Sign in to follow this  
CaveGirl

Sally Field and Dorian Gray

65 posts in this topic

Having watched the Essentials recently with the differing opinions of Robert Osborne and Sally Field considering the efficacy of the casting of Hurd Hatfield in the role of Oscar Wilde's creation, Dorian Gray I am curious what the cognescenti here feel about her opinion?

If you missed it, Robert Osborne seemed believed the film in general was an "essential" for movie fans and Sally did not, believing that Hatfield was horridly miscast as the lead.

I think she also said that she thought Peter Lawford would have been a better choice and that Hatfield was not believable as a man who started off more pure but then became bereft with temptatations and sordid turmoil and that this did not show in his performance.

Well?

 

 

 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Having watched the Essentials recently with the differing opinions of Robert Osborne and Sally Field considering the efficacy of the casting of Hurd Hatfield in the role of Oscar Wilde's creation, Dorian Gray I am curious what the cognescenti here feel about her opinion?

 

If you missed it, Robert Osborne seemed believed the film in general was an "essential" for movie fans and Sally did not, believing that Hatfield was horridly miscast as the lead.

 

I think she also said that she thought Peter Lawford would have been a better choice and that Hatfield was not believable as a man who started off more pure but then became bereft with temptatations and sordid turmoil and that this did not show in his performance.

 

Well?

 

 

Ignoring my own opinion, the fact that Hatfield's career did not exactly skyrocket after his very visible role in DORIAN GRAY may be circumstantial evidence that Sally is right.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I agree with Sally, at least the part about Hurd Hatfield being woefully miscast as Dorian Grey. Can't say that Peter Lawford would have been much better, though.

 

What we have to understand here is that Dorian Grey is supposed to be an exceptionally beautiful young man. So not only does Hatfield come across as somewhat cold and dull for the part, he is also (obviously in my opinion), lacking big-time in male pulchritude.  Dorian's physical beauty is a major part of the story, so it's important to cast someone who's exceptionally handsome (and, hopefully, can act...)

 

I've always thought Tyrone Power would have been a good choice.He would have been young enough (well, about 30 at the time the film was made), and he's almost ridiculously good-looking. However, it's doubtful whether he would have been able to pull off an aristocratic English accent. (Although, come to think of it, Hurd was American too...) I've always like Tyrone Power, and I think he would have done a much better job than HH did.

 

I'm sure there were lots of exceptionally beautiful young male British actors in the 1940s who could have made a better Dorian than Hurd  did, but for some reason none are coming to mind (except James Mason, who, while undeniably good-looking, just doesn't seem the Dorian Grey type.)

 

Maybe Michael Redgrave. Or Dirk Bogarde?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I agree with Sally, at least the part about Hurd Hatfield being woefully miscast as Dorian Grey. Can't say that Peter Lawford would have been much better, though.

 

What we have to understand here is that Dorian Grey is supposed to be an exceptionally beautiful young man. So not only does Hatfield come across as somewhat cold and dull for the part, he is also (obviously in my opinion), lacking big-time in male pulchritude.  Dorian's physical beauty is a major part of the story, so it's important to cast someone who's exceptionally handsome (and, hopefully, can act...)

 

I've always thought Tyrone Power would have been a good choice.He would have been young enough (well, about 30 at the time the film was made), and he's almost ridiculously good-looking. However, it's doubtful whether he would have been able to pull off an aristocratic English accent. (Although, come to think of it, Hurd was American too...) I've always like Tyrone Power, and I think he would have done a much better job than HH did.

 

I'm sure there were lots of exceptionally beautiful young male British actors in the 1940s who could have made a better Dorian than Hurd  did, but for some reason none are coming to mind (except James Mason, who, while undeniably good-looking, just doesn't seem the Dorian Grey type.)

Somehow, the role seems to call for an actor who was relatively unknown at that time. Hatfield certainly qualifies on that score.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Somehow, the role seems to call for an actor who was relatively unknown at that time. Hatfield certainly qualifies on that score.

 

But as I went to some length to explain, not on any other.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

CaveGirl--the boards had quite a discussion about Hurd Hatfield in late June.  I thought then and still think now, especially since I've seen one more picture with Hatfield in it, that he was directed by Albert Lewin to act as if the portrait had taken all animation from him, & that that was a near-disastrous move for the film.  The contrast between how Alive his portrait looks & how lifeless Hurd's performance is I blame on director Lewin & the viewer not getting a good Long look to see that contrast I also blame Lewin for.  By the way, if anyone wants to do a search, the pictures of the portrait are still on TCM's website.  If Hurd was without talent, he wouldn't have managed to have a career as a character actor after "The Picture of Dorian Gray" (1945) was released.

