The Picture of Dorian Gray (1945)

DailyView: Day 177, Movie 259

Continuing on the DailyView, today is a 1945 horror/drama film that was based on a novel written in 1890 by Oscar Wilde: The Picture of Dorian Gray.

I was originally introduced to the character of Dorian Gray through the comic book/movie The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, and I will say that the idea of the character and his aging portrait was one that certainly exceeded the time of Oscar Wilde. Where he came up with such a novel and intriguing concept is fascinating.

Dorian Gray (Hurd Hatfield) had a portrait painted of him by a well-known artist, Basil Hallward (Lowell Gilmore). Dorian was young and wealthy. However, when he gazed upon the picture painted, he waxed poetically. He wished that he could always remain as young as he was now and that it was the painting that would become old and wrinkled. That wish would come true, complicating Dorian Gray’s life and sending him down the road of sin.

The film included a performance from a young Angela Lansbury as a beautiful singer, Sybil Vane, who was in love with Dorian and killed herself after Dorian sent her a letter breaking off their engagement.

The biggest issue with the movie was that the passage of time was muddled. It was difficult to know how long the time frame was and, since that is an important part of the film, that caused some uncertainty.

Still, the story is well told and the performances are good. Dorian Gray is an excellent villain as our protagonist. He is more than just an evil man, as some perceived him as during the film. He was lost in his life, the pain and isolation that he was facing and the dark word of mouth that he was dealing with in the community.

There is no debating that Dorian Gray did some callous, downright wicked things in his lifetime, but there is more beneath the surface of the character than just that and this is why this story has survived since the 1890s. The film does a good job of laying out this conflict within the main character.

The film is also beautifully shot in black and white and only veering into color once, which was a most disturbing moment of the film.

This is definitely a classic movie that I am glad I had a chance to watch.

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