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  • I have always admired the work of Oscar Wilde, and 'The Picture of Dorian Gray' has been one of my favourite examples of his work, since I read it at about aged 12.

    It has been made into films a few times, with varying degrees of success.

    The earlier 1945 film version with Hurd Hatfield and George Sanders was the epitome, in my opinion, and has yet to be equalled.

    This 1980's TV-movie version is another attempt, and is certainly off-beat. It moves the tale up into the (late) 20th century, and this poses some stretching of the imagination when it comes to the characters, although it would have made location shooting a lot simpler....

    In this version, the most obvious deviation was the choice of making Dorian a female, played quite well by the gorgeous Belinda Bauer, who we had seen earlier, in 'Archer, Fugitive of the Empire'.

    In this case, the 'picture' of Dorian is a film screen test on celluloid that she makes at the beginning, and after she makes her wish for eternal youth and beauty, she feels that she must secrete this film away, and protect it, so that no ill will happen to her.

    After this, she goes off and seduces whomever she fancies, drinks and parties just as she wishes, while the cine film slowly assumes the ageing and the scars of her debauchery. Meanwhile, all her friends and colleagues around her age at their natural paces, and they cannot believe that Dorian is still young and beautiful.

    Occasionally, she sets up the projector, and in the privacy of her own home, plays the screen test. In each subsequent re-playing, her image is noticeably older and more depraved looking. Towards the end, the image is almost unbelievably ugly and dishevelled, and this of course, brings things to a head, as expected.

    I found the film to be completely likable, and the characters were good to watch, although a little contrived. Never mind, this IS a B-grade TV movie.

    Anthony Perkins plays Anthony Perkins to a tee in this just sit there, waiting for the Norman Bates character to appear, but it doesn't. It's one of his 'goodie' roles.....

    I still have this on Beta (Say What?) tape, and I haven't watched it for about 15 years, so tonight, I'll open a bottle of Cabernet Sauvignon, and run that film just one more time.......for the buzz.

    And for Belinda...

    "The Opener of the Way is Waiting"
  • Warning: Spoilers
    Though this movie's pretty obscure, this little review still contains a slight spoiler.

    "The Sins of Dorian Gray" is one of Rankin/Bass's odd live-action efforts, which sees Oscar Wilde's novel updated to the present and given a sex change - Anthony Perkins notwithstanding, Belinda Bauer plays Dorian, a young woman whose screen test (instead of a portrait) plucks her from obscurity to fame and fortune. But as the years go by and she becomes more twisted and hideous inside while her screen test shows the effects of the years, she resorts to more and more dangerous measures to keep her secret (with particularly unfortunate results for photographer Michael Ironside).

    Shot in Canada, this isn't nearly as creepy as Dan Curtis's earlier TV adaptation of the novel (which was a more traditional take on the yarn), and the attempt to bring a new take on the ending doesn't quite work.


    Just as Dorian in the novel brought the spell and his life to an end by stabbing the painting, so Dorian in this movie is driven to stabbing her screen image and killing it and her, but it's less direct and a bit senseless (wouldn't burning the actual reel have been more effective? Although we would have been denied the final shot of the decrepit Dorian lying dead next to the image of how she once was, while the eerie title song plays).


    Anthony Perkins did, however, make worse movies in his career. And since Heather Locklear doesn't seem to have aged that much since her days on "T.J. Hooker," it makes you wonder...
  • A beautiful modernized version of the Oscar Wilde classic, in which Belinda Bauer gives a moving and poignant performance as the title character, here a female model led astray by the temptations of evil in a sharp allegory of the real-life corruption of celebrity culture and the rich and famous. Anthony Perkins also gives a memorable performance as Henry Lord, the movie's answer to Wilde's legendary Lord Henry Wotton, here a fashion tycoon who takes advantage of Dorian's youthful naivety to seduce her into his corrupt view of life. Despite the modern setting, the storyline's structure is surprisingly close to Wilde's original novel with almost every character, major and minor, given a modern-day equivalent in the narrative. Dorian's gradual descent into total corruption and malevolence is depicted perfectly, as is the eventual destruction of the world and people around her.

