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(aka "Il Dio Chiamato Dorian" or "Dorian Gray" or "Das Bildnis des Dorian Gray")

 

directed by Massimo Dallamano
UK/Italy/Germany 1970

 

Dorian Gray (Helmut Berger, THE DAMNED) is a handsome and wealthy yet sheltered young man living in swinging sixties London. When he poses for a painting by artist friend Basil Hallward (Richard Todd, ASYLUM), he is noticed by cynical and decadent Lord Henry Wotton (Herbert Lom, THE PINK PANTHER) and his sister Alice (Maria Rohm, EUGENIE - THE STORY OF HER JOURNEY INTO PERVERSION). While he is falling under the thrall of Lord Henry's decadent philosophies, he also falls in love at first sight with unknown actress Sybil Vane (Marie Liljedahl, EUGENE - THE STORY OF HER JOURNEY INTO PERVERSION) rehearsing Shakespeare. Henry make Dorian aware and resentful of the eventuality of his loss of youth and beauty (and the reminders of it in the eternally youthful painting and Sybil's dreams of their future together). When Sybil's distracted performance as Juliet humiliates Dorian in front of his snickering friends, he breaks off his relationship with Sybil and she kills herself. As Dorian plunges headlong into a lifestyle of excess and vice, he notices that the portrait seems to be doing his aging for him. Hiding the painting in the attic, he continues on with his lifestyle as his friends move on (Lord Henry has softened in his old age and Alice has entered into a respectable marriage with Dorian's college pal Alan [Renato Romano, THE BIRD WITH THE CRYSTAL PLUMAGE]). When Dorian meets Gladys (Liljedahl again), the wife of Lord Henry's physician, Basil warns him to leave the girl alone. Angered by Basil's condemnation of his lifestyle, Dorian reveals the secret of the painting and then resorts to murder so it will remain a secret. His further attempts to cover this up bring down more people around him. If Massimo Dallamano's THE SECRET OF DORIAN GRAY feels like a Jess Franco film, it is likely due to the presence of producer Harry Alan Towers - indeed it may have started out as one, just as Towers' later "Jekyll and Hyde" adaptation EDGE OF SANITY feels like it may have been an abandoned Franco project from the late sixties - whose productions for Franco around this time also featured Lom (COUNT DRACULA), Rohm (VENUS IN FURS), and Lee (THE BLOODY JUDGE). Lom is no George Saunders - whose Lord Henry was a standout in the 1945 version - but he relishes reciting Wilde's dialogue, but Todd makes for a simultaneously hammy and underwhelming Basil (Wilde once said of the three central characters, "Basil Hallward is what I think I am: Lord Henry what the world thinks me: Dorian what I would like to be - in other ages, perhaps"). There's a bit of scenery-chewing in Berger's central performance - some of it subject to the dubbing and the English dialogue - but he had the presence as well as the provocative reputation. Rohm, Beryl Cunningham (ISLAND OF THE FISHMEN) and Margaret Lee (Jess Franco's VENUS IN FURS, not the Dallamano version directed the same year) are nice window-dressing here, with Liljedahl as the only female character given much depth. Billed as "a modern allegory based on the work of Oscar Wilde,” the screenplay – credited to Dallamano and Marcello Coscia (THE LIVING DEAD AT MANCHESTER MORGUE) makes plenty of room to explore Dorian's exploits - the "unveiling" of the source's homoerotic content here may have been shocking in the seventies, but it's pretty laughable and awkward now - and pushes a lot of plot material to the last half-hour (the courtship of Gladys and the threat of Sybil's vengeful brother are perfunctorily handled). Otello Spila's striking photography, which makes subtle use of colored gel lighting, artfully frames both bare bodies and Mario Ambrosino's art direction and costumes (Dorian's zebra fur coat matches the curtains in his drawing room). The music of Carlo Pes and Peppino De Luca was recently released on stereo CD by Digitmovies in Italy.

Eric Cotenas

Posters

Theatrical Release: 24 April 1970 (West Germany)

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DVD Comparison:

Raro Video/eOne - Region 0 - NTSC vs. Raro Video - Region 0 - PAL

Big thanks to Eric Cotenas for all the Screen Caps!

