Set in London, 1886 - The Picture of Dorian Gray is based on the classic novella by Oscar Wilde with the screenplay adapted by Albert Lewin,who was also the director of this classic. The film won an Oscar in 1946 for Best Cinematography (Harry Stradling, Jr.) and is an interesting combination of richly contrasted Black and White - with a few scenes of the picture in technocolor. An excellent movie - especially if you are familiar with the legal troubles of Oscar Wilde, and have read the story
Picture of Dorian Gray
Directed by - Albert Lewin
(1945) - B&W and Color - 111 min
In many ways - The picture of Dorian Gray mirrors the sorrowful life and legal troubles of Oscar Wilde, who was tried and convicted of amoral indecencies, for his indescretions with young male prostitutes and interludes with other gay men, especially the son of the eigth Marquess of Queensberry, a young man named was Alfred Douglas. In Victorian England, homosexuality was a serious offense, and his desires for other men were especially disturbing to Victorian Society (in our current society - homosexuality is now an accepted sexual orientation or as Jerry Seinfeld might say... he likes other guys... and not that there's anything wrong with that... yes, times have certainly changed). We found a fascinating web site that details the trial and legal troubles of Oscar Wilde, and thought you'd enjoy the fine research provided by Mark Gribben the author. Check it out - click here. You can also find the full text of The Picture of Dorian Gray on several web sites, and we encourage you to read the story, as it will make this film even more grotesque. Just search on google.com for The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde and you should find it with little problem.
Intro, B&W (with some color too), credits, etc. Lord Henry Wotten visits his friend Basil Hallward, a painter and inquires about an interesting portrait of a handsome young man. Eventually he learns that the picture is of a Victorian gentlemen named Dorian Gray. In a fateful moment, Dorian wishes that he could stay forever young and beautiful, and the that the painting could grow old. He offers his soul if this could be true - and it seems that the devil himself will grant this wish, and with it, ruin Dorian's life in the process. Also of note, Basil's daughter, the young Gladys, signs the painting. Later on, as she grows older - Gladys Hallward,played by a the ever attractive Donna Reed (best known as Jimmy Stewart's wife, Mary Hatch in Frank Capra's It's a Wonderful Life. And of course, she starred in the 1958 TV sitcom as Donna Stone in The Donna Reed Show)
with Angela Lansbury as the vauville singer Sibyl Vane
Donna Reed gets a new neck ornament. Diamonds are a girl's best friend as they say.
Opens with Dorian at a cafe with some street performers, working some puppets who are playing a xylophone with their feet. (hilarious - also check out episode eight of You asked for it to see a similar performance, very funny). The next act is a young singer named Sibyl Vane, played by Angela Lansbury, best known for her role in Murder She Wrote, and also as the Teapot in Disney's animated classic, Beauty and the Beast, where she sings - Be out Guest. Dorian woos young Sibyl and they plan to marry but the evil one, Lord Henry Wotten (Harry to his friends) puts some thoughts into Dorian's head - that she is just a vaudville tramp, and devises a plan to test poor Sibyl's chastity. In short, Harry feels Dorian can get all the benefits of marriage, without the wedding.... or as the saying goes.... why buy the cow when the milk is free. Dorian goes through with the plan, much to the amusement of Harry.
Lowell Gilmore as the painter and aristocrat, Basil Hallward
Dorian writes a scathing Dear John letter to Sibyl - who is crushed by the venomous words, and decides to commit suicide. Dorian noticies that his picture has changed slightly, with lines of cruelty around the mouth - but his own face remains unchanged. Dorian has a change of heart and decides to marry Sibyl anyway when he learns of her tragic fate from Harry, who tells him to just forget about it, and to cover his tracks. Basil, the painter of the picture, comes by to console Dorian only to find him devoid of all emotion. He asks to see the portrait - but Dorian refuses. Ironically, Basil tells Dorian how the picture seems to have a life of its own. We also learn of Dorian's visits to the abyss - where the movie alludes to the episodes of debauchery of our anti-hero - where Dorain goes to the wrong side of the tracks, we assume, to meet with his young boy prostitutes, just like the author Oscar Wilde himself. Meanwhile, Gladys Hallward (Donna Reed), Basils daughter develops a fondness for the perpetually young Dorian Gray.
Picture of Dorian Gray
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Donna Reed as Gladys Hallward, Basil's daughter
Gladys decides to dump her current boyfriend, David Stone, played by Peter Lawford, and ask Dorian to marry her. She gets a little spooked at Dorian's house when David asks about some skeletons in Dorian's closet. Dorian (Hurd Hatfield) continues with his emotionless performance bringing to mind Christopher Walken, another stone faced actor... as Gladys tries to probe him regarding his darkest secrets. Later, Basil confronts him about some terrible rumors circulating around the Victorian England social club scene, and Dorian decides to take him to the attic to view the picture. Then he decides to murder him to keep him quiet. To help cover up the murder, Dorian asks for help from his friend, Allen Campbell who refuses until Dorian threatens to reveal some unseamly momemts in the man's past. I believe he had a fling with Dorian as a younger man, that Dorian will reveal if he doesn't help him.
George Sanders as the diabolical Lord Henry Wotten, or just Harry to his friends.
Scotland Yard has found the body - that they think is Basil Hallward. Dorian does his best to console Gladys, and he is then informed that Alan Campbell, his friend who disposed of the body, has been found dead by his own hand. Further twists and turns bring the story to a climax - ending with the final demise of Dorian Gray when he attempts to destroy the picture that grows more hideous with each new act of sin that Dorian commits. This a terrific movie, especially if you check out the links we have provided on Oscar Wilde - so you can get the total picture.
Sometimes when the film shows the possessed painting, the film actually went to technocolor.
One of the Kennedy clan... Peter Lawford stars as Gladys' boyfriend, David Stone.
Dorian Gray is played by Hurd Hatfield, who never shows any emotion, perhaps the key to looking young. Or maybe sell your soul to the devil like Dorian.
Based on the story by Oscar Wilde