    A haunting, eerie and dreamlike atmosphere prevails throughout the movie, and the film's answer to the novel's portrait- a screen test on a gigantic screen that grows more repulsive with each sin Dorian commits- is genuinely creepy and disturbing. The beautiful and haunting theme song, sung exquisitely by Lisa D'Albello, is truly stunning and enhances the film's captivating atmosphere perfectly. As each cast member turns in an excellent performance, the film should have the viewer literally on the edge of their seat as it approaches its destructive climax, ending of course on a tragic note that strangely leaves us feeling somehow more sorry for the debased Dorian, and even for Henry (who seems to have mellowed from his corrupt ways after witnessing Dorian's decline), than in the novel.

    While some viewers may naturally object to the radical shift in style from Wilde's classic, along with the feminization and thus heterosexualization of the lead character, and of course the absence of Wilde's legendary quotes, this should not dissuade anyone from viewing the film, which is executed as perfectly as could have been possible. Although the film was made for the big screen, it was unfortunately only ever shown on TV due to lack of interest and is virtually unknown to this day. This is a shame, for The Sins of Dorian Gray is a truly beautiful, moving and haunting film that ranks easily among the best ever filmic interpretations of Wilde's novel. A true overlooked work of beauty that should not be missed.
  • Dorian Gray (female) started to age just like the real Dorian Gray (male) in Oscar Wild's novel. Disappointingly boring. This flick deserves one out of ten.
  • I've been seeking adaptations of Oscar Wilde's novel since reading it, which is something I've also recently done with Bram Stoker's "Dracula" and Mary Shelley's "Frankenstein," but there aren't as many Dorian Gray movies available as there are for the other two, so I've been scraping the bottom of the barrel, and this awful 1980s TV movie is at the bottom. It does try to do two semi-novel things in reworking the book, which is welcome, but it entirely mucks them up and, consequently, has very little to do with what Wilde's story is actually about.

    One of those semi-novel things is the gender reversal, that Dorian Gray is a woman here. (A now-lost 1915 film adaptation also starred a woman.) I saw a 2007 TV "Frankenstein" movie that did something interesting with a similar gender reversal of its eponymous character. Not so here. Rather, all of the gay subtext of Wilde's tale is gone, although I doubt there would be much left even if this TV movie cast a man as Dorian. This fem Dorian only flirts with the opposite sex, but we never see or are explicitly told that she ever has any liaisons. She begins the movie as a waitress and aspiring artist and becomes a successful model for beauty products. Absurdly, this lands her photograph on the covers of Life, Newsweek and Time magazines. Right, as if that ever happens for mere models. An elderly Henry picks up the Newsweek one, which is inscribed, "What ever happened to Dorian Gray?" It must've been a slow news week.

    Like the 2007 "Frankenstein" TV movie, this one is also updated to the present, and it reverses the genders of a few other characters. Instead of Sibyl Vane, it's Stuart Vane, and rather than him being a Shakespearean actor as Sibyl was in the book, he's a singing piano player who prefers to perform at a bar where nobody listens to him because of his stage fright and, perhaps, he has some kind of drug problem. He's also married with a baby on the way and rides a motorcycle. Like the book, Dorian falls out of love with her/him because of their failure to perform, but in this case the lack of performance is unintentional, as it's due to Vane's anxiety. There's also no Basil, the painter of Dorian's portrait, here, but Henry's wife, renamed Angela, is a filmmaker who replaces him.

    This is the other semi-novel concept of this one: instead of a painting, the picture of Dorian Gray is a motion picture, or rather a screen test for a role that Dorian ultimately doesn't accept. (This is similar to the use video surveillance for the Dorian-esque character in "Phantom of the Paradise" (1974).) The scene is of Dorian's portrait being painted, like the scene of Basil and Dorian in the book. Since this Dorian is female and the "Basil" in the screen test is male, however, again, there's no homoeroticism. This alteration from the source is full of interesting self-reflexive possibilities, and this TV movie does next to nothing with it, except to cause the ending to make less sense. Removing Vane from being an actor also subtracts the self-reflexive potential of acting, of a play-within-a-play.

