The Picture of Dorian Gray
Released – March, 1945
Directed By – Albert Lewin
Starring – George Sanders (Lord Henry Wotton), Hurd Hatfield (Dorian Gray), Donna Reed (Gladys Hallward), Angela Lansbury (Sibyl Vane), Peter Lawford (David Stone).
Description – His life was a muddy morass into which he dragged all who know him! Such was Dorian Gray, the man who wanted eternal youth, and bartered his soul to get it!
On the surface, Dorian Gray appears to have everything. He is handsome, wealthy, and intelligent, but the one thing he treasures most will pass with time. Dorian wants nothing more than to remain young forever.
While posing for a portrait, Dorian meets Lord Henry Wotton. It is Lord Wotton’s belief that the only life worth living is a life dedicated totally to pleasure, convincing Dorian that youth and beauty will bring one all that they desire.
Dorian now makes a wish, his wish is that the portrait would age rather than him. This wish is made in the presence of an ancient Egyptian statue of a cat-shaped goddess that supposedly has the power to grant wishes.
During a visit to a tavern, Dorian meets and falls in love with Sibyl Vane. Within weeks the pair are engaged and Dorian is as happy as ever. That is, until another fateful meeting with Lord Wotton. The Lord’s influence on Dorian again steers him in the direction of a life of hedonism and he sends a hurtful letter to Sibyl breaking their engagement.
The next day Lord Wotton informs Dorian that, upon receiving his letter, Sibyl has committed suicide. At first racked with guilt, Dorian begins to adopt the Lord’s manner of indifference and dedicates his life to pleasure.
One evening, after attending the opera, Dorian notices some subtle changes to his portrait. It seems to have aged, while Dorian, who is now nearly 40 years old. still appears to be 22. He decides to hide the painting from anyone but himself.
With each new sin and transgression the portrait seems to grow more ugly. During a visit with Dorian, Basil, the portrait’s artist, asks to view the painting. Dorian refuses, but Basis does accidently see the painting and is horrified.
He encourages Dorian to ammend the ways of his life, but this something that Dorian is in no hurry to do. In a panic, Dorian murders Basil locking his body in the same room as the painting.
It is only a matter or time before the ugliness of the painting makes the transition to the human body of Dorian Gray.
NOTABLE: The Portrait of Dorian Gray won the Oscar for Best Cinematography, Black-and-White, and was also nominated for Best Actress in a Supporting Role (Angela Lansbury), and Best Art Direction-Interior Decoration, Black-and-White.
Althouth filmed in Black-and-White, the picture does use the 3-strip Technicolor technique Dorian’s portrait in its original state and again after a period of degeneration.
The original portrait of the decayed Dorian Gray, painted by Ivan Le Lorraine Albright, took nearly one full year to complete and now hangs in the Art Institute of Chicago.
Actor Basil Rathbone tried in vain to get the part of Lord Wotton and believed his typecasting as Sherlock Holmes was the reason he was unsuccessful.