Written by: Michael Den Boer on July 25th, 2011
Theatrical Release Date: UK / Italy / West Germany, 1970
Director: Massimo Dallamano
Writers: Marcello Coscia, Massimo Dallamano, Günter Ebert
Cast: Helmut Berger, Richard Todd, Herbert Lom, Marie Liljedahl, Margaret Lee, Maria Rohm, Beryl Cunningham, Isa Miranda, Eleonora Rossi Drago, Renato Romano, Stewart Black, Francesco Tensi, Renzo Marignano
DVD released: June 28th, 2011
Approximate running time: 101 minutes
Aspect Ratio: 1.66:1 Anamorphic Widescreen
Sound: Dolby Digital Mono Italian, Dolby Digital Mono English
DVD Release: Raro Video
Region Coding: Region 0 NTSC
Retail Price: $19.98
The Secret of Dorian Grey was co-written and directed Massimo Dallamano, who would only direct a total of twelve films before his untimely death at the age of fifty nine. His most notable films as a director include What Have You Done to Solange? and What Have They Done to Your Daughters? Before making the transition to directing, Massimo Dallamano was one of the most in demand cinematographers. Some of his more notable films as a cinematographer included Gunfight at Red Sands, A Fistful of Dollars, Bullets Don’t Argue and For a Few Dollars More.
Though The Secret of Dorian Grey was one of only three films that Otello Spila worked on a cinematographer. He was a camera operator on several notable films, Blood and Roses, Black Belly of the Tarantula, What? and The Inglorious Bastards.
The Producer on The Secret of Dorian Grey was Harry Alan Towers, who is most known for his collaborations with Spanish filmmaker Jess Franco. Most notably Eugenie… the Story of Her Journey Into Perversion and Venus in Furs. And just like many of his collaborations with Jess Franco, The Secret of Dorian Grey would be adapted from a literary work, Oscar Wilde’s novel ‘The Picture of Dorian Gray’.
The idea of retaining youth has crossed most of our minds at one time in our lives. And it is this aspect of Dorian Grey that has made this story endure and continue to fascinate each new generation which discovers its. Plot wise, The Secret of Dorian Grey does don’t diverge away to far from Oscar Wilde’s novel. With the main difference between the two being, The Secret of Dorian Grey modern day setting in 1960’s swinging London. And while there is a dated look to this adaptation, the underlining message of the story has not lost any of its luster and one could easily argue that this story is more relevant now, than it ever has been. In today’s world we live in a society that is consumed by beauty and living well beyond ones means. These two themes are central to Dorian Grey’s journey in the story at hand.
Visuals the film is filled with picturesque images that perfectly capture the beauty that Dorian Grey is so desperate to retain. And perhaps the most interesting choice visuals are POV shots, most notably the opening sequences which foreshadows what it yet to come at the film’s climax.
Without a doubt this film’s greatest asset is its cast, especially Helmut Berger in the role of Dorian Grey. From a psychical stand point he perfectly embodies the Adonis psychical traits that one would expect from someone that is portrayed as being irresistible. Known for playing decadent roles in films like Luchino Visconti’s The Damned, Salon Kitty and Beast with a Gun. He does a superb job realizing Dorian’s every desire.
Many of the cast are recognizable faces to anyone familiar with Harry Alan Towers other films, Marie Liljedahl starred in the aforementioned Eugenie… the Story of Her Journey Into Perversion, Margret Lee (Circus of Fear), Maria Rohm Harry Alan Towers wife (Jess Franco’s Count Dracula), Herbert Lom (99 Women), who plays a devil like character who leads Dorian on his perverse rites of passage. One scene in particular that is sure to make some viewers uneasy, is a shower scene in which Herbert Lom’s character Henry Wotton caresses Dorian in the shower. A few other notable performances include Richard Todd (A Man Called Peter) in the role of Basil Hallward the artist who paints Dorian’s portrait and Eleonora Rossi Drago (Violent Summer).
Raro Video presents The Secret of Dorian Grey in an anamorphic widescreen that preserves the film’s original 1.66:1 aspect ratio. Raro Video had previously released this film on DVD in 2008 and that transfer framed that image in a 1.85:1 aspect ratio. For this release Raro Video has created a new master from the film’s original negative and the overall quality of this new transfer is extremely good. Colors look vibrant, black levels look very good, details look crisp and there are no problems with compression.
This release comes with two audio options, a Dolby Digital Mono mix in Italian and a Dolby Digital Mono mix in English. Of the two audio mixes included with this release, the English audio mix fares much better as dialog comes through clearly, everything sounds balanced and there are no problems with background noise or distortion. The Italian audio mix on the other hand has some issues with background noise and distortion, with dialog often sounding flat. Also included with this release are removable English subtitles that are easy to follow and error free. It should also be noted that these do not appear to be ‘dubtitles’ and that they are direct translation of the Italian dialog.Also included with this release are English subtitles that are easy to follow and error free.
Extras for this release include a text based filmography for director Massimo Dallamano and a interview assistant director Maurizio Tanfani (30 minutes 53 seconds – 4:3 full frame, in Italian with English subtitles), a frequent collaborator of Bruno Mattei. Also included with this release is a four page booklet with liner notes the film and this DVD release. Some topics include casting – like Franco Nero being considering for the role of Dorian Grey, working with Massimo Dallamano, shooting on location in London and Helmut Berger’s performance. He discusses in depth working as a casting agent and various other film projects that he has worked on. Overall The Secret of Dorian Grey gets a first rate release from Raro Video.