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The Picture of Dorian Gray (1945) Review

Updated on April 8, 2017

Director: Albert Lewin

Starring: Hurd Hatfield (Dorian Gray), George Sanders (Lord Henry Wotton), Lowell Gilmore (Basil Hallward), Donna Reed (Gladys Hallward), Angela Lansbury (Sybil Vane)

Country of Origin: USA

The Picture of Dorian Gray is based on the titular Oscar Wilde novel (and one of my personal favorite works of literature). So naturally, I had trouble not comparing the movie to the novel. Though admittedly, doing so did not hinder my enjoyment as one may think. I was amazed by how close this movie was to the novel, and the changes it did make did seem to be for the better. Anyway, if you’ve read the novel, you pretty much already know how the movie goes. Much of the dialogue and narration is even lifted verbatim from the novel.

It even begins with Lord Henry Wotton arriving at his friend Basil Hallward’s house to see the painting the latter had been working on in secret. And this is where he first laid eyes on the youthful beauty that was Dorian Gray. Mr. Gray would arrive suddenly shortly thereafter, playing the piano as if to announce his arrival. By the end of the scene, Henry will have gotten Dorian to appreciate his youth so well that he makes a Faustian bargain with the painting. In doing so, Dorian is gradually driven into a life of hedonism and depravity. During this journey, he acquires two love interest—one his first victim and the other his only hope for salvation.

Overall, this movie was exceptional. It’s a horror movie, but it wasn’t treated the same way Hollywood usually treats the genre. In other words, this is a very well made movie that happens to be scary. Both the cinematography and acting, in particular, need to be praised. Just watch the scene when Basil gets murdered.


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