    On top of these failures, there are two unnecessary flashforwards. Bernard Hoffer's song of the same name is loudly and annoyingly played a few times in lieu of anything happening in the way of plot. Henry is the narrator, Alan Campbell is a photographer now, and the book's ambiguously gay blackmail plot is reduced to collecting on an IOU. A Tracy character invented for this movie comes out of nowhere--well, actually she comes from just the scene prior--to accuse Dorian of murder, which begs the questions of how does Tracy know this, why does she care and why would we care about her opinion on the matter? The movie lacks all of the aestheticism and hedonism of the original. Although renamed "The Sins of," the only sins the movie shows are murder. No sex. No drugs. Dorian has a party at her relatively-small apartment, which includes drag queens--the closest, I guess, this adaptation comes to transgressiveness, but all they're doing is watching TV. Wilde wrote his novel in the Victorian age and yet his prose was far more daring than this regressive 1980s TV dreck. He had to allude to a lot, but even his Dorian explicitly went to an opium den, had affairs with various women and made a mockery of religion. This TV Dorian is told to pray by Henry, and she dutifully does just that!

    The acting is wretched, too. Dorian goes from a grinning fool to a sobbing, wining and sniveling drama queen. And this is the worst Lord Henry I've ever seen. I love "Psycho" (1960), but I'm not sure Anthony Perkins can act hardly at all, especially if this movie is any indication. It's bad enough that the movie removes almost all of Wilde's epigrams given voice by Henry, and that they largely removed his immorality. Perkins is wooden in the part: he delivers his lines with odd pauses and speaks as though out of the side of his mouth, and his movements are stiff and sometimes artificially abrupt. Even the other bad Dorian Gray movies I've seen tend to have the saving grace of the wit of Wilde's original Lord Henry, but here, the saving grace for this Henry may be that it's so bad in every way that Perkins is somewhat disguised.
  • Just as R.L. Stevenson's quintessential dual-personality tale was revamped by Hammer as DR. JEKYLL AND SISTER HYDE (1971), it was not inconceivable that Oscar Wilde's similar narrative would be rethought on distaff lines. The result is quite tolerable under the circumstances but, emanating from the Rankin/Bass stable (renowned for animated kiddie fare!), it was deemed to have merely scraped the surface of what was basically a critique of the moral decay overtaking Victorian society (epitomized by the notorious Jack The Ripper killings). Not unexpectedly, then, the theme of the novel was updated to contemporary times and transposed to the glitzy fashion world of L.A. (making the whole feel rather like a typical "Emmanuelle" entry but without the copious nudity!): here, the protagonist becomes a modeling celebrity but, unwisely, the all-important "picture" is made out to be screen-test footage, cue unconvincing make-up effects to illustrate its increasing degeneration and, played over and over during the course of the movie, it proves quite enervating! Therein, however, lays its major problem: since the plot is supposed to unfold in the space of 30 years, the look (sets, costumes, hairstyles) throughout never changes to reflect this passage of time, which history books attest to having been pretty considerable! Anyway, the film essentially rests on the shoulders of its variable cast – led by Anthony Perkins in the Lord Henry Wotton persona (creatively redubbed Henry Lord!) and Belinda Bauer (not too bad considering, but perhaps managing best the bitchy aspects of the title role, and which would subsequently typecast her!). Olga Karlatos appears as Perkins' wife and rival(!) for Dorian's services (and affections?), Joseph Bottoms the pseudo-singer/pianist who captures her heart if only for a little while (precipitating his suicide) and Michael Ironside is the photographer eventually reduced to 'cleaning up' after her. For what it is worth, we are even treated to a cheesy title song which, again, is picked up ad nauseam along the way!
  • I Know. Oscar Wilde did not deserve this but here are some clues that may help us in judging this film more nicely. First of all, I think it was a good idea to make Dorian Gray a woman in the eighties as an aspiring actress-turned-to-be top model. Did you know that for the 1945 Lewin's version, Greta Garbo wanted the leading role dearly? Secondly, it is not so ridiculous to use a "film" instead of a picture or a "portrait". We have to remember that here we are in Los Angeles at the moment when the VHS exploded. This adaptation only reflects the epoch in which it was made. Could you imagine a girl snubbing a movie role for a modeling career instead nowadays? Finally, I liked the song. It summarizes the real story, it is seductive and tries to tell us the causes and consequences of the sins Dorian supposedly committed (but which of course we don't see). Unhappily, these elements alone do not make a good adaptation. I would have started by a better written script and a better casting. Anthony Perkins as Henry Lord (instead of Lord Henry Wotton, not so clever after all) is really alone in this one.