Archive for the ‘Drama’ Category

Movie Reviews 371 – Billy Jack (1971)

November 30, 2018

Billy Jack was something of cult favorite film that was made by political activist and auteur Tom Laughlin after him seeing firsthand the treatment and plight of American First Nations. Made on a shoestring budget and bandied about across a number of studios over a lengthy production period, the film would eventually be released as an independent film by the writer, director and star Laughlin himself. While the film ended up being a great success from a return point of view, sadly the realities depicted by the subject matter in the film still hold true today.

The film has Billy Jack (Laughlin), a half indian, Vietnam veteran Green Beret as the self imposed defender of a progressive “Freedom School” being run by his girlfriend Jean (Delores Taylor, Laughlin’s real life wife) against redneck mustang poachers from the nearby town. The poachers are led by Stuart Posner, the town heavy who has most of the town council in his pockets but even worse than the elder Posner is his son Bernard (David Roya) who despises the natives even more than he hates his own father.

The troubles really begin when the free living daughter of a Sheriff’s deputy – a man working on the side for Posner – gets pregnant and, after a violent confrontation with her father, seeks refuge at the school. While the law and town council suspect the natives of harbouring the girl their searches prove fruitless. Meanwhile Billy, as protector of the school, has run-ins with Stuart, his henchmen, and son Bernard on several occasions.

But when Bernard crosses the line and commits atrocious crimes against a number of people connect with the school including Jean, Billy’s rage gets the best of him and he deals with Bernard such that he will never be a problem again. This leads to a standoff with Billy held at the school while surrounded by law officials. But Billy is not one to give up easily and as the minutes tick by he serious weighs the idea of going out in a final blaze of glory instead of being imprisoned for years to come at the hands of a corrupt system.

To be fair this movie is really rough around the edges which makes watching cringe worthy at times. The largely young cast provide mostly painful cardboard cutout acting. Several scenes are just the kids acting out nearly incomprehensible skits (including a very young Howard Hesseman) which are not only boring but excruciatingly long. While Laughlin himself is not that bad, even his character is remains fairly unidimensional. More troubling is the oft cited mixed messages dispensed by the film. Jean is the die-hard pacifist at odds with Billy whose good intentions are backed up by high flying kicks and the agility to take on mobs of assailants. One of the few respectable town residents is none other than the sheriff, who is indeed a laudable lawman, but in the end he too is forced stand against Billy. Even the detestable Bernard is first introduced as a gun wary boy who is one of the few willing to confront to his forceful father, only to become worse than him. While the film intends to side with the kids (the school in fact been portrayed as a hippie commune that were popular in the day), they sometimes come off as obnoxious and biased as the rednecks.

But there is plenty of good stuff to enjoy as well. The motorcycle riding Billy shows off some remarkable (if exaggerated) combat skills that captured audiences that had yet to be exposed to the martial arts films that would soon flood the market – mainly thanks to the talents of Bruce Lee – and give rise to the Kung Fu mania that followed. The scene where Billy confronts Stuart Posner – declaring “I’m going to take this right foot and I’m going to whup that side of your face. And you know something? There’s not a damn thing you can do about it.” – and then doing exactly what he said, is a pure classic. There is also a memorable scene when Billy takes some time out for a ritual which entails going head to head with a rattler and having to endure it’s bites in order to become ‘brother of the snake’.

Technically, this is a sequel to Laughlin’s film The Born Losers in which the Billy Jack character first appeared and the success of this one also led to the inferior The Trial of Billy Jack. It’s hard for me to say that this is still a must see film for either those interested counterculture media or martial arts devotees. But I certainly got a kick out of it. Many, many kicks to sure.

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Movie Reviews 368 – Gaslight (1944)

November 9, 2018

You hear the term gaslighting more and more these days. While in a manner it has been around ever since people have lied and manipulated one another, the term now sadly applies to political parties and partisan groups subjecting it to the masses.

According to Wikipedia:

 “Gaslighting is a form of psychological manipulation that seeks to sow seeds of doubt in a targeted individual or in members of a targeted group, making them question their own memory, perception, and sanity. Using persistent denial, misdirection, contradiction, and lying, it attempts to destabilize the victim and delegitimize the victim’s belief.”

If you’ve ever wondered how the word for a turn of the century mode of household illumination became synonymous with deceit and imbalance look no further than the 1944 production of the multi-Oscar film Gaslight directed by George Cukor.

