The Picture of Dorian Gray was writer/director Albert E. Lewin's fascinating follow-up to his expressive-esoterica masterpiece The Moon and Sixpence. Hurd Hatfield essays the title character, a London aristocrat who would sell his soul to remain handsome and young--and, in a manner of speaking, he does just that. Under the influence of his decadent (albeit witty) friend Lord Henry Wotton (George Sanders), Dorian Gray becomes the embodiment of virtually every sin known to man. The greatest of his sins is vanity: Gray commissions artist Basil Hallward (Lowell Gilmore) to paint his portrait. Admiring his own painted countenance, Gray silently makes a demonic pact. The years pass: everyone grows older but Gray, who seemingly gets younger and more good-looking every day. Hallward eventually stumbles upon the secret of Dorian's eternal youth: he finds his painting hidden in the attic, the portrait's face grown grotesquely aged and disfigured. Gray kills Hallward so that his secret will remain safe. Later on, Gray falls in love with Hallward's niece Gladys (Donna Reed). Certain that Gray is responsible for Hallward's death, Gladys' ex-boyfriend David Stone (Peter Lawford) sets out to prove it. He is joined in this mission by the brother of dance hall performer Sybil Vane (Angela Lansbury), who killed herself after Gray betrayed her. Essentially a black and white film, Picture of Dorian Gray bursts into Technicolor whenever the picture is shown in close-up.
by Hal Erickson synopsis