The Picture of Dorian Gray Reviews
The premise of this movie is great, and I feel the filmmakers could have made something very special with this premise. This Dorian Gray receives a portrait at the beginning of the story, and he makes an observation that he will age while the portrait will conserve his youth, but he makes a "wish" in a sense that the reverse could happen, and what do you know, it does.
In a way this story is like the opposite of the popular story Beauty and the Beast: Dorian's corrupt nature is hidden inside his youthful appearance for decades. It is hard to tell when time passes in the film since Dorian never ages while new characters/actors are introduced throughout the film. I did not realize for a while that Donna Reed's character was an older version of a kid at the beginning of the film. The only clear indication that time had passed for me was when somebody states "Dorian Gray has looked 22 for the past twenty years" (not sure if twenty is the correct number).
The most interesting segments of this film are the moments when Dorian revisits his portrait to find the picture magically altered to show a hideous beast instead of his youthful self - it illustrates his corrupt soul which nobody can see with the naked eye.
Unfortunately, the film feels very long with little excitement happening to entertain the audience. Not every movie needs to be entertaining, and I like "high culture" films, but the thematic content simply did not make up for the slow pace of the film in my opinion.
In 1886 Dorian Gray is an awkward socialite that is good for the most part. He meets a corrupt Lord Henry Wotten who decides to tell Dorian to travel abroad despite the love of his life being home. Meanwhile, Dorian heads into the slums of London and has a strange painter paint his image. When Dorian returns from his trip, he discovers his lover killed herself and he will no longer age; instead, the image of himself in the painting ages. Unfortunately, Dorian's new state makes him worse and worse as a person. Is Dorian doomed to be a young, egotistical, ever living figure with his true self trapped in the painting or will Dorian find a way out of this mess?
"I have all I need: drink, drugs, and no friends."
Albert Lewin, director of Pandora and the Flying Dutchman, The Moon and Sixpence, The Private Affairs of Bel Ami, and The Living Idol, delivers The Picture of Dorian Gray. The storyline for this picture is very well done as the settings, costumes, dialogue, and feel all fit the content perfectly. The acting was also very good as the cast includes George Sanders, Angela Lansbury, Donna Reed, Hurd Hatfield, and Miles Mander.
"He has gone to kill your friend."
"Justice has come to England."
I came across this film a long time ago on Turner Classic Movies (TCM) and decided to DVR this gem. I am glad I did. The content unfolds so well and the characters are fascinating. Dorian Gray is an underrated and interesting historical character in the mold of Dracula and Frankenstein. I strongly recommend seeing this.
"I apologize for the intelligence of my remarks."
Finally, Wilde's tale is adapted faithfully. In this film version, Dorian is not a magical superhero/villain a la The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen or a horribly corrupt murderer a la Dorian Gray. He is instead appropriately narcissistic and tortured. Within Hurd Hatfield's performance is a healthy conscience that manifests in his eyes but not the rest of his physiognomy. The real improvement comes in the performance of George Sanders who captures Wilde's Lord Henry perfectly. Dorian Gray with Colin Firth posited that depravity was the logical extension of Lord Henry's philosophy, but Sanders's performance correctly captures what Wilde might have said: that fun is the logic extension of Lord Henry's philosophy. There's a big jump between a philosophy that deifies the aesthetic and a philosophy that finds beauty in murder. This seems like an obvious point, but of the adaptations I've seen, only director Albert Lewin seems to understand it.
Overall, if you really hate reading but still want to see a version of Oscar Wilde's novel, then see this one.