Raro Video USA
Director: Massimo Dallamano
Writers: Marcello Coscia, Massimo Dallamano
Stars: Helmut Berger, Richard Todd and Herbert Lom
What they say: Never before released on DVD in the U.S., The Secret of Dorian Gray is a classic, seventies, Italian film restored to its original splendor. Taking place in London, a wealthy young man, Dorian Gray, is in love with an aspiring actress named Sybil. He is also in the process of getting his portrait painted by his ascot-wearing friend, Basil. When the portrait is finished however, Dorian complains that he will grow old while the painting will never change. On the same night, as if he has sold his soul to the devil, exchanging vanity for morality, he ends it with Sybil, and accepts the seductive offer of a woman whose party he attends. The next day, the painting looks slightly older. In horror and fascination, Dorian hides it away and continues a life of sexual experimentation. Over time, the portrait shows signs of aging, but he remains youthful as if fueled by his ever-increasing libidinal lifestyle; finally, he and Basil face the painting. The exceptionally groovy score by Giuseppe De Luca enhances the seventies milieu.
What I say: In this lush film, the Dorian Gray story is transported to the swinging sixties. With cool trippy music and the wild fashions Italy was known for back then The Secret of Dorian Gray is a hipster look at beauty and immortality that really stays with you. Helmut Berger plays Dorian as a self centered himbo that takes advantage of every one and every opportunity that comes his way. When his artist friend makes a portrait of him, Dorian becomes jealous of the painting as it will never grow old. His desires cause the painting to age as he does not. Now with a new kind of freedom Dorian screws his way across Italy, man or woman, because if you don’t swing both ways, you miss half your chances.
Director Massimo Dallomano (What Have They Done to Solange?) is an expert at making beautiful films filled with dread. There is an uneasy pall over the whole affair but it’s so damn pretty you don’t care, much like with Dorian himself.
The transfer is excellent as well, it really shows off all the styles the film puts in front of us. The sound is a little hissy at time but it was the only complete sound track they had access to. This is a great package From Raro USA that also includes a liner notes booklet.