A young London girl is subjected to the murder of her famous opera singer mother when a thief failed to get some jewels they were seeking. Now grown up and living in Italy Paula (Ingrid Bergman) falls for a Gregory Anton (Charles Boyer) a French aristocrat who sweeps her off her feet . The two soon marry and Anton sways Paula into returning to her mother’s house despite her long held revulsion for the house since the murder.

But it was not chance that led her to meeting Gregory and neither was it coincidental that they have moved back to her old home. Anton, seemingly the loving and caring husband, is slowly and deliberately influencing his wife to doubt her sanity while keeping her isolated from prying eyes and ears. His goal, simple enough, is to have her declared insane so that he can get his hands and what the thief wanted all those years ago.

What makes the plot remarkable is the subtlety in which Paula is manipulated, not by elaborate tricks but mostly by minor events and treatment. With the help of the house servant (Angela Lansbury) her husband also maneuvered into being hired – and with whom he was having an affair with – Anton picks up on the slightest opportunity to induce doubt in Paula. While he does stage a few misplaced objects he devilishly creates an entire living environment mimicking a virtual prison in which Paula’s own mind does the most damage to her sanity.

This is a great film from beginning to end and one that the entire cast shines, but just like it’s own plot, the history of the film itself includes a bit of attempted skulduggery. While the film was based on a play named Angel Street,  the initial movie rights where sold to a lower budget studio English studio which made the film four years prior to this version. But when MGM bought the remake rights to make this one, it also attempted to eliminate every trace of the first going so far as trying to get all prints and the negatives destroyed.

Lucky for me that my Warner Home Video DVD includes both versions because word is that the original is not only closer to the original play, but in some ways even superior to this version that has garnered all the accolades over the years.

That’s right. We’ve been gaslit as an an audience.

Movie Reviews 366 – The Boys From Brazil (1978)

October 27, 2018

It’s hard to imagine that a movie featuring an all star cast of consisting such exalted actors that include Gregory Peck, Sir Laurence Olivier and James Mason could be anything other that an austere melodrama dealing with only the most serious of storylines. But The Boys from Brazil shakes off some the Shakespearean plaudits, first as a quasi B-movie science fiction, horror melange that dabbles in Nazi cloning experiments and secondly by also featuring Police Academy alumni Steve Guttenberg in a pivotal role.

Wannabe Nazi hunter Barry Kohler (Guttenberg) believes he has stumbled upon some evil plot in Paraguay and even believes he has found the Angel of Death himself, notorious Auschwitz concentration camp human experimenter Dr. Joseph Mengele (Peck). When he makes a frantic stateside call to renown Nazi hunter Ezra Lieberman (Olivier), Ezra’s response is basically “Tell me something that I and the rest of the world don’t already know!”.

But as the call ends with a chilling scream Ezra’s conscience gets the better of him and he does start investigating. What he finds is more puzzling than it is disturbing. The fact that remnants of the Nazi regime are murdering a select group 94 men across the globe that are exactly 65 years old and all civil servants and with no other apparent link including either political affiliations, religion or knowledge of one another. The shocking truth is no less than a diabolical attempt by surviving Nazis hoping to establish a fourth Reich! But how does killing 94 seemingly innocent men fit in with all this?

Based on Ira Levin’s (of Rosemary’s Baby fame) novel of the same name, this movie is not all Nazi intrigue as there are welcome moments of levity, most notably in a scene with Rosemary Harris (aunt May from the Spiderman film series) as an unapologetic young widow flaunting her wares to a much older Olivier.

I can’t say that these actors are all in top form as the concept is somewhat far fetched while based on some dodgy science and even more implausible situations, even beyond Guttenberg trying to be serious. Still, I enjoyed it 30 years ago and I enjoyed it again with this recent rewatch. I did find it ironic that Olivier, found chasing Mengele here had played the role of a similar Nazi doctor himself in Marathon Man only two years earlier. For his part, Peck was said to have relished the idea of playing the doctor as a welcome change from his usual Goody Two Shoes roles. It may not have hit the mark but it was certainly different.

Movie Reviews 362 – Hair (1979)

September 21, 2018

Hair is a musical based on a play that tries to capture the tumultuous counter-culture 1960’s era in which America dealt with the Vietnam war and the backlash against the draft feeding the forces, the rise of the hippie counter-culture and their experimentation with abundant hallucinogens and the sexual revolution. Throw in political assassinations, race riots, anti-war demonstrations and the threat of nuclear annihilation with an ever escalating arms race and you begin to sense the stress and anxiety across the land. Heady times indeed.

