The Picture of Dorian Gray appears in an aspect ratio of 1.33:1 on this single-sided, double-layered DVD; due to those dimensions, the image has not been enhanced for 16X9 televisions. Although the transfer showed its age, the movie usually looked fine.
As expected, source flaws presented the majority of the flickís problems. I noticed a mix of specks, marks, spots and nicks throughout its running time. While these never became overwhelming, they occurred with moderate frequency.
Otherwise, I thought the film offered decent visuals. Sharpness consistently appeared positive. Only minor softness ever showed up, as the majority of the movie demonstrated good clarity. I noticed no issues with jagged edges or shimmering, and edge enhancement caused only minor intrusions.
Though the vast majority of the flick was black and white, it did come with some Technicolor inserts. These showed the titular portrait on two brief occasions. In those shots, the colors were adequate but not particularly strong. Since the movie used so few of them, however, they werenít an issue.
As for the black and white side of things, I thought the movie provided clean, vivid contrast. Blacks appeared dark and firm, and shadows were satisfying. A few interiors seemed slightly dense, but most low-light shots were clear and appropriately visible. Overall, I liked the transfer; only the persistent print defects and the mild edge enhancement made it a ďC+ď presentation.
I thought the monaural audio of Picture was perfectly adequate for its age. It didnít exceed expectations for a mix of its era, but the audio was more than acceptable. Speech lacked edginess. The lines werenít exactly natural, but they seemed distinctive and without problems.
Effects were a little flat, but they showed no distortion and displayed acceptable definition. Music was pretty lively given its age, as the score sounded reasonably bright and concise. No background noise was noticeable. All together, I found little about which to complain, as the soundtrack aged well.
In terms of extras, the main attraction comes from an audio commentary with actor Angela Lansbury and film historian Steve Haberman. Both sit together for this running, screen-specific chat. They discuss cast and crew, performance-related topics, the source novel and its adaptation, and a few other issues connected to the film.
Lansbury and Haberman combine to make this an effective commentary. Haberman gives us good background notes, while Lansbury adds a nice first-person perspective to the piece. The two of them interact well and create an informative and enjoyable chat.
Along with the filmís trailer, we locate two period shorts. These include the live-action Stairway to Light (10:21) and the animated Quiet Please! (7:36). In Light, we get a quick biography of Phillippe Pinel and his pioneering work with the mentally disturbed. The piece is too short and superficial to turn into much, but it tells an interesting story.
As for Quiet, it gives us a Tom and Jerry cartoon. The cat and mouse fight so much that they distract a bulldog from his nap. The dog threatens Tom with pain if another interruption occurs, so naturally Jerry does his best to taunt his feline adversary. Iíve never been a big T&J fan, and nothing here changes that, though the relentless violence does become amusing in a non-PC way.
The Picture of Dorian Gray presents a mixed bag of a movie. On one hand, it boasts a fascinating story and some good supporting performances. On the other, the lead actor seems too bland, and the film tells its tale in a lackluster manner. The DVD offers decent picture and audio along with a few moderately interesting extras. This is an average release for a spotty movie.