Angel Street is the US title for Gas Light, the acclaimed 1938 play by the British dramatist Patrick Hamilton. Set in a fog-bound London in 1880, it tells the tale of the cruel and cold-hearted Jack Manningham who is pushing his wife Bella to the verge of insanity. And just how that is linked to the strange noises upstairs and the dimming gaslights in their Victorian London house is the mystery that unfolds with scintillating style…
First staged at the Apollo Theatre in London’s West End, Gas Light ran for six months from December 1938.
In 1940, Anton Walbrook and Diana Wynyard starred in an Anglo-American screen adaptation that was released on 25 June, before the play headed to Broadway the following year (under its new title), where it premiered at the John Golden Theatre on 5 December, before transferring to the Bijou Theatre on 2 October 1944. It closed on 30 December 1944 after 1295 performances.
Directed by Shepard Traube, the cast featured Vincent Price and Judith Evelyn as Jack and Bella Manningham, as well as Leo G. Carroll, Florence Edney and Elizabeth Eustis.
Another film adaptation of the play was made in 1944 (released 4 May), reverting to the original title, Gaslight (in the UK it was called The Murder in Thornton Square), with Charles Boyer and Ingrid Bergman in the leads. Nominated for 7 Oscars, it ended up winning Best Production Design and a Best Actress gong for Bergman.
While George Cukor’s production is handsomely mounted, it really isn’t as atmospheric as the 1940 version, and one can only imagine how it could have turned out had Price and Evelyn been given the chance to transfer their stage roles to the big screen.
On 6 June 1953, however, the two stars reunited to dramatise the play as one-hour radio play for NBC’s Best Plays selected by New York theatre critic John Chapman, which you can hear in full at the bottom of this post. And on 9 May 1958, Leo G Carroll joined Price and Evelyn for a TV adaptation for the NBC Daytime series Matinee Theatre. However, I have yet to track down a recording of that.
The story was also dramatised in 1946 as a one-hour radio production on Lux Radio Theatre featuring Charles Boyer and Ingrid Bergman, while half-hour radio play appeared on the 3rd February 1947 broadcast of The Screen Guild Theater, starring Charles Boyer and Susan Hayward.
NBC BEST PLAYS PRESENTS… ANGEL STREET with Vincent Price and Judith Evelyn