Lively, entertaining reviews of, and essays on, old and newer films and everything relating to them, written by professional author William Schoell.

Thursday, February 19, 2009

THE PICTURE OF DORIAN GRAY


THE PICTURE OF DORIAN GRAY (1945). Directed by Albert Lewin.

"I adore simple pleasures. They're the last refuge of the complex."

This adaptation of Oscar Wilde's brilliant novel of fantasy and manners may have made some changes from the book -- it's been awhile since I read it -- but it's still a fascinating story and an excellent movie. Hurd Hatfield gives a memorable performance as the young Dorian Gray, who wishes a bit too fervently that he would always stay young while his portrait ages, which is just what happens. His life becomes increasingly wicked (although some of the stuff he's up to surely wouldn't raise an eyebrow in 2009!) but the severity of his crimes intensifies as his portrait becomes increasingly hideous. George Sanders gets to deliver in his inimitable style some of Wilde's wittiest ripostes, such as "When her third husband died her hair turned quite gold from grief" and "To get back my youth I'd do anything except get up early, exercise, and be respectable." Angela Lansbury, Richard Fraser, and Lowell Gilmore are also noteworthy, as are many of the other supporting performers. The various technicolor shots of Dorian's portrait are striking and eventually quite horrific. Completely absorbing, handsomely produced, and adroitly directed. Top-notch!

Verdict: "To regain one's youth, one most only repeat one's follies." ***1/2.

2 comments:

Livius said...

A really stylish film, of course anything with George Sanders has built in class. I waited a long time to get this one on DVD and Warners duly provided a beautiful transfer last year.

William said...

Yes, Sanders is one of my favorite actors. People have said that he basically played the same character in every movie, but even if that were true he always plays with class and distinction. There was nobody else like him.