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Unquestionably, THE PICTURE OF DORIAN GRAY ($20) is one of the most memorable, lavish and hauntingly beautiful "horror" films to ever be produced under the auspices of MGM Studios during Hollywood’s golden age. Based upon the 1891 novel by Oscar Wilde, THE PICTURE OF DORIAN GRAY tells the story of Dorian Gray (Hurd Hatfield), an attractive young man of means, whom we meet, as the final touches are being placed on an exquisite full-length portrait of him. At his final sitting, Dorian meets the hedonistic Lord Henry Wotton (George Sanders), who espouses that the only thing worth pursuing in life is beauty, and the fulfillment of the senses. Reflecting on Lord Henry’s words, and realizing that his own youth and beauty will someday fade, Dorian make a wish that his portrait would age, instead of him.

After a disappointing romance with Sibyl Vane (Angela Lansbury), Dorian begins an existence of debauchery and cruelty the goes on for decades. However, neither time nor sin leave a mark on Dorian’s face, which appears as youthful and innocent as it was on the day his portrait was completed. The painting on the other hand, which has been hidden away for decades, reflects Dorian’s true age, not to mention every sin and the inner corruption of his soul. THE PICTURE OF DORIAN GRAY is a beautifully acted film that benefits greatly for the talent assembled by MGM for the production. Hatfield will be forever remembered for his embodiment of the ageless Dorian Gray. George Sanders is at his "professional cad" best as Wotton, who sets Dorian’s feet on the path to corruption. Angela Lansbury brings a heartbreaking quality to her Oscar nominated performance. The cast of THE PICTURE OF DORIAN GRAY also features Donna Reed, Peter Lawford and Lowell Gilmore.

Warner Home Video has made THE PICTURE OF DORIAN GRAY available on DVD in its proper 1.37:1 full screen aspect ratio. Warner’s black and white transfer (with Technicolor inserts) is the finest that, I have ever seen on this title. Harry Stradling’s Oscar winning cinematography is beautifully represented on this standard definition DVD. The glossy image is quite sharp and nicely detailed, which allows one to appreciate the sets and costumes. Blacks have a velvety quality and the whites are crisp. Contrast is very smooth. There are some age related blemishes appearing on the film elements. Mild grain is noticeable, but remains at expected levels. Digital compression artifacts are not a concern.

The Dolby Digital monaural soundtrack is quite nice for a film that is over six decades old. Most instances of background hiss and surface noise have been scrubbed away during the mastering process, leaving a relatively pleasant sounding track. As expected, one will find the expected limitations in fidelity that is generally associated with a film of this vintage. Even with the limited fidelity, Herbert Stothart’s music sounds rather nice. Dialogue is crisp and always completely understandable. No other language tracks have been included on the DVD, but English, French and Spanish subtitles are provided.

The basic interactive menus allow one access to the standard scene selection and set up features, as well as a few extras. Starting things off is a running Audio Commentary with actress Angela Lansbury and film historian Steve Haberman. The Passing Parade short Stairway To Light is also included, along with Oscar-winning Tom and Jerry cartoon Quiet Please! and a Theatrical Trailer.

THE PICTURE OF DORIAN GRAY is a cinematic classic that is beautifully rendered on DVD. Recommended.



The Picture of Dorian Gray (1945)



DVD reviews are Copyright © 2008 THE CINEMA LASER and may not be copied or reprinted without the written consent of the publisher.
THE CINEMA LASER is written, edited and published by Derek M. Germano.



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