TV Terror Guide: The Picture of Dorian Gray (1973)
Air Date: April 23, 1973 (ABC)
Production Companies: Dan Curtis Productions
Running Time: 111 min.
Available on: DVD (Dark Sky Films)
Written by: John Tomerlin
From the novel by Oscar Wilde
Directed by: Glenn Jordan
Cast: Shane Briant, Nigel Davenport, Charles Aidman, William Aidman, William Beckley, Brendan Dillon, Fionnula Flanagan, Vanessa Howard, John Karlen, Linda Kelsey
As a special treat this week, I present another excerpt from a feature I wrote for the upcoming We Belong Dead publication, Masters of Terror. In it, I discuss the influence of gothic literature on Dan Curtis and how it was reflected in a number of 1970s TV horror films that he produced, as well as the daytime series, Dark Shadows (1966-1971), which he created. Please enjoy this sneak peek, and keep your eyes and ears open for information about purchasing the book...
Three months after the premiere of Frankenstein, ABC late-night aired The Picture of Dorian Gray, produced, but not written, by Curtis. Jeff Thompson claims that this version of Oscar Wilde’s story is considered one of the two best adaptations (the other being MGM’s 1945 movie starring Hurd Hatfield.) It was shot in only four days; twice as long was spent rehearsing. Actor Shane Briant said, “Dan Curtis is a very strong character, strong-willed and a hard taskmaster. If he says you shoot it in four days, you shoot it in four days!”
Although he had appeared in two Hammer Films thrillers in 1972 (Straight on Till Morning and Demons of the Mind) the opening credits of The Picture of Dorian Gray read, “Introducing Shane Briant.” With his youthful good looks, Briant is perfectly cast. In a story that doesn’t necessarily offer a lot of action, a strong cast is necessary, and top-billed Nigel Davenport is terrific as Sir Harry Wotton, the “bad influence” on Dorian that eventually tires of the nightlife as he grows older and Dorian remains the same age. Dorian eventually tires of it himself, but by then, of course, it’s too late for his salvation.
Dark Shadows featured a variation of the Dorian Gray story as part of its 1897 plot, which aired over the course of 184 episodes (700-885) between February 28 and November 14 of 1969. Count Petofi (Thayer David) commissions Charles Delaware Tate (Roger Davis) to paint a portrait of Quentin Collins (David Selby), who carries the curse of the werewolf. However, upon its completion, it is his likeness in the portrait that transforms on the full moon while Quentin does not. Likewise, his likeness grows old while Quentin does not. Unlike Dorian Gray, Quentin Collins does not die by destroying the portrait, not for lack of trying, though. As far as we know, it remains hidden somewhere in the Old House and, last we saw him, Quentin was still young.
The Picture of Dorian Gray is available on DVD from Amazon.com or streaming on Amazon Prime. Visit the TV Terror Guide: 70's TV Movies playlist at ClassicHorrors.Club TV on YouTube to watch other great movies from this series...