Thursday, May 11, 2017

The Picture of Dorian Gray (1945)

Director: Albert Lewin

Writers: Oscar Wilde, Albert Lewin

Composer: Herbert Stothart

Starring: George Sanders, Hurd Hatfield, Donna Reed, Angela Lansbury, Peter Lawford, Lowell Gilmore, Richard Fraser, Douglas Walton, Morton Lowry, Miles Mander, Lydia Bilbrook, Cedric Hardwicke

More info: IMDb

Tagline: His life was a muddy morass into which he dragged all who knew him! Such was Dorian Gray, the man who wanted eternal youth, and bartered his soul to get it!

Plot: A corrupt young man somehow keeps his youthful beauty, but a special painting gradually reveals his inner ugliness to all.

My rating:  7.5/10

Will I watch it again? Probably.

With solid performances, set/costume design, pacing, story, etc., this picture delivers.  Sanders has the best lines and does them justice.  He's so good at playing cads that you'd think he was one offscreen, too.  I'd like to think he wasn't, but he sells it so well.  Hatfield does a fine job, too.  At least I think he did.  I say that because he plays the role with such a lack of feeling and presents Gray as a man who had little emotion who tips the scale and grows even colder and callous with age.  I liked his performance but I'm curious to see how others have done it.  I wonder if this has ever been made as a straight up horror movie.  Dorian Gray is technically a serial killer after all.  This was his second feature and first in a starring role.  He does play it rather cold, so much that Sanders (as Lord Wotton) brings exuberant life to every scene he's in.  The paintings are magnificent, especially the ugly one as the years take their toll.  It's great seeing Angela Lansbury in an early role (her third feature) and she's quite good.  It's a good looking and intriguing film.  The large sets of the mansion are bigger than life and provide a beautiful and lush backdrop.  They almost swallow the players.  My favorite scene is the murder of a certain someone.  It reminded me of PSYCHO (1960) when the hanging light is bumped in the scuffle and it plays out the next few moments swaying back and forth, giving shade to the murderer.  In this case we have the added satisfaction of also seeing the silhouette of the victim appear and disappear.  It was brilliantly shot.  I'm a horror fan so if I were to change anything it would be to amp up the suspense and shock.  That wouldn't drastically alter the film but it would emphasize that take on the story.   


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