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

CaveGirl--the boards had quite a discussion about Hurd Hatfield in late June.  I thought then and still think now, especially since I've seen one more picture with Hatfield in it, that he was directed by Albert Lewin to act as if the portrait had taken all animation from him, & that that was a near-disastrous move for the film.  The contrast between how Alive his portrait looks & how lifeless Hurd's performance is I blame on director Lewin & the viewer not getting a good Long look to see that contrast I also blame Lewin for.  By the way, if anyone wants to do a search, the pictures of the portrait are still on TCM's website.  If Hurd was without talent, he wouldn't have managed to have a career as a character actor after "The Picture of Dorian Gray" (1945) was released.

Lewin was a very accomplished intellectual but his films are a bit head-scratching. Not just DORIAN GRAY.

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

CaveGirl--the boards had quite a discussion about Hurd Hatfield in late June.  I thought then and still think now, especially since I've seen one more picture with Hatfield in it, that he was directed by Albert Lewin to act as if the portrait had taken all animation from him, & that that was a near-disastrous move for the film.  The contrast between how Alive his portrait looks & how lifeless Hurd's performance is I blame on director Lewin & the viewer not getting a good Long look to see that contrast I also blame Lewin for.  By the way, if anyone wants to do a search, the pictures of the portrait are still on TCM's website.  If Hurd was without talent, he wouldn't have managed to have a career as a character actor after "The Picture of Dorian Gray" (1945) was released.

I concur. We should not slam Hatfield too much, because he was able to sustain a career as an actor-- which I am sure was no easy accomplishment given the monumental typecasting that must have occurred after he did this role.

 

My choice, though, were I to cast this picture-- Dirk Bogarde. And if Dirk was not available, then maybe Michael Rennie. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

But as I went to some length to explain, not on any other.

My comment addressed your suggestion of Tyrone Power, who I believe was too well-known for the role.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I agree with Sally, at least the part about Hurd Hatfield being woefully miscast as Dorian Grey. Can't say that Peter Lawford would have been much better, though.

 

What we have to understand here is that Dorian Grey is supposed to be an exceptionally beautiful young man. So not only does Hatfield come across as somewhat cold and dull for the part, he is also (obviously in my opinion), lacking big-time in male pulchritude.  Dorian's physical beauty is a major part of the story, so it's important to cast someone who's exceptionally handsome (and, hopefully, can act...)

 

 

My immediate reaction to Sally Field's comment was:  "You go, girl."  Hurd Hatfield is so dull and clearly cannot act.  The portrait gives a livelier performance than Hurd does! 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

lydecker--That the portrait had more life than Hatfield was  the point of my post.  Also, I believe director Lewin was partially (totally?) responsible for Hatfield's lifeless performance.

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Ignoring my own opinion, the fact that Hatfield's career did not exactly skyrocket after his very visible role in DORIAN GRAY may be circumstantial evidence that Sally is right.

 

 

Well, Peter Lawford in the role would be a terrible choice. The film was hampered by censorship in that you never saw what debauchery Dorian was involved in. Didnt someone in a past thread say Hatfield was directed to act with no emotion???

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I guess the problem with the character AND the performance is that Dorian Gray verbalizes his

wish to "look just as I do today forever."  For him to be willing to "sell his soul" to achieve that, he

has to go from Point A:  A decent person who has a soul TO Point B:  The evil, immoral person he becomes.  Since he doesn't seem particularly "nice" or "moral" at the beginning, the audience doesn't see much change, either in the character (or in the performance) from beginning to end.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

People, it isn't just about Hurd Hatfield's acting (which, Lewin's reputed direction to him notwithstanding, was wretched.)

Everyone here is talking about HH's acting, some find it cold and wooden,while others think that's fine,that's the way his character was supposed to be (I disagree with that, but whatever...)

 

My point is, Dorian Gray as Oscar Wilde wrote him is supposed to be a jaw-droppingly beautiful young man, what people now call "hot".  An Adonis, a magnetically attractive youth. Never mind about his acting, Hurd's face just isn't that lovely. He's not bad-looking, but he ain't no Adonis, either. I cannot imagine Sibyl Vane taking her life because of unrequited love from someone who looked like HH.  (This whole tragic story, of poor Sibyl , is more complicated in the book.)

