Thursday 6 July 2017

A postcard from Lisbon - the Cinemateca and Albert Lewin's THE PICTURE OF DORIAN GRAY (USA, 1945)

(Ph: Derek Foley)
A trip to Lisbon (population 2.8 million) has to be completed by at least one visit to the Cinemateca. The history of the institution dates it back to 1948 and it now houses a major collection in its vaults outside the city as well as operating one of the best cinematheque programs and venues that you will find anywhere. The current program focuses on James Gray, Chantal Akerman and others.  For us, with not a lot of cinema enthusiasm on show, the choice came down to a screening of Albert Lewin’s The Picture of Dorian Gray (MGM, USA, 1945), screened via a fine 35mm print supplied by the British National Film and Television Archive.
(Ph: Derek Foley)
The price of admission for seniors was a modest 2.15 Euros (full price 3.20 Euros) and for that you got to sit in a beautifully appointed cinema along with a lot of other seniors who came out for the 3.30 pm session. Dead quiet reigned after a cymbal was sounded to indicate the start of the show. No ads, no previews.

As for the film, I saw for the first time the Technicolor inserts. My previous viewing must have been on TV prior to 1975 when colour came on the scene. Large slabs of the story had been forgotten as well. George Sanders delivered the Oscar Wilde lines assembled by Lewin with a rare brilliance. I had remembered Hurd Hatfield as far more handsome than this time and had forgotten Angela Lansbury, Donna Reed and Peter Lawford completely. Nostalgia reigned and once again Lewin’s movie made you think that he is underestimated.

Hurd Hatfield, Angela Lansbury, The Picture of Dorian Gray

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