The Sins of Dorian Gray (1983)

THE SINS OF DORIAN GRAY (1983)
TV-Movie
Article 3303 by Dave Sindelar
Viewing Date 7-14-2010
Posting Date: 8-30-2010
Directed by Tony Maylam
Featuring Anthony Perkins, Belinda Bauer, Joseph Bottoms
Country: USA
What it is: Wilde novel reinterpreted

An aspiring actress wishes her screen test footage would age instead of her. Her wish is granted, but her seeming agelessness corrupts her and makes her cruel.

This version of the Oscar Wilde novel made me consider what I liked best about the 1945 movie version. I realized that it was the character of Lord Henry Wotton I liked best; as the libertine who corrupts Dorian Gray, he is given the wittiest lines in the story. This later version of the story switches genders on the title character, updates the time to the present, and moves the action from England to America, and somewhere in the transition the wittiness is lost. There’s an equivalent character, of course; entrepreneur Henry Lord is this movie’s substitution, but the character has been so thoroughly redone that there’s very little left of the original. Maybe it’s just as well; it’s hard to imagine Anthony Perkins playing the same character that was such a good fit for George Sanders. But the movie really has no substitution for the loss of wit, and I found Belinda Bauer singularly unconvincing as Dorian Gray, and to my mind, the movie degenerates into strident soap opera. And, given that it was a TV movie, it couldn’t even really turn to sleaziness to up the interest factor. For me, the oddest thing about this production is that it’s from Rankin/Bass; personally, I liked them better when they stuck to holiday specials.

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