 

ps: I can never remember to spell Dorian's last name "GrAy", which is the proper spelling. I always want to say it's "GrEy". After all, "gray" should be spelled "grey".  All 50 shades of it.  (sorry.)

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

In the film, Hatfield stabs the Painting in the heart to kill himself--the Painting has his soul and humanity!  Everything that is human and likable is in the Painting.

 

link to photos and a video of The Portrait, plus Junes' discussion:

 

http://forums.tcm.com/index.php/topic/53959-dorian-gray-hurd-hatfield-painting-by-henrique-medina-1945/?hl=%2Bdorian%2Bgray

 

 

Go to posts #17 and #19 to see pictures and video.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I think Hurd  was perfect for the role and extremely handsome he was considered  as good looking as Tyrone Power in the Hollywood colony then.Bogarde was too young ,i am not sure if he was in movies at the time.As for Lawford,i  never liked him in anything to be honest but it is a question of taste i suppose.I  do not like  Sally Field  at all as co host,her lack of knowledge shows up too often,,well it is better than Drew Barrymore, but i think Hugh Hefner would be a great cohost,he has a lot of knowledge,he is well articulated and does a lot for movie restoration,my grain of salt.

  • Like 2

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Bogarde was too young 

I think MGM should have remade it with Dirk in the mid-50s. Now that would have been a truly excellent version. File under missed opportunity. 

 

If they had attempted it in the mid-30s, then Leslie Howard would have been perfect. Again, please file under missed opportunity.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Having watched the Essentials recently with the differing opinions of Robert Osborne and Sally Field considering the efficacy of the casting of Hurd Hatfield in the role of Oscar Wilde's creation, Dorian Gray I am curious what the cognescenti here feel about her opinion?

 

If you missed it, Robert Osborne seemed believed the film in general was an "essential" for movie fans and Sally did not, believing that Hatfield was horridly miscast as the lead.

 

I think she also said that she thought Peter Lawford would have been a better choice and that Hatfield was not believable as a man who started off more pure but then became bereft with temptatations and sordid turmoil and that this did not show in his performance.

 

Well?

 

 

First time in a long time I actually watched the intro discussion of an "Essential" movie.

I do agree with Sally Field on this one.  Incidentally, I gave up on the movie about half-way through.  Other than George Sanders, it was kind of boring - and Hatfield made it more so.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

First time in a long time I actually watched the intro discussion of an "Essential" movie.

I do agree with Sally Field on this one.  Incidentally, I gave up on the movie about half-way through.  Other than George Sanders, it was kind of boring - and Hatfield made it more so.

You people seem on the verge of giving Hatfield the nickname, "Hurd the T**d". (for those with rhyming propensities).

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I think Hurd  was perfect for the role and extremely handsome he was considered  as good looking as Tyrone Power in the Hollywood colony ......

 

Well, of course preference in someone's looks is purely a matter of personal taste; it's one thing that cannot be argued about because it is so subjective.

However, I still have to say, hard to believe Hurd Hatfield would have been considered as even in the same league as Ty Power in terms of male beauty. Tyrone Power was one of the most handsome men in Hollywood, in any era. Hurd looks like he's made out of wax  (perhaps appropriately , given the premise of the story...)

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I thought HH was handsome enough for the role. I agree the film loses steam about halfway through. The Donna Reed scenes are boring.......

  • Like 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Well, Hatfield's full name was William Rukard Hurd Hatfield.

William doesn't stand out very much and Hurd sounds a

whole lot better than Rukard. I thought Hatfield was very

handsome, but, at least in Dorian Gray, it's a less animated

handsomeness than Ty Power and other pretty boys exhibited.

I would call Hatfield's acting in Dorian Gray more marble than

wooden, and that fits the character very well.

 

 

Most definitely an improvment over Rukard! Wasnt he Irish? I thought he was.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Well, of course preference in someone's looks is purely a matter of personal taste; it's one thing that cannot be argued about because it is so subjective.

However, I still have to say, hard to believe Hurd Hatfield would have been considered as even in the same league as Ty Power in terms of male beauty. Tyrone Power was one of the most handsome men in Hollywood, in any era. Hurd looks like he's made out of wax  (perhaps appropriately , given the premise of the story...)

Exactly. So his casting may have been inspired. Whether he followed through is another issue.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now
Sign in to follow this  

New Members:

Register Here

Learn more about the new message boards:

FAQ

Having problems?

Contact Us