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The Sins of Dorian Gray (1983)
Beautiful and haunting update of Wilde's classic.
A beautiful modernized version of the Oscar Wilde classic, in which Belinda Bauer gives a moving and poignant performance as the title character, here a female model led astray by the temptations of evil in a sharp allegory of the real-life corruption of celebrity culture and the rich and famous. Anthony Perkins also gives a memorable performance as Henry Lord, the movie's answer to Wilde's legendary Lord Henry Wotton, here a fashion tycoon who takes advantage of Dorian's youthful naivety to seduce her into his corrupt view of life. Despite the modern setting, the storyline's structure is surprisingly close to Wilde's original novel with almost every character, major and minor, given a modern-day equivalent in the narrative. Dorian's gradual descent into total corruption and malevolence is depicted perfectly, as is the eventual destruction of the world and people around her.
A haunting, eerie and dreamlike atmosphere prevails throughout the movie, and the film's answer to the novel's portrait- a screen test on a gigantic screen that grows more repulsive with each sin Dorian commits- is genuinely creepy and disturbing. The beautiful and haunting theme song, sung exquisitely by Lisa D'Albello, is truly stunning and enhances the film's captivating atmosphere perfectly. As each cast member turns in an excellent performance, the film should have the viewer literally on the edge of their seat as it approaches its destructive climax, ending of course on a tragic note that strangely leaves us feeling somehow more sorry for the debased Dorian, and even for Henry (who seems to have mellowed from his corrupt ways after witnessing Dorian's decline), than in the novel.
While some viewers may naturally object to the radical shift in style from Wilde's classic, along with the feminization and thus heterosexualization of the lead character, and of course the absence of Wilde's legendary quotes, this should not dissuade anyone from viewing the film, which is executed as perfectly as could have been possible. Although the film was made for the big screen, it was unfortunately only ever shown on TV due to lack of interest and is virtually unknown to this day. This is a shame, for The Sins of Dorian Gray is a truly beautiful, moving and haunting film that ranks easily among the best ever filmic interpretations of Wilde's novel. A true overlooked work of beauty that should not be missed.
Victor Frankenstein (1977)
It's Alive! Oh My God, I have created a... colossal bore.
This made-for-TV version of the Frankenstein legend attempts with all good intention to be a thoroughly faithful version of Mary Shelley's novel. And that it certainly manages... but leaves character development, suspense and emotional depth somewhere by the wayside.
Mindlessly translating the events of the book page-by-page to the screen, the film neglects to cover its characters in any emotional depth. Leon Vitali is a great bore as Victor Frankenstein (while unattractive enough that he may have been better cast in the role of the monster!), while the creature itself lacks all of its traditional sympathetic traits. The frightened, misguided and hurt creature of the novel and most movie adaptations is here just a banal, generic villain who isn't even that monstrous in appearance. As is sadly the case with even a lot of the better adaptations of the story, his alleged ugliness and deformity is so minor and subtle that it's hard to fathom how anyone could be scared of him based purely on his appearance. Here he resembles a lipstick-wearing rocker rather than any kind of monster... not only would he barely turn heads if placed on the street but he'd probably get all the goth and rock chicks swooning for him! Supporting cast members add nothing to the whole sorry affair either- Elizabeth, in her minimal number of scenes, is particularly annoying and you wonder why she keeps insisting on marrying Victor when they don't share a single intimate or affectionate moment throughout the whole movie and she's done nothing but complain about how he doesn't love her enough.
As a previous reviewer mentioned, the bizarre lack of incidental music does not help the film in the slightest, the camera angles and directing style are unimaginative and create no suspense, and ultimately we end up just not caring what happens to any of these characters in the end. The only real moments of genuine entertainment along the way are a few unintentionally funny moments of bad acting.
As it stands, this amateurish production is by far the weakest of all the numerous TV versions of the story, and is for completists only. For anyone wishing to see a good solid version of Mary Shelley's classic tale, skip this and go for the two far superior TV versions from 1973, namely the legendary "Frankenstein: The True Story" and the brilliantly acted Dan Curtis-directed version starring Bo Svenson.