- Picture of Dorian Gray review by Steve
MGM period horror with excellent production values and photography. This is a faithful adaptation of Oscar Wilde's novel. Dorian (Hurd Hatfield) is gifted his most solemn desire, that he may stay young and beautiful in order to live a hedonistic life while all the inevitable signs of debauchery are displayed on the enchanted painting he keeps hidden from public view.
Hatfield is a cypher, little more than mask, which is appropriate for a story which is all about surfaces. Most of the Wildean epigrams are delivered by George Sanders. He does pretty well with dialogue that is easier to read than to speak. Angela Lansbury as the Cockney music hall entertainer, who Gray destroys, and Donna Reed, as the rich beauty he aspires to, are both archetypes, but perfect for rich gothic melodrama.
There is a splendid recreation of Victorian London, and I particularly like the expressionistic look of the dens of vice where Gray goes slumming. There's a scene in an opium dive/brothel towards the end of the film which is so engorged with louche decadence that it steals the film.
For my money this is the best screen Oscar Wilde adaptation. It is heavy with period atmosphere but director Lewin doesn't let it slow down his narrative. And it's a great Faustian story, which in spite of its typically provocative Wildean irony, is a moral tale. It is b&w but the introduction of colour, when we first see the portrait and later, when it has absorbed all of Dorian's wickedness, is a striking touch.
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