The Picture of Dorian Gray, Happy Anniversary! Premiered, Saturday, March 3, 1945

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The Picture of Dorian Gray was directed by Albert Lewin, who seldom took the director’s chair ( just 7 credits over 15 years) and is highlighted by the superb Oscar winning work by Harry Stradling Sr. for Black and White cinematography, guiding the viewer through the Gray skewed landscape, coupled with the eerie Academy Award nominated Black and White Art Direction by Cedric Gibbons and Hans Peters, Interior Decoration by Edwin B. Willis, Hugh Hunt, John Bonar, (in year they probably should have won the Oscar), Gray is a powerful piece of preternatural picture making. And not forgetting Angela Lansbury’s performance as Sibyl Vane, she won the Golden Globe for Best Supporting Actress and gathered an Oscar nomination for the same catagory; The Picture of Dorian Gray, was her third film and her second Academy Award nomination (Gaslight, 1944, was her first). George Sanders, Donna Reed and Peter Lawford acquitted themselves nicely, but it was Hurd Hatfield who really changed the fortunes of Gray, his restrained, haughty, lustful, pretended erudite façade of Dorian was a masterful turn, a potential reached, that he would never duplicate in his career (few others have achieved such degradation of character), or come close to this notable, Oscar worthy (yes, it was a weak field in the Best Actor category[i]) performance.

All of Oscar Wilde’s cautionary chiding against excess, lust, greed, and narcissism are kept intact for this film version, and even though it was made in 1945, the clarity of the debauched lifestyle, the carelessness, the harshness comes through in vivid faithfulness. I have included some excerpts from contemporary film-critics; the Picture of Dorian Gray is available on DVD, I hope you enjoy this unforgettable movie as much I do.

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By C. S. Williams

[i] Bing Crosby, The Bells of St. Mary’s {Father O’Malley)

Gene Kelly, Anchors Aweigh (Joseph Brady)

Ray Milland, The Lost Weekend (Don Birnam)

Gregory Peck, The Keys of the Kingdom (Father Francis Chisholm)

Cornel Wilde, A Song to Remember (Frederick Chopin)


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