When Claude (John Savage), a young country boy from Oklahoma, disembarks from a bus with just a few bucks in his pocket at the foot of New York’s Central Park just days before he has to present himself for boot camp, he meets up with a hippie gang looking for a handout. Claude’s intent is on seeing all the tourist sites the Big Apple has to offer before heading out to war, but when the leader of the gang George (Treat Williams) takes a liking to Claude and adopts him into the gang Claude gets to see a part of America that was not on his checklist.

The camaraderie and panhandling has the gang rebuffed by three posh equestrian women riding in the park, but not before Claude gets an eyeful of Sheila (Beverly D’angelo) and performs some of his own rodeo tricks for the gal. The side glances are not missed by George who decides his new friend Claude should spend a bit more time with the reluctant Sheila before joining up with Uncle Sam.That means crashing a formal garden party held at Sheila’s parent’s estate which lands the entire group in jail only to have Sheila come to the rescue.

But once sprung and enjoying a night on the town George pulls a practical joke on skinny dipping Claude and Sheila which results in a frosty reception by everyone. Months later with Claude now in Nevada and about to be shipped overseas, George rounds up the gang including Sheila to visit Claude and to make amends. But with the camp in lockdown George is forced to play one last ruse, only this one too has consequences.

While I was a 70’s teen I was just a tad too young and one country away to have been part of the more radical 70’s portrayed here. Yet I’ve always had an affinity and even jealousy for those that were able to experience the era, warts and all. As such I’ve always had a fondness for movies that captured one or more of the aspects addressed here. But I must say that I was a bit underwhelmed with how little impact it made on me. Understandably as a musical I did not expect as heavy a hand as a pure drama would but at the same time this story was a but too sugar coated and whimsical. Yes some of the issues that were (and still are) indicative of the times were brought up, but in the most cases it was with a white glove treatment.

I was also expecting more of a musical tour de force being familiar with the theme song and number like Aquarius/Let the Sun Shine in, Good Morning Sunshine, and Easy To Be Hard. But aside from a few snippets of other hits of the era in the background I was not all that impressed by most of the other featured songs.

Despite the laudable intent, this Miloš Forman film, while not bad, did not live up to the hype for me. Just not groovy enough for my tastes.

Peace.

 

Movie Reviews 361 – Rush (2013)

September 14, 2018

I’ve always been partial to movies directed by Ron Howard who is much better behind the lens than he was in front of the camera as a child/teen actor despite being in a couple of hit television series. Looking at this directorial history it is clearly evident that his best efforts have been ‘real life’ stories, scoring accolades for such docudramas as Apollo 13 (my personal favorite), A Beautiful Mind, and Frost/Nixon. Rush is yet another feather in his cap where he has effectively captured the personal conflict between the two top contenders who were battling for the crown during the 1976 Formula One car racing season.

Niki Lauda (Daniel Brühl) and James Hunt (Chris Hemsworth) were two polar opposite and in their own way equally egotistic individuals, both driven to win the competition that year when faith intervened in the form of a tragic accident. With reigning champ Lauda in the points lead and only a few races to go in the season a fiery crash severely burns Lauda and leaves him hospitalized with a scorched face and one ear completely gone. Hunt, already a thorn in Lauda’s side from the season before and with more than his share of bad luck early in the season swings the tide and suddenly finds himself in contention to win. Undaunted, Lauda who really should be recuperating from the accident makes an astonishing and shocking appearance at the final race  where the championship will be decided.

Howard avoids the pitfall of over relying on on-track race thrills and delivers all the suspense from the characters themselves and the off track events which are more entertaining. He emphasizes the drastic differences between the personalities, both assholes in their own way. Hunt the boisterous braggart and his sexual proclivities against the calculating, self centered and unapologetic narcissistic Lauda. Both are extremely talented and yet both were shunned by wealthy parents for pursuing such an undignified profession. Aside from their talents at driving the only other thing they shared was the mutual hatred and loathing of one another. And yet through it all, there comes a glimmer of admiration and even respect.

This is not a film just for racing fanatics and you don’t need to really understand the sport at all to get the rush from this fine film. You’ll be entertained from beginning to end and not just once the final checkered flag declares the winner in the standings, because the true winners here is the viewing audience.

