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JeanneCrain

Sally Fields…what a doll !

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...and if in fact the director did instruct Hatfield to give an off performance its really weird, because there are a lot of extremely clever directorial touches and flourishes in the movie. One such example: in a scene set in aNursery near the end of the movie, there are some toy blocks on the floor which bear the initials of the three victims murdered by Dorian Gray.

 

his direction of Hatfield in the film and the resulting misfire of a performance is like a pink tempera paint bunny rabbit in the middle of a brilliant Van Gogh: it don't fit.

 

(the directors other big mistake was to have all the shots of the portrait done in Technicolor. Great as the portrait is, it's jarring to take us away from a black and white film with color images and then throw us back into the black and white film. With the exception of The Wizard of Oz this is pretty much never worked ever in any film from the golden era.)

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his direction of Hatfield in the film and the resulting misfire of a performance is like a pink tempera paint bunny rabbit in the middle of a brilliant Van Gogh: it don't fit.

 

 

I haven't seen the film in some time, but in the novel, Gray is very expressive, even flamboyant at times.

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and another of the points mentioned, was ( whether through the actor's choice or director's instructions) the character should exhibit some inherent likeability in order for him to attract, at least at first, so many, and such a diverse a following.

Also, read or heard where Hatfield was never happy with his performance as Dorian because of the way he was forced to play it.

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I was actually waiting to see Dorian's dead mother in a rocking chair locked up in an upstairs bedroom, lol.

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I was actually waiting to see Dorian's dead mother in a rocking chair locked up in an upstairs bedroom, lol.

 

Not in the basement?

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Maybe I haven't been paying attention but, I have always been under the impression whatever films were presented as "Essentials" were selected by the guest host - with guidance from Robert Osborne, et al. I don't know where I got that impression, I don't recall having it explained at any point.

 

I mention this because of Sally Field's objection to last evening's presentation of The Portrait of Dorian Gray. Her dislike of this movie - more specifically, Hurd Hatfield's performance - surprised me. I was not expecting that reaction.

 

Negative comments from the hosts are ok - it's just that I was expecting praise as I thought these films were selected because the hosts deemed them "essential" and, therefore, appealing. I'm not saying anything is wrong, I was just a bit confused..

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Not in the basement?

 

Too bad they didn't have Angela Lansbury find his dead mother there before she committed suicide, I would have died laughing. BTW the problem with Dorian is he looks like he has less blood in him than Dracula. Corpses have more skin tone.

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Too bad they didn't have Angela Lansbury find his dead mother there before she committed suicide, I would have died laughing. BTW the problem with Dorian is he looks like he has less blood in him than Dracula. Corpses have more skin tone.

Kid Dabb--I missed the intro, so missed the hosts disagreement--but earlier in the thread, I put at least Some of the blame for Hatfields' performance on the director--I mean seriously, if HH was doing so badly in the role & not fulfilling Director Lewin's wishes, HH would have been fired the first or 2nd week--MGM was in business to make money, #1; making art was a secondary concern (to the studio heads).  I'm surprised Field didn't understand that.  I suppose the Makeup dept.  was doing what they were told by Director Lewin.

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yes the last time I mentioned how bad I thought Hatfield was in "Dorian Gray" someone copy and pasted a review from I think Bosley Crowther of the New York Times that laid the blame for his performance squarely on the shoulders of the director. I guess it is entirely possible that the director instructed him to be flat and emotionless and two-dimensional. But if he did it was a huge mistake.

 

it is, I think, worth noting that Hatfield made something like three guest appearances on MURDER SHE WROTE, and he and Lansbury were reportedly good friends. So maybe it was just a case of he was a nice guy and a good actor whose career was pretty much ruined by a bad call from a higher up.

I thought It was my problem of not being able to understand British accents rearing its ugly head again, but RO said he couldn't understand the narrator either. I also had some problems with understanding Sanders and Hatfield, who isn't even British.

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Maybe I haven't been paying attention but, I have always been under the impression whatever films were presented as "Essentials" were selected by the guest host - with guidance from Robert Osborne, et al. I don't know where I got that impression, I don't recall having it explained at any point.
 
I mention this because of Sally Field's objection to last evening's presentation of The Portrait of Dorian Gray. Her dislike of this movie - more specifically, Hurd Hatfield's performance - surprised me. I was not expecting that reaction.
 
Negative comments from the hosts are ok - it's just that I was expecting praise as I thought these films were selected because the hosts deemed them "essential" and, therefore, appealing. I'm not saying anything is wrong, I was just a bit confused..

 

 

Someone must think that thing is an "essential".

 

Just not Sally, I guess.

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Someone must think that thing is an "essential".

 

Just not Sally, I guess.

Maybe the summer intern behind the scenes thinks it's an Essential.

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Maybe I haven't been paying attention but, I have always been under the impression whatever films were presented as "Essentials" were selected by the guest host - with guidance from Robert Osborne, et al. I don't know where I got that impression, I don't recall having it explained at any point.
 
I mention this because of Sally Field's objection to last evening's presentation of The Portrait of Dorian Gray. Her dislike of this movie - more specifically, Hurd Hatfield's performance - surprised me. I was not expecting that reaction.
 
