The Picture of Dorian Gray (1945 film)

The Picture of Dorian Gray is a 1945 American horror-drama film based on Oscar Wilde's 1890 novel of the same name. Released in June 1945 by Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, the film is directed by Albert Lewin and stars George Sanders as Lord Henry Wotton and Hurd Hatfield as Dorian Gray. Shot primarily in black-and-white, the film features four colour inserts in three-strip Technicolor of Dorian's portrait; these are a special effect, the first two inserts picturing a youthful Dorian and the second two a degenerate one.

The Picture of Dorian Gray
Promotional poster
Directed byAlbert Lewin
Screenplay byAlbert Lewin
Based onThe Picture of Dorian Gray
by Oscar Wilde
Produced byPandro S. Berman
StarringGeorge Sanders
Hurd Hatfield
Donna Reed
Angela Lansbury
Peter Lawford
Lowell Gilmore
Narrated byCedric Hardwicke
CinematographyHarry Stradling
Edited byFerris Webster
Music byHerbert Stothart
Color processTechnicolor
Distributed byLoew's Inc.
Release date
  • March 3, 1945 (1945-03-03)[1]
Running time
110 minutes[2]
CountryUnited States
Box office$2,975,000[3][4]


While posing for a painting by his friend Basil Hallward, handsome young aristocrat Dorian Gray meets Hallward's friend Lord Henry Wotton. Wotton persuades Gray the only worthwhile life is dedicated to pleasure, because "what the gods give they quickly take away." Contemplating this, Gray wishes his portrait could age instead of him. He makes this wish in the presence of an Egyptian cat statue with supposed mystical powers.

After callously breaking off his engagement to tavern singer Sibyl Vane, Gray finds the portrait has begun to change and wonders if his wish may have come true. He has the portrait locked away in his old schoolroom and disguises its location by firing servants who moved the painting, while Gray becomes more dedicated to a sinful and heartless life.

Years later, Dorian is 40 but still looks 22. London society is awestruck at his unchanging appearance. The portrait has remained locked away, with Gray holding the only key. Over the years, the portrait of the young, handsome, Dorian Gray has warped into a hideous, demon-like creature reflecting his many sins. When Hallward sees his painting, Gray murders his friend and seals his body in the school room next to the portrait, then blackmails his friend, Allen Campbell, to dispose of Hallward's body. Campbell, distraught at his role in destroying Hallward's corpse, commits suicide.

Gray starts a romance with Hallward's niece, Gladys. James Vane, Sibyl's brother, follows Gray to his country estate to achieve revenge for Sibyl's death and is shot by accident during a hunting party.

Gray despairs at his impact on others and realises he can spare Gladys from misfortune by leaving her. After sending Gladys a letter breaking their engagement, Gray confronts his portrait and sees a subtle improvement. He stabs the portrait in the heart, seeking to end the spell, but cries out as if he has also been stabbed. His friends, realizing what has happened, burst into the schoolroom to discover Gray dead next to the portrait, his deformed body now reflecting his sins in physical form. The portrait, by contrast, once more shows Dorian Gray as a young, innocent man.


"When we're good, we're not always happy." Lord Henry Wotton

"I sent my soul through the invisible, Some letter of that after-life to spell: And by and by my soul returned to me, And answered, 'I myself am Heaven and Hell'." The Rubáiyát of Omar Khayyám


Uncredited Cast

The paintings of Dorian GrayEdit

Albright's painting of Dorian Gray, from the 1945 film
External audio
  Multimedia, Audio stop 728.mp3, Art Institute of Chicago

Two paintings of the character Dorian Gray were used in the film. The painting titled Picture of Dorian Gray[5] used at the end of the film was painted on commission during the making of the film in 1943-1944 by Ivan Le Lorraine Albright, an American artist who was well known as a painter of the macabre. Created specifically for use in the film, it is now part of the art collection of the Art Institute of Chicago. Albright had to paint the picture while the movie was being made, to show Dorian Gray's physical transformation as his evil actions changed him into a horrid image in the painting while his actual physical appearance remained that of a young man. At the film's climax, Gray "killed" the painting by piercing it through its heart with a knife, thus killing himself when his physical appearance changed to that of the painting.

The portrait of Dorian Gray seen in the beginning of the film was painted by Henrique Medina, and is titled Portrait of Hurd Hatfield as Dorian Gray. It was originally sold at an MGM auction in 1970 when the contents of the studio were sold at a series of auctions lasting several months. It was then sold in a Butterfield and Butterfield Entertainment Memorabilia auction in 1997 for $17,250,[6] and in 2015, it was sold at Christie's, New York, for $149,000 and is believed to be in a private collection.[7][8]


The first piano piece played by Dorian to Sibyl is Frédéric Chopin's "Prelude No 24 in D minor". Played later in the Blue Gate Field house is Ludwig van Beethoven's "Moonlight Sonata".

Box officeEdit

According to MGM records, the film earned $1,399,000 in the U.S. and Canada and $1,576,000 elsewhere, resulting in a loss of $26,000.[3]

Awards and nominationsEdit

Year Award Result Category Recipient
1946 Academy Award Nominated Best Art Direction-Interior Decoration, Black-and-White John Bonar, Cedric Gibbons, Hugh Hunt, Hans Peters
and Edwin B. Willis
Nominated Best Actress in a Supporting Role Angela Lansbury
Won Best Cinematography, Black-and-White Harry Stradling[a]
Golden Globe Award Won Best Supporting Actress Angela Lansbury
1996 Hugo Award Won Best Dramatic Presentation Albert Lewin, Oscar Wilde
2009 Saturn Award Nominated Best DVD Classic Film Release The Picture of Dorian Gray

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ This Oscar win for Cinematography is a rare demonstration of respect for a horror film.[9]


  1. ^ "The Picture of Dorian Gray (1945)", catalog, American Film Institute (AFI), Los Angeles, California. Retrieved November 5, 2020.
  2. ^ "THE PICTURE OF DORIAN GRAY (A)". British Board of Film Classification. 1945-04-04. Retrieved 2013-01-27.
  3. ^ a b c The Eddie Mannix Ledger, Los Angeles: Margaret Herrick Library, Center for Motion Picture Study.
  4. ^ Scott Eyman, Lion of Hollywood: The Life and Legend of Louis B. Mayer, Robson, 2005 p 337
  5. ^ Information about Picture of Dorian Gray in the Art Institute of Chicago
  6. ^ Tribune, Danielle Arnet Special to the. "MERGER MANIA HITS THE AUCTION CIRCUIT". Retrieved 2020-05-13.
  7. ^ "Lot 1330 Henrique Medina (1901-1988) Portrait of Hurd Hatfield as Dorian Gray". Christie's. 21 March 2015. Retrieved 12 November 2018.
  8. ^ "Henrique Medina, Cindy Sherman | "Portrait of Hurd Hatfield as Dorian Gray" and "The Evil Twin" (1945 and 2016) | Artsy". Retrieved 2020-05-13.
  9. ^ Vieira, Mark A. (2003). Hollywood Horror: From Gothic to Cosmic. New York: Harry N. Abrams, Inc. p. 117. ISBN 0-8109-4535-5.

External linksEdit