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CBSRMT Episode Information
Title:
The Picture of Dorian Gray
('Oscar Wilde classic')
Plot:
In exchange for eternal youth, a man makes a deal with the devil and gives up his soul. As he is consumed by evil, his portrait changes to mirror the abomination he has become.
Episode:
0129
Air Dates:
First Run - August 7, 1974
Repeat - October 5, 1974
Repeat - January 9, 1978
Repeat - May 13, 1979
Writer:
Listen:
Rating:
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28 Responses to Episode 0129


An Excellent Classic! I have always LOVED this particular episode which I first heard on am radio in Dayton, Ohio, sometime in the 1970's. Well written, well acted and also well directed ~ FANTASTIC.

Dorian Gray is a young attractive man who sits for a portrait and offers to sell his soul for eternal youth. He meets a man and the two engage in all forms of debauchery and sin - living only for the moment and without regard to others. The portrait changes with every new act and reflects the real hideous man Dorian has become.

A young man strikes the Faustian bargain in exchange for eternal youth. But as his soul is consumed by the evil that overtakes him, a portrait of him changes to reflect the ugliness of his soul.

As I remember the novel, this is a pretty faithful rendering. The original story covers a greater span of time - explicitly something like 20 years - or enough for Dorian's continued youthfulness to become apparent. I'm sure there are a lot of changes but the only thing which struck me was the scene in which Dorian states that he would sell his soul to the devil if only the picture would age while he remained the same... And the picture then falls to the floor. This seems unnecessarily obvious. Dorian's cruel breakup with Sybil Vane is as well motivated as it was in the novel although the reason is different in this version. Pretty good overall.

Strong performance from Rose

A handsome young man, Dorian Gray, having his portrait painted, talks with an older man about life and pleasure. The old man tells him that life is solely for the pursuit of pleasure and one’s own satisfaction and indulgence. Dorian takes this to heart and struck with his own beauty in the painting is jealous that the artwork will keep his beauty while he will age. He says he would sell his soul to the devil if he would remain ageless and the painting would take the ravages of time. He then embarks on a life of debauchery and self-indulgence and it appears the devil was listening and accepted the offer. Can Dorian come to terms with what he sees in the painting? Fabulous adaptation of the Wilde story.

George Lowther adaptation of Oscar Wilde novel; starring Nick Pryor, Norman Rose, Roger Dekovan .

If you like news broadcasts, there's a somewhat tense CBS News at the beginning of this one, so check it out. It's a great episode as well!

I didn't really catch on to the "undertones" hinted at by Dorian and Sir Henry's exchange. But, you're right, about how RMT occassionally slipped things like this pass the censors. I have two thoughts on this. First, Who did "censor" RMT? Were they required to submit their scripts to the FCC or some other governing body? How does that work with radio? Secondly, perhaps "whomever" paid little attention, because, after all, it was "just" radio. Who really listens to radio shows and because all the "visuals" created bt RMT are purely in the "Mind's eye" perhaps it's less "dangerous" --it's certainly far more subtle-- and a lot easier to "hide" certain implied situations. They probably just didn't take RMT as seriously as T.V. shows of the day. But the "Theater of the Mind" certainly makes a lasting impression on those of us willing to extend our imaginations beyond the common place......... Until Next Time..............

It's as if the RMT had more or less free reign, because even though we were just past the "free love", radical 1960s it seems to me that our American society had strong enough moral underpinnings left that many of these RMT tales were accepted and taken for the fables (and as such, morality tales and warnings) they were. (Frankly, the 60s were a sort of beginning, so there really wasn't time for the unleashed worldview of that era to have taken root among the general populace yet, which was a blessing for both the RMT and its listeners.) Seriously, I've NEVER heard of legal or censorship action ever taken against the RMT. I'd be surprised if it didn't happen somewhere at some local jurisdiction, but I've never heard of it happening.

That would be interesting to discover. If, there was any legal action ever taken against RMT, even at a local level? Was there ever a situation where Himan Brown had to leave out a line or a theme due to network pressure? I'd be curious to find out. For the most part, RMT almost always had the "sinners" ultimately pay for their transgressions. Probably one reason these themes occasionally were allowed to air. Interesting little side-bar to explore..................

RMT was always very subtle in addressing controversial subjects, and never thrust them in your face. Also, radio is a much smaller forum then television or cinema, and out of the spotlight one has much greater freedom. The same is true of literature. Books have a much smaller (and more educated) audience then the other mediums, hence greater freedom. The novel "Lolita" eventually found a publisher and avoided being baned in most modern countries, but when it was made into a movie, the sexuality was heavily watered down. At least that is my take on it. And I definitely agree that people are much more tolerant of scandalous subject matter as long the practitioners of said behavior are seen to suffer from it.

I really liked this adaptation. Sometimes I kind of dread CBSRMT adaptations of classic novels...like the Dracula adaptation, where E.G. keeps promising us at each commercial break that if we haven't been scared witless yet, we will be soon...never happened for me. But I thought this one was great, especially for spelling out some of the things that were left to the imagination in Wilde's original. In more so than most adaptations of this story, you really got a feel for what a jerk Dorian was. Back on the subject of CBSRMT adaptations, I really liked what George Lowthar did with The Pit and the Pendulum. I fell asleep listening to that one on my iPod and it gave me nightmares as I drifted in and out!