Negative comments from the hosts are ok - it's just that I was expecting praise as I thought these films were selected because the hosts deemed them "essential" and, therefore, appealing. I'm not saying anything is wrong, I was just a bit confused..

 

I remember when Alec Baldwin was the "Essentials" co-host that he and RO used to get into some disagreements over whether a film they just aired was really an "essential" film. Sometimes it would be a favorite of RO, sometimes a favorite of Alec, and during the wrap up Alec would still be trying to convince Robert to see things his way.

So I guess they are films that both hosts agree upon showing, whether they mutually agree on their "essentialness" or not.

 

However, last night I found myself in perfect harmony with Sally Field's assessment of THE PICTURE OF DORIAN GRAY (1945).

While listening to her, though initially surprized, I was reminded of the first few times I watched it as a kid and it wasn't a favorite of mine then either.

And the reason was Hurd Hatfield's character in the film. Although he was kind-of "girlishly" good-looking, he was so aloof and unendearing in personality, from his first appearance on screen throughout, that I had no sympathy for him at all.

I think that he was either miscast, or misdirected, or needed a better script (the latter two being the responsibility of writer/director Albert Lewin).

It was only many years later, probably due to my watching TCM a lot, that I finally grew to appreciate this film.

Not because of Hatfield's performance, but for the films many other fine qualities. The somewhat gothic moody atmosphere, the brief but effective color transistions, and the interesting performances of  George Sanders, Angela Lansbury, Donna Reed, Peter Lawford, and others, including Cedric Hardwicke's narration (that RO found difficult to understand?)  that allow me to watch this film with a much better appreciation than I originally had. But it took many years for that to happen.

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I mention this because of Sally Field's objection to last evening's presentation of The Portrait of Dorian Gray. Her dislike of this movie - more specifically, Hurd Hatfield's performance - surprised me. I was not expecting that reaction.
 

 

I'll restate that Sally and I (and others) are simpatico on the insufficiency of Hatfield's performance, and it was pretty funny when both RO and Sally peered upwards to ask Hurd to forgive them (presumably from heaven.)

 

I'm thinking though, that since Os is so tight with Lansbury- he likely knew Hatfield personally, and has SURELY heard Angela talk about the making of THE PICTURE OF DORIAN GRAY, I was expecting him to offer the possible reason for Hatfield's weak performance as his obeying the director's wishes (as others here and elsewhere have)...

 

Os did not offer this explanation, and in fact he even concurred somewhat with Field- although not as harshly- that Hatfield was a problem with the film.

 

For her part though, I felt Sally was being a little shortsighted, even callow,- her words a trifle cruel (I paraphrase): "they needed to make sure they hired someone who was capable. That character has to change from how we see him in the beginning, they did not hire someone who was capable of showing that change, and the film suffers."

 

Burn.

 

It is possible Hatfield was a capable actor - who suffered from not being powerful enough in HOLLYWOOD at the time (DORIAN GRAY was his second film) to say "no" to a diretor who was helming a big budget production at the biggest studio in town.)

 

either way- the bare fact remains that THE PICTURE OF DORIAN GRAY would be the finest horror film MGM ever produced (even better than FREAKS or MARK OF THE VAMPIRE) and one of the best pictures of 1945 were it not for Hatfield's inferior performance (or Lewin's misguided direction of Hatfield that resulted in said inferior performance.)

 

as I watched the movie last night though, I was wondering what kind of direction Lewin would have given Hurd to elicit such a bizarrely unemotional performance:

 

"all right, Hurd, darling- for this next scene, I want you to act as if no thought has ever entered your head in your entire life. Pretend you're just a spinal cord in an ascot- no reaction, no processing, no nothing: a blank slate. Here, for inspiration I will place this open, but untouched pint of vanilla ice cream in front of you- see how smooth it is?, how untouched, how lacking in depth it is? I want you TO BE this untouched pint of vanilla ice cream in the next scene..."

 

And if Hatfield did in fact obey those wishes, then he was quite possiubly the best damned actor EVER- because that is exactly what he does throughout the whole film.

 

(but even if he was better in the role, I still think he is miscast as Dorian, and apparently he was quoted as saying he thought so too.)

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two interest facts about DORIAN GRAY's director Albert Lewin:

 

1. He was born in Brooklyn (!)

2. He wrote 17 films, but only directed seven.

 

they are:

 

1957 The Living Idol

 1953 Saadia
 1943 Madame Curie (fired, uncredited)

 1942 The Moon and Sixpence

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and again...I am just beguiled that Lewin could have told Hatfield to play Dorian the way he did, because outside of that- the film is excellent, and filled with solid directorial flourishes and decisions, and the rest of the cast is excellent.

 

and the problem isn't in the script, which actually improves greatly on Oscar Wilde's kind of overrated, under-plotted, sliver of an original novel which serves mainly as a chance for Oscar to drop his unsolicited Oscarisms on the reader willy-nilly (and remains the only book he ever published.)

