In Victorian London, a beautiful young man is given a portrait of himself by an admiring artist. Soon after this, he treats a young woman cruelly and then notices that his portrait seems to... See full summary »
In 1886, in the Victorian London, the corrupt Lord Henry Wotton meets the pure Dorian Gray posing for talented painter Basil Hallward. Basil paints Dorian's portrait and gives the beautiful painting and an Egyptian sculpture of a cat to him while Henry corrupts his mind and soul telling that Dorian should seek pleasure in life. Dorian wishes that his portrait could age instead of him. Dorian goes to a side show in the Two Turtles in the poor neighborhood of London and he falls in love with the singer Sibyl Vane. Dorian decides to get married with her and tells to Lord Henry that convinces him to test the honor of Sibyl. Dorian Gray leaves Sibyl and travels abroad and when he returns to London, Lord Henry tells him that Sibyl committed suicide for love. Along the years, Dorian's friends age while he is still the same, but his picture discloses his evilness and corruptive life. Can he still have salvation or is his soul trapped in the doomed painting? Written by
Claudio Carvalho, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
Years later, a friend of Hurd Hatfield's bought the Henrique Medina painting of young Dorian Gray that was used in the movie at the MGM auction, and gave it to Hatfield. On March 21, 2015 the portrait was put up for auction at Christie's in New York (from the Collection of Robert Hatfield Ellsworth) with a pre-auction estimate of between $5,000 to $8.000. It sold for $149,000. See more »
Adrian's chalk sketch of Dorian Gray on the table changes from shot to shot. See more »
[Referring to Dorian's shuttered room]
What rare things have you stored away there, Dorian?
Skeletons of inquisitive guests.
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The Picture Of Dorian Gray is an adaptation of Oscar Wilde's novel, and captures the tone of the story nicely but misses something in translation, namely Wilde's remarkable prose. It's a strange tale, about morality and art, with touches of diabolism and the supernatural, exquisitely rendered in language that is both breathtakingly poetic and strangely concrete. I see the story as a kind of fragmented autobiography, with Wilde as both Dorian and his portrait, as well as Basil Hallward, the man who made the painting. He is also, as author of the story, Lord Henry Wotton. Wilde is everywhere in this tale, which is fitting, as vanity is its major theme. The movie misses these delicate subtleties, so crucial to understanding the book, and the result is a genteel horror picture for the carriage trade.
As a horror movie, Dorian Gray has its virtues. The use of a handsome man as the monster, rather than some hideous creature, is in itself a virtue and a novelty. That Dorian's picture grows old as he does not, in conveyed gradually, first through barely noticeable changes in the picture's expressions, then by increased ugliness. I wish that director Albert Lewin had chosen a better painter for these later pictures, which are over the top in their weirdness, and out of keeping with the movie's refined tone. As to Dorian's journeying through the dives and dens of iniquity of late night Victorian London, I wish that these aspects of the story had been either a lot better presented and fleshed out or merely suggested by dialogue. If a movie is going to deal with degeneracy it should either show it or describe it vividly. The film succeeds when dealing with well-bred, upper class types in their fancy homes, but fails to deliver when dealing with the poor and the uneducated.
Hurd Hatfield as Dorian gives a good, cool performance. One is scarcely aware that the actor is American. He is a handsome man, but not so beautiful as the Dorian of the book, and he fails to light up the screen. Peter Lawford, who has a small part in the film, would have been much better, at least physically. George Sanders comes across as even more bored than usual as Lord Henry, and delivers his epigrams and asides with surprisingly little panache, especially given that he had shown himself to be master of this sort of thing on other occasions. Angela Lansbury's performance as the pathetic little cockney singer Dorian goes for, is very fine, though he part seems underwritten.
I wouldn't go so far as to say that director Lewin bungled his job, but the film overall succeeds only with Wilde's mood, not his ideas. This was a wonderful opportunity for Hollywood to take on a classic and give it a spin uniquely its own, as happened with the Sherlock Holmes pictures, the MGM Pride and Prejudice and the Cukor-Selznick David Copperfield. Dorian Gray succeeds well as light entertainment, with a few thrills along the way, but it never really soars or comes to life or catches the audience by surprise.
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