The Picture of Dorian Gray
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A Note Regarding Spoilers

The following FAQ entries may contain spoilers. Only the biggest ones (if any) will be covered with spoiler tags. Spoiler tags have been used sparingly in order to make the page more readable.

For detailed information about the amounts and types of (a) sex and nudity, (b) violence and gore, (c) profanity, (d) alcohol, drugs, and smoking, and (e) frightening and intense scenes in this movie, consult the IMDb Parents Guide for this movie. The Parents Guide for The Picture of Doran Gray can be found here.

Handsome and wealthy Londoner Dorian Gray (Hurd Hatfield) remains young, while a portrait of him ages more and more hideously as his life becomes one of evilness and corruption.

The Picture of Dorian Gray is a novel by Irish writer Oscar Wilde [1854-1900]. First appearing in the June 20th, 1890 edition of Lippincott's Monthly Magazine, the story was revised and published again in 1891. The novel was adapted for the movie by American film-maker Albert Lewin, who also directed the movie.

The story begins in 1886 London and takes place over an 18 year period during which the picture of Dorian Gray ages whereas Dorian does not.

Dorian Gray has his picture painted by an English painter, Basil Hallward (Lowell Gilmore). However, the magic that kept Dorian young while his picture aged did not come from Hallward's paintbrush but from a wish that Dorian made in the presence of a statue of the ancient Egyptian goddess Bast.

Actually, Dorian played two pieces by Frdric Chopin. One was "Prelude for Piano, Op. 28, No. 24 in D Minor (The Storm)", and the other was "Prelude in E, Op. 28 No. 4". Both were actually played by Lela Simone.

Blocks A, B, C, D, G, H, J, S, T, and V can be seen various times and in various combinations and are said to represent the initials of Dorian's victims. For example, the S and V most probably stand for Sybil Vane (Angela Lansbury). The B and H could refer to painter Basil Hallward, the D and S to David Stone (Peter Lawford), the A and C to Allen Campbell (Douglas Walton), the J and V to James Vane (Richard Fraser), the A and S to Adrian Singleton (Morton Lowry), the S and T to Sir Tristan, and the D and G to Dorian Gray himself.

Dorian blackmailed Allen. It's never stated over what, but it's hinted that Dorian and Allen were lovers, or at least Allen was gay and Dorian knew it. Dorian threatened to reveal Allen's sexuality to the public.

David Stone describes it thusly: "The original must be a monstrous person, if an original exists. It has a vague family resemblance to Dorian...a sort of middle-aged, mad, gruesome uncle with a debauched face and blood all over him." A photo of the portrait can be seen here.

How does the movie end?

After spending several days in Selby and seeing James Vane killed, Dorian's conscience gets the best of him, and Dorian decides to return to London. On his way back, his carriage passes David's carriage. They stare at each other for a moment and then continue on, Dorian to London and David to see Gladys (Donna Reed) and Lord Henry (George Sanders). David confesses to them that he had a key made and went snooping in Dorian's locked room, but he could not see anything except old toys and a portrait of a gruesome person who faintly resembled Dorian. Meanwhile, Dorian's plan is to run away and live in obscurity and self-denial in hopes that living a good and moral life will erase the ugliness that now covers his portrait. As Dorian looks at his portrait, however, he starts to worry that someone will discover it in his absence as well as to doubt his own strength to resist its temptations. Instead, he decides to destroy the portrait, so he plunges a knife through the canvas. Instead of destroying the canvas, however, the knife is plunged through Dorian's heart. As Dorian dies, the picture slowly begins to look younger until it finally looks like the day it was painted. Gladys, David, and Sir Henry suddenly rush through the door and find Dorian lying on the floor, his face horribly disfigured. In the final scene, a page from Omar Khayyam's Rubaiyat is shown. It reads: "I sent my Soul through the Invisible, some letter of the After-Life to spell: And by and by my Soul return'd to me, And answer'd: 'I Myself am Heaven and Hell.' "

Those who have both seen the movie and read the novel generally agree that the movie and the novel are different, most notably in the spirit or point of the story. The movie presents Dorian's struggle as being one of good versus evil, whereas the conflict in the novel centers on Dorian's vanity, such that, even his good deeds are selfish and narcissistic at heart. Consequently, the movie ending shows that Dorian's last act of kindness got transferred onto his painting, but in the novel Dorian sees a hypocritic leer in his portrait's eyes and realizes that his supposed good deed was really just to flatter his ego. Some viewers have suggested that this change may have been made to meet the moral requirements of the Hays Production Code (e.g., sins/crimes must be atoned for/punished, etc.). Another point of contention between novel and movie is how the character of Dorian is portrayed. Dorian Gray of the novel is described as more outgoing, charming, arrogant, and animated than the Dorian Gray of the movie, although the change to the introverted, silent, and rather emotionless movie Dorian may have been done in order to make him seem more sinister. Also of note is that the role of Gladys Hallward was created for the film as was David Stone, the rival for her affections.

Yes. Wilde's The Picture of Dorian Gray is in the public domain and can be downloaded for free from Project Gutenberg.

Page last updated by bj_kuehl, 2 months ago
Top Contributors: bj_kuehl, ElphabaofHighland

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