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Nominated for Best Picture, Gaslight demonstrated Ingrid Bergman's ability to cast a spell on screen. Directed by George Cukor, known for working with Hollywood's greatest female stars, the tale expertly weaves a film noir-ish tale of deception to the utmost degree.
1. Hedy Lamarr was considered.
At least, that’s what she claimed. Irene Dunne’s name was also floated. However, by the time Director George Cukor boarded the project Ingrid Bergman was the lead. "Ingrid Bergman had no difficulty in grasping the character of Paula Alquist's essential frailty, but she would complain, 'Oh, I look so healthy,’” Cukor said. “However, I think healthy people can be frightened. In fact, very often it's perhaps more moving."
2. Cukor and Bergman became friends.
Before they clicked, Bergman had to get used to the director’s style. Between takes, Cukor would keep his actors busy talking to keep them on edge for the next shot. Once Bergman understood his method and that he didn’t doubt her acting ability, they bonded. Speaking to Cukor, Ingrid said, "You were a godfather to all your actors. You always loved actors."
3. It was Bergman’s first Oscar.
In 1945, Bergman won the Best Actress Academy Award for her performance. She would go on to win two more Oscars. Ingrid said, “[Cukor was] always encouraging, and I loved receiving my first Oscar. It was wonderful, and I owe it to [George], and to Charles Boyer and Joe Cotten, and others.” Bergman considered the film one of her favorites and one of her greatest performances.
4. Joseph Cotten made two films simultaneously.
While making Gaslight, he was also in Since You Went Away, which starred Claudette Colbert, Jennifer Jones, and Shirley Temple. According to Cotten, Temple confessed years later to having a crush on him at the time. Cotten found love on the set of Gaslight too. "I met and truly fell for Ingrid on a completely nonromantic level. We've been buddies ever since," Cotten said.
5. Cotten and Bergman played dress-up at a party.
While filming, the pair were supposed to attend a party hosted by producer David Selznick, despite having an early call time the next day. Not wanting to be on parade for the guests, Cotten and Bergman donned disguises as “the help.” They even passed out hors d'oeuvres without being noticed by anyone, including Louis B. Mayer's daughter.
6. Billing almost cost Bergman the part.
Boyer wanted top billing, and as a result, Bergman almost wasn’t loaned out to MGM for the part. However, she begged David Selznick and convinced him she didn’t want top billing. Bergman said, “I wanted so much to do the film, and I learned that there was an argument about which of us would receive top billing… So petty."
7. Charles Boyer was shorter.
He had to stand on a box to kiss Ingrid Bergman and wore boots to gain inches. Bergman said, “Charles Boyer was a splendid actor and one of the finest men I have ever worked with.” Cotten added, "Charles was a master actor; I believe his is the film's best performance. My part was the third wheel."
8. A Victorian set was built.
Cotten said, "A complete Victorian house was constructed -- and, in fact, a whole row of them – for Thornton Square. The set on the back lot was there for the next twenty-five years." Cukor consulted with Paul Huldschinsky, a refugee from Germany with "enormous taste" and used George du Maurier's cartoon drawings for reference. "That gave us a great deal of the proper late-Victorian atmosphere, as well as an interesting visual quality," Cukor said.