "Gaslighting and Tormenting" series here.
Series programmed by Anna Biller and Grant Moninger. Program notes by John Hagelston.