 

as much as i like George Sanders, I was getting tired of the constant barrage of cleverly wicked/wickedly clever bon mots he was forced to drop ever sixty seconds or so...he wasn't so much a character as a mouthpiece.

 

it was like "oh God, are you ever not "on."?"

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and again...I am just beguiled that Lewin could have told Hatfield to play Dorian the way he did, because outside of that- the film is excellent, and filled with solid directorial flourishes and decisions, and the rest of the cast is excellent.

 

and the problem isn't in the script, which actually improves greatly on Oscar Wilde's kind of overrated, under-plotted, sliver of an original novel which serves mainly as a chance for Oscar to drop his unsolicited Oscarisms on the reader willy-nilly (and remains the only book he ever published.)

 

as much as i like George Sanders, I was getting tired of the constant barrage of cleverly wicked/wickedly clever bon mots he was forced to drop ever sixty seconds or so...he wasn't so much a character as a mouthpiece.

 

it was like "oh God, are you ever not "on."?"

 

I haven't seen the film recently and shouldn't be posting but just a thought here. Was Hatfield's vacuous emotional state anyway tied in significantly with the painting, that once painted it sort of takes the essence of who Hatfield is and in effect draining him of some vitality. Again, a dangerous comment not knowing the film that well, but still wondering whether at least abstractly has some meaning. Dumb question in a way, you all would know and have already talked about it. Though perhaps there is something to it, but was an enormous misfire by director or actor or both. Or perhaps not so, the portrayal being hopelessly enigmatic in its own right, end of story. Damn, I wish I had seen the film this time around, I am really curious about ole Dorian now, like what makes him tick (that if he is ticking, at all,  haha). I may check NetF for this one. The discussion here has given me an appetite.

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I haven't seen the film recently and shouldn't be posting but just a thought here. . Damn, I wish I had seen the film this time around, I am really curious about ole Dorian now, like what makes him tick (that if he is ticking, at all,  haha). I may check NetF for this one. The discussion here has given me an appetite.

 

No harm in ever posting a thought, and it's good you're curious about watching DORIAN GRAY again.

 

(Psst, c'mere....keep it on the DL, but the film was rather recently available on youtube in full. Don't know if it still is, and if it is, don't want to get in trouble by posting a link, but check there first.)

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I always thought Hurd was very effective in this role. Dorian is

a vain, egotistical, manipulative cold fish. So Hatfield's flat

affect and unemotional look fit the character. I don't know

how he is portrayed in the book, I'm just talking about the

movie.

 

The Dorian of the novel is the exact opposite of flat and unemotional- in fact he is HIGHLY emotional and prone to spoiled fits of rage. Those of you who have seen the excellent 1990s film WILDE starring Stephen Fry and Jude Law may get the sense that Gray was based on a lover of Wilde's- a spoiled British Lord, with whom his romantic entanglement cost him his freedom and life.

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[ ... snip ... ]

 

 

(Psst, c'mere....keep it on the DL, but the film was rather recently available on youtube in full. Don't know if it still is, and if it is, don't want to get in trouble by posting a link, but check there first.)

 

Surely ya don't think I would do a think like that, do ya? I mean, do ya think I'm like, immoral, or sumpin.

 

(Psst, c'mere ... excuse me now, I gotta go the tube ... not the one with rabbit ears, the other one ... shhhh.)

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The Dorian of the novel is the exact opposite of flat and unemotional- in fact he is HIGHLY emotional and prone to spoiled fits of rage. Those of you who have seen the excellent 1990s film WILDE starring Stephen Fry and Jude Law may get the sense that Gray was based on a lover of Wilde's- a spoiled British Lord, with whom his romantic entanglement cost him his freedom and life.

 

Very interesting, that contrast.

 

Yep, that Bosie was really trouble for Oscar. A regular homme fatal, one might say.

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Too bad they didn't have Angela Lansbury find his dead mother there before she committed suicide, I would have died laughing. BTW the problem with Dorian is he looks like he has less blood in him than Dracula. Corpses have more skin tone.

 

And more life to them.

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Surely ya don't think I would do a think like that, do ya? I mean, do ya think I'm like, immoral, or sumpin.

 

(Psst, c'mere ... excuse me now, I gotta go the tube ... not the one with rabbit ears, the other one ... shhhh.)

 

Sorry to get you all excited, but I checked the 'tube last night and DORIAN GRAY has been pulled, although a 1973(?) version is available.

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two interest facts about DORIAN GRAY's director Albert Lewin:

 

1. He was born in Brooklyn (!)

2. He wrote 17 films, but only directed seven.

 

they are:

 

1957 The Living Idol

 1953 Saadia
 1943 Madame Curie (fired, uncredited)

 1942 The Moon and Sixpence

His pictures all had an artistic, intellectual sensibility, and were inaccessible to many.

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His pictures all had an artistic, intellectual sensibility,

 

Which (no offense) makes the "Brooklyn-born" thing all the more surprising.

Wonder what he did to get fired from MADAME CURIE....

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Which (no offense) makes the "Brooklyn-born" thing all the more surprising.

Wonder what he did to get fired from MADAME CURIE....

I'll have to report your remark to the Brooklyn Anti-Defamation Society.

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