(Raro Video/eOne - Region 0 - NTSC - LEFT vs. Raro Video - Region 0 - PAL - RIGHT)

DVD Box Covers

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Distribution

Raro Video/eOne

Region 0 - NTSC

Raro Video
Region 0 - PAL
Runtime 1:41:00 1:37:00 (4% PAL speedup)
Video

1.66:1 Original Aspect Ratio

16X9 enhanced
Average Bitrate: 7.67 mb/s
NTSC 720x480 29.97 f/s

1.84:1 Original Aspect Ratio

16X9 enhanced
Average Bitrate: 3.96 mb/s
PAL 720x576 25.00 f/s

NOTE: The Vertical axis represents the bits transferred per second. The Horizontal is the time in minutes.

Bitrate:

 

Raro Video/eOne

 

Bitrate:

 

Raro Video

 

Audio Italian Dolby Digital 2.0 mono; English Dolby Digital 2.0 mono

Italian Dolby Digital 2.0 mono; English Dolby Digital 2.0 mono

Subtitles English, none Italian, none
Features Release Information:
Studio: Raro Video/eOne

Aspect Ratio:
Widescreen anamorphic - 1.66:1

Edition Details:
• Interview with assistant director Maurizio Tanfani (4:3; 30:50)
• Liner Notes Booklet

DVD Release Date: 17 May 2011
Amaray

Chapters 24

Release Information:
Studio: Raro Video

Aspect Ratio:
Widescreen anamorphic - 1.84:1

Edition Details:
• Interview with assistant director Maurizio Tanfani (4:3; 29:32)
• Liner Notes Bookle

 

DVD Release Date: 23 September 2008
Amaray

Chapters 24

 

Comments

The Raro USA DVD advertises itself to be newly transferred in HD, and it does not appear to be port of the Italian disc. The anamorphic, dual-layered, progressive transfer is framed at 1.66:1, while Raro Itay's single-layer transfer was framed at 1.85:1 and revealed less top and bottom information (the Italian disc also had a much lower bitrate to fit the near-100 minute film and a half hour interview onto a DVD5), although it seems to have been composed with American projection matting in mind. The colors and brightness - possibly boosted - are improved on the Raro USA edition as well (the Italian edition had a slight greenish tinge). The Italian track on both discs is in poor condition, but the English track features some of the original voices of the actors and the dialogue is elegant than the Italian (going by the subtitles).

 

Both DVDs represent the film's integral cut (the US and German cuts both ran just over ninety minutes and each featured bits of footage not present in the other). There also exists an Australian R4 release - which is reportedly a port of the Raro Italy disc with English subtitles - and a German disc from Arthaus/Kinowelt that represents the German cut of the film (no English options, of course).

 - Eric Cotenas

 



DVD Menus
(
Raro Video/eOne - Region 0 - NTSC - LEFT vs. Raro Video - Region 0 - PAL - RIGHT)


 

 


 

Screen Captures

(Raro Video/eOne - Region 0 - NTSC - TOP vs. Raro Video - Region 0 - PAL - BOTTOM)

 


(Raro Video/eOne - Region 0 - NTSC - TOP vs. Raro Video - Region 0 - PAL - BOTTOM)

 


(Raro Video/eOne - Region 0 - NTSC - TOP vs. Raro Video - Region 0 - PAL - BOTTOM)

 


(Raro Video/eOne - Region 0 - NTSC - TOP vs. Raro Video - Region 0 - PAL - BOTTOM)

 


(Raro Video/eOne - Region 0 - NTSC - TOP vs. Raro Video - Region 0 - PAL - BOTTOM)

 


(Raro Video/eOne - Region 0 - NTSC - TOP vs. Raro Video - Region 0 - PAL - BOTTOM)

 


(Raro Video/eOne - Region 0 - NTSC - TOP vs. Raro Video - Region 0 - PAL - BOTTOM)

 

 


 

Report Card:

 

Image:

Raro USA

Sound:

Raro USA (for subtitles)

Extras: Draw
Menu: Draw

 
DVD Box Covers

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Distribution

Raro Video/eOne

Region 0 - NTSC

Raro Video
Region 0 - PAL

 




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