Regarding "Picture of Dorian Gray", it's just interesting how the RMT 30 years ago treated certain subjects in the episodes I mentioned, especially in light of yesterday's announced Oscar nominees for this year. (Can you imagine E.G. Marshall onstage making a presentation like Quote: E.G. MARSHALL: "...and this year's nominees for 'Best Achievement in Music Written for Motion Pictures, Original Song' are...'It's hard out here for a pimp' from 'Hustle & flow', performed by 'Djay', written by Jordan Houston, Cedric Coleman and Paul Beauregard..." SFX: Applause and cheers MUSIC: "North Memphis where I'm from, I'm 7th Street bound Where niggaz all the time end up lost and never found Man these girls think we prove thangs, leave a big head They come hopin every night, they don't end up bein dead Wait I got a snow bunny, and a black girl too You pay the right price and they'll both do you..." SFX: Applause and cheers (I'd be ready for him to do an "RMT third act outro" commentary after that one...)

A fine show and a fine encode. The Nixon news at the beginning is a nice addition; some of us remember those days . . . some as children remember things and some as adults remember things. But if you're 30 years old or younger you're not part of that club. It's difficult or impossible for me to be objective about Dorian. It seems to be very well written and acted, but somehow it doesn't have that magic "umph" for me. I'm pretty sure it's my over-familiarity with the story. (As if I could say, "I was sure surprised when Hamlet died at the end of the play.") So I think it's a good or even great episode from RMT. But for me . . . not so much. Weird, because the RMT version of Jeckyl/Hyde still strikes me as very fresh and lively, and I'm probably equally familiar with that tale. Of course some/many of the scenes are very good; when the girlfriend dies, the struggle in the attic, and conversations with the butler. The original moral of the tale holds up well; you sow what you reap, and what goes around comes around. Somewhat of a platitude but very accurate nonetheless. Something that each person of each generation has to learn anew. Well, time to get back to my painting. I'm doing a rendition of my dog hoping that this will forstall the ageing process in the beast. He does live a wild life, on the edge most of the time, so it'll be interesting to check up on the condition of the work from time to time once it's completed. No doubt he'll store it in the attic of his doghouse.

i completely understand you about it being a story you're overly familiar with, though it really is a great RMT adaptation. i find, though i adore Norman Roses' presence on the RMT, he can sometimes portray a personality type rather than a character, sort of the way Bogart did in film... you know it's Bogart, he's not different that he was in any of his other films, yet somehow it works. i feel the same way about Norman Rose. he could play Mr. Winkles from Scooby Doo and still maintain his Norman Roseness, yet still be a convincing Mr. Winkles. does that make any sense? i read Dorian Gray when i was a freshman in high school. i liked it, but it creeped me out. the image on the cover of the book - a decaying face - was gruesome, and that's stayed with me. i read it again about three or four years ago, and the cover was much more romantic, yet the eyes of that old, decaying face were still in my mind. and so i found they were present once again while listening to this show. and lastly, yeah, I remember the Nixon era. what a lovely time. if you haven't seen it, i highly recommend the lengthy film, NIXON, starring Anthony Hopkins... he'll scare you more as Nixon than he did as Hannibal Lectur, for sure!!

Gang, in the age of the Web, and of Google that we live in, it's so fascinating to be able to hear these plays 30+ years later and be able to look at them, their actors and their authors in a whole different way while appreciating the original play (and story). First, an interesting take on Wilde and "Dorian Gray" from a National Review writer a couple of years ago... Quote: In this age of political correctness, in which people are so often recognized for how they identify themselves rather than for what they accomplish, Wilde's renewed popularity in Hollywood and Manhattan is quite likely due largely to the fact that he was gay. But whatever the reason for the revival, if it leads more people to discover his works then it can only have a salutary effect on our greatly debased culture. For Wilde, in addition to being among the most witty and brilliant craftsmen of the English language since Shakespeare, was also the quintessential moralist. Both in his plays and his novel, The Picture of Dorian Gray (1891), Wilde dispenses justice and moral judgment in true Victorian fashion. We know precisely who the villains are and who the decent folk, and we see them both get their just desserts — which is to say exactly what they've brought upon themselves as a direct consequence of their own actions. Wilde respected social norms, the necessary standards of decent and indecent public behavior without which any society collapses into anarchy. An Ideal Husband (1895) concerns a thoroughly honest and respected government minister who refuses to be blackmailed for a mistake he made years ago, even though it potentially means his personal and professional ruin. In Dorian Gray, a young man's portrait becomes increasingly disfigured while he remains youthful and handsome, indulging in every form of sin, but coming inevitably to a bad end. Wilde assumed many poses in his life; he frequently remarked, for instance, that art existed merely for art's sake, and that no artist should have "ethical sympathies." But his work belied such flippancies. Wilde said of Dorian Gray, "All excess, as well as all