Movie Reviews 357 – Point Blank (1967)

August 10, 2018

The mysteries pile up quickly in director’s Point Blank based on the novel The Hunter by Donald Westlake. As a late night heist unfolds at vacated Alcatraz prison, we’re not sure what is being stolen, why and from who. We also don’t know much about the thieves, a man named Walker (Lee Marvin), a woman, and their accomplice named Mal Reese (John Vernon). More questions pile up as Reese counts the take and deems it insufficient for his needs forcing him to double-cross Walker. Which he does by shooting him. Point Blank.

With the help of a man named Yost (Keenan Wynn) Walker not only survives but recovers fully and now wants what was coming to him – the $93,000 that was his share of the take – and Reese. Both become an obsession and nothing will stand in his way which ends up translating to a lot of dead bodies.

It begins with the woman who was with the men the night of the heist. Walker’s wife who he learns not only sided with Reese but who she later fled with him to Los Angeles. But when he confronts her at Reese’s house he learns that Mal has already left her and while Walker can’t muster the courage to kill her she obligingly does the job for him.

Walker then follows a trail of clues and people as he deconstructs ‘the organization’, a crime syndicate that was the target that ill fated night and one that Reese now works for. With the aid of his sister-in-law (Angie Dickinson) and the mysterious Yost, Walker escalates the tiers of the organization getting ever closer to his money … and Mal.

This movie is a treat in many ways. Marvin is in top teeth gnashing, tough as nails form as he goes through maniacal phases that have him pumping lead into a empty bed and terrorizing a car salesman during a test drive. The mysterious organization is peeled back one layer at a time with many surprises along the way including a decent twist ending. It was enjoyable seeing Carroll O’Connor in a serious (well almost) role and genre fans should keep an eye out for Sid Haig in a “blink and you’ll miss him” role.

One other star in this film is Alcatraz prison, now more affectionately known simply as “the Rock”. While it has been featured in many movies since, according to the DVD special features this was the first movie made at the infamous island penitentiary so it was a big deal at the time.

Point Blank is one of those great sixties thrillers that never got the respect it deserves but is yet another film that showcased the talent of Marvin and the immense presence he always had. There is one great scene in which Marvin is filmed simply walking down a long corridor, energetically stomping every step of the extended shot. He doesn’t say anything or interact in a way but it expresses the unflinching determination of his character as much as any other scene.

Watch this one. Near, far or at point blank range.

Movie Reviews 355 – Angel Heart (1987)

July 27, 2018

Robert De Niro has always been one of the most versatile actors in Hollywood with roles ranging from roguish mobsters, punch drunk boxers, power hungry revolutionaries and surprisingly even in comedic portrayals. But when he took on the role of The Devil in Angel Heart it turned a lot of heads. But ever the trendsetter, DeNiro’s lord of darkness is not any red horned caricature but an immaculately attired and dignified Satan with a slick haircut and even sporting my earliest recollection of a “man bun”. Yes, this movie is different in many ways.

Beginning in post WWII New York, De Niro as Louis Cyphre (get it?) hires private eye Harry Angel (Mickey Rourke) to determine the status a man named Johnny Favorite. Cypher explains to the disheveled looking Angel that Johnny, a one time singer but later war veteran who returned with post traumatic stress and is reputedly being held in a mental institution. But Cyphre has his doubts and explains that he has some outstanding business dealings with Favorite and would like Angel to substantiate Favorite’s institutionalized status. Sure enough Harry discovers that records have been falsified and with great reluctance ends up following a trail that includes a fiancee (Charlotte Rampling), a mistress and her daughter (Lisa Bonet), and former band members all of which Harry encounter in New Orleans.

This “gumshoe-horror” – for lack of a better description – is both a mystery in the traditional sense, while the horror elements are more those of human failings than supernatural ones with just a touch of voodoo rituals. But there is a distinct trail of bodies along Harry’s journey for the truth and the truth is the twist ending.

This movie was criticized more for the scenes of Lisa Bonet – a member of America’s idyllic TV family at the time for her role as one of the kids in The Cosby Show – exposing herself in a few shots and one particular racy sex scene than any of the horror gore. There is also a lot of symbolism, some obvious and others not so much – I could never figure out why but there are fans, big, small, rotating, stationary, every few minutes. And there are plenty of chickens as constantly being pointed out as one of Harry’s phobias and the voodoo offerings.

All of these bizarre elements make Angel Heart stand out as an unusual film that I would classify as ‘must see’ by any cinefile no matter your genre of preference.

Movie Reviews 350 – Dial M for Murder (1954)

June 22, 2018

After bringing up what was arguably actor Ray Milland‘s worst cinematic achievement, the fun but highly undignified The Thing With Two Heads I felt somewhat obligated to remind everyone that he was once one of Hollywood’s brightest stars. And what better way to do that than to review what may have been his best performance, that of the scheming husband in Alfred Hitchcock’s Dial M for Murder.

Based on a brilliant stage, the mystery can be broken down as distinct acts that could be titled as The illicit lovers, The murder plan, The failed execution, The cover up and The unraveling.

The film first introduces us to the Wendices, a respectful and refined social couple discussing day to day musings at the breakfast table. As Tony Wendice (Milland) sips his coffee his wife Margot (Grace Kelly) notices that a particular famed writer will soon be arriving on a transcontinental ocean liner. Peeling back that first layer of respectability, we learn that the writer, Mark Halliday (Robert Cummings) long ago had an affair with Margot. An affair that he hopes to rekindle. As Margot rebuffs his intentions she confesses that she once considered leaving Tony for Mark. But when evidence of their affair, an old confessional letter was once lost and nearly came to Tony’s attention, she decided to reaffirmed her faithfulness to her husband.

The second act then reveals Tony’s own darker side as he goes to great lengths to blackmail a former acquaintance to murder Margot. It all started with the letter and since that time he has realized that he would be destitute without Margot and has been scheming ever since. So meticulous has been his planning that he explains exactly how and when the murder is to proceed which will give him an ironclad alibi. And all his planning nearly work except for one minute detail …

Part of the fun is following all the artifacts that come into play for the setup and execution of the dastardly plan. Keys, letters, photos, and a myriad of other details. The audience is convinced that the plan seems foolproof, and yet when it does come apart we are just as entertained by how Tony determinedly hangs in and covers up his involvement, one fact at a time. So successful is he with his cover up that he attains his original goal as a result of the spin he puts on events on the evidence despite the failure of his original plan.

At first, the foiled crime seems cut and dry to the police. But both Halliday, being a crime fiction writer and one especially tenacious chief inspector (John Williams) keep Tony on his toes. And the cleverest part is the ultimate test that Tony is challenged with while not even knowing he is under a microscope.

I thought that the camera movements were particularly interesting as it to follows pivotal objects of interest to the crime but I later learned that this movie was actually filmed in early 3D technology which I suspect may have had an impact on some of those framing choices. But cinematics aside, the movie presents an intricate puzzle during each act.

A great murder mystery at the hands of the master Hitchcock and a redemptive portrayal for Milland should you ever believe that he was never an A-list thespian.

Movie Reviews 346 – Fearless (2006)

May 24, 2018

While Jet Li has always been a fair actor with martial arts skills to match the movies he has performed in have been decidedly mixed in terms of quality as well as varied in terms of roles he has played. That range includes prominent roles such as the silent captive in Unleashed to his less than  inspirational government bred super soldier in Black Mask. Now that I have finally come around to watching Fearless I can easily say that  this is by far my favorite Li film, both from the point of view of the story and in particular his multi-faceted role.

As a youngster Huo Yuanjia (Li) diligently watched his father teaching martial arts in his private school. Despite being beaten at school constantly by bullies his father refused to teach Huo himself how to fight due to his asthmatic condition. Unfazed and with the help of his more level headed best friend Jinsun (Dong Yong) he manages to steal a textbook so that he can teach himself how to fight. His inclination to learn becomes all encompassing the day he watches his father die in a ‘Death Challenge’ after having been victorious in a string of prior challenges. His father’s death is all the more perplexing to Huo as he had the upper hand in the battle but failed to deliver the fatal blow after having taken down the opponent.

Now a young family man, Huo racks up a string of victories just as his father did, until he becomes reigning champion of the region. But Huo arrogantly flaunts his status as his followers and students party incessantly. When a visiting rival fighter, Qin Lei, beats up one of Huo’s students he immediately goes to a family feast being hosted by Qin in his old friend Jinsun’s establishment. There Huo publicly challenges Qin, disrupting the festivities. Jinsun warns Huo that he is being reckless, but Huo will have none of it, and severing his friendship with Jinsun soundly beats Qin in battle. It is only after Qin dies overnight as a result of his injuries that Huo learns that he did not have the full story. But in retaliation Qin’s nephew has meted out his own justice, killing Huo’s family including his beloved young daughter.

A shattered man, Huo leaves town and becomes a wandering vagrant saved from drowning one day by old woman. The woman brings him home to heal at the hands of her blind daughter Yueci (Sun Li). In their village Toiling in the rice fields Huo learn about humility, patience, and finally love as he falls for Yueci. But Huo is compelled to return to his home to make amends for his past, and once there he is again lured to the battle arena. But this is a new Huo, and his fate will be dictated by his newfound wisdom.

While Fearless does have action sequences – one a particular standout battle atop a high scaffold arena – this is not an action packed film like most of Li’s other films. This film has a split personality that mimics the transition of Huo’s character growth. Edgy at first, then flowing into a somber and humble pace. The message of the film is one of personal ambition clashing with family values, morals and personal integrity while throwing in a dash of anti-colonialism. The end of kind of a mixed bag with Huo finding his inner peace but at a coming with price nonetheless.

If your looking for an action movie there are plenty of better choices, but if you want a well rounded martial arts film this will suit the bill and is definitely recommended.

 

Movie Reviews 343 – The Picture of Dorian Gray (1945)

May 3, 2018

Oscar Wilde‘s The Picture of Dorian Gray is a novel that straddles being a love story, a morality play and a Victorian gothic horror. This multi-angled plot is why many underrate or dismiss altogether the ‘Horror’ label and why MGM, not recognized for horror other than a few sporadic efforts decided to stray from their roots and produce this 1945 adaptation of The Picture of Dorian Gray. This is quite a shame as the studio delivers in all the aforementioned elements in this finely crafted film that included great performances by the entire main cast.

Dorian Gray (Hurd Hatfield) is a young aristocrat who embraces his youth and upon seeing his finished portrait declares “As I grow old my picture will stay young. I wish it was the other way around”. But such Faustian desires are always fraught with danger and when Dorian first falters at holding societal norms, callously testing his lover’s morals, he notices that there are slight yet unmistakable changes in his picture. Over time he discovers that he is indeed ageless while his image ages in his place. But even worse than simply maturing, this portrait begins accumulating grotesque features for each and every of Dorian’s misdeeds. As his exploits and destruction continue in an ever widening spiral, so does the painting until it becomes a monstrous obscenity that even he cringes to look upon.

Dorian is the focus of the story but George Sanders takes top billing as the callous and heartless Lord Wotton who first leads Dorian down the poisonous path. The first victim is a poor, lovely singer (Angela Lansbury) who captures Dorian’s heart but is the one that he morbidly tests. Despite the terrible outcome this test, Dorian continues baneful ways for years, indifferent to the murmurs and lurid speculation among nobles. The second woman  to catch his affections is Gladys (Donna Reed), the niece of the painter that created the portrait when she was but a child. At this point Dorian becomes more perceptive of the harm inflicted on others around him and wishes to spare Gladys the evident eventual torment. But can he turn back to clock?

As lauded as the cast is the stunning mutating artwork that is the title of the movie. The movie was filmed in black and white but it does switch to color (a novelty at the time) for a few seconds at points in the film when the portrait is being shown depicting further decay. These brief expositions are quite effective, especially when Dorian has just stabbed his first direct murder victim and we now view ghastly red blood added to the portrait’s palette. Artist Ivan Albright, already celebrated for his time consuming, intricate detail work painted the ever deteriorating Dorian (as well as the freakish backdrop) but this was done on top of a painting of a young Dorian by another artist. Thankfully the painting can still be enjoyed as it was preserved and currently resides in the Art Institute of Chicago.

The Picture of Dorian Gray is as celebrated on film as is the novel which is has remain in constant reprint across the world. There were British, German and Hungarian silent film renditions respectively released in 1916, 1917, 1918, well before this film. There have also been two remakes that were simply titled Dorian Gray, the first in 1970 an Italian production (Il dio chiamato Dorian) from B-movie maven Samuel Z. Arkoff that was quite indicative of the sexually liberal era in which it was filmed and the other in 2009 in a film that strays somewhat from the original version. And there is also a full title 2004 movie starring Josh Duhamel. But given all these choices, this is the version you want to see with your tea and crumpets.