The underrated Albert Lewin (Pandora and the Flying Dutchman, The Moon and Sixpence), a sort of Val Lewton who had the run of the MGM back lot, adapted Oscar Wilde’s novel and directed his own script in a skillfully somber and haunting version of the metaphysical fable about a man whose painting ages and records his moral corruption while he retains his youthful appearance. With Hurd Hatfield memorably playing the title part, the 1945 film also includes juicy performances by George Sanders, Angela Lansbury, and Donna Reed. Deeper and creepier (that is to say, better) than anything turned out by Merchant-Ivory, this is both very Hollywood and very serious in a manner calculated to confound the “Hey, it’s only a movie!” crowd. This screening of a 35-millimeter print is tied to the Art Institute’s retrospective of painter Ivan Albright–who executed the extraordinary portrait of Dorian Gray’s rotting corruption, which appears in the black-and-white film as one of its only color shots (hey, it’s only a painting!)–and will be graced by a personal appearance by Hatfield, who’ll discuss both the movie and painting, and hopefully the novel as well. Film Center, Art Institute, Columbus Drive at Jackson, Saturday, March 1, 8:00, 312-443-3737.
Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): film still.