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Sunday, October 11, 2009

THE PICTURE OF DORIAN GRAY (1945)


The airless quality associated with too many overdressed M-G-M pics of the ‘40s works to the advantage of Albert Lewin’s chilly Oscar Wilde adaptation. The great story, a devil’s bargain to remain youthfully beautiful while one’s portrait ages into a monstrous grotesque, is a conceit you can believe in and there’s still a strong jolt of horror when the TechniColor portrait blasts past the monochrome footage. Producer Pandro Berman deserves a lot of credit for giving scripter/helmer Albert Lewin his literary head on this one and in casting the film with so many superb character actors. George Sanders, a standout in Lewin’s underappreciated Maugham adaptation, THE MOON AND SIXPENCE/’42, is brilliant as the Wilde surrogate and the young Angela Lansbury is unforgettable as a sweetly naïve lower-class object of devotion. Those wounded eyes! Hurd Hatfield tips toward waxworks as Dorian (and isn’t quite up to the handsome faux Sargent portrait), but he’s highly effective in the role which is more than can be said for poor Donna Reed who’s simply out of her depth as the spirited upper-class girl blinded by Dorian’s unchanging facade.

CONTEST: Right after the credits, composer Herbert Stothart quotes a famous street song that was prominently featured in a Best Picture Oscar winner. Name the film & the song's title to win our usual prize, a MAKSQUIBS write-up on the NetFlix DVD of your choice.

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