“As I grow old, this picture will remain always young….if it were only the other way,” muses the youthful and handsome Victorian gentleman, Dorian Gray (Hurd Hatfield). The pursuit of youth has always seemed to fascinate people and it serves as the central focus of the 1945 film The Picture of Dorian Gray. It’s 1886 London and Dorian has had his portrait painted by a talented artist named Basil (Lowell Gilmore). Dorian makes a wish outloud that he give up his soul for the painting to grow old while he remain young forever. Whether the wish is granted by some unseen spiritual forces or something more sinister, Dorian begins to live the life that he desires (all while the ravages of time appear only in his portrait). As the years pass, Dorian becomes more decadent and callous with his life choices- including seducing and deserting innocent Vaudeville singer, Sibyl Vane (Angela Lansbury). As the scars continue to multiply, Dorian hides his disfigured potrait behind the locked door of a childhood playroom in his mansion. Dorian’s vile lifestyle catches up with him and soon everyone is dramatically affected by his deceitful ways. Adapted from Oscar Wilde’s 1896 novel, The Life of Dorian Gray features a brilliant cast (including George Sanders) and gorgeous, Oscar-winning cinematography from Harry Stradling.
Angela Lansbury, nominee, (177), scored a nomination in the Best Supporting Actress category playing the role of the sweet ingenue, Sibyl Vane. Sibyl is an exceptionally talented and beautiful young woman and she falls head over heels for Dorian as soon as she lays eyes on him. Sibyl’s innocence is put to the test and she soon falls victim to Dorian’s wicked ways. Once Dorian scorns Sibyl, she is sent into a tailspin and her life ultimately comes to a disastrous end.
This was Lansbury’s second consecutive Oscar nomination in the same category- she received a Best Supporting Actress nod the previous year for her work in the film Gaslight. Lansbury lost the Oscar that year to Anne Revere in National Velvet.