In 1886, in Victorian London, the corrupt Lord Henry Wotton (George Sanders) meets the pure Dorian Gray (Hurd Hatfield) posing for talented painter Basil Hallward (Lowell Gilmore). 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 him 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 singer Sibyl Vane (Dame Angela Lansbury). Dorian decides to marry her and tells Lord Henry, who 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. Throughout 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 ...Written by
Claudio Carvalho, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
Dame Angela Lansbury lost the Oscar for Best Actress in a Supporting Role to Anne Revere, who played her stalwart mother in the cherished family adventure, "National Velvet (1944)," a movie in which Lansbury was assigned what she long considered a secondary role. See more »
When Dorian is watching the entertainer who resembles Buddha, the line which marks the separators in canvas behind the entertainer's head changes. See more »
Lord Henry Wotton:
What is it that has really happened? Someone has killed herself who loved you. I wish I had had such an experience. The women who have admired me, and there have been some, have always insisted on living long after I've ceased to care for them or them for me.
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Some prints are slightly edited, omitting Dorian's (Hurd Hatfield) prayer and Lord Henry's (George Sanders) line, "Heaven forgive me" in the final scene. See more »
Hurd Hatfield sells his soul so that his portrait ages and reflects his evil while he stays young in "The Picture of Dorian Gray," based on the classic novel by Oscar Wilde. The film also stars George Sanders, Angela Lansbury, Donna Reed, and Peter Lawford. After wishing to stay young forever and falling prey to the words of a cynical friend, Gray goes against what might have been a decent nature and embarks on a vicious life that brings cruelty, sadness, and even death to those with whom he interacts.
The film is striking for several reasons: There is very little of what one would call action; many scenes are quite short; the film relies heavily on narration; the leading man's face remains impassive throughout. This could have been a recipe for disaster, but instead, "The Picture of Dorian Gray" is an extremely compelling film. This sumptuous production is meticulously photographed, with wonderful use of shadows which help create a dark atmosphere. The performances are excellent, particularly those of a very young Angela Lansbury and George Sanders. Peter Lawford and Donna Reed are the beautiful young things who don't have to depend on a portrait for youth.
Hurd Hatfield surely had one of the strangest faces in film - he certainly looked the part of a young, almost pretty Englishman, with his unlined face, high cheekbones, and full lips. As the role dictates, he was appropriately detached and lacking emotion. Six or seven years earlier, this role would have been perfect for Tyrone Power, who would have imbued it with more charm - making the evil inside Dorian all the more difficult to accept among his friends, and thus, his true personality would have seemed more treacherous. Given the way Hatfield played it, I had no problem believing he was capable of anything, and wondered why his friends didn't buy the nasty rumors.
As for the portrait - what a concept. Would that we all had one in our closets. It would put plastic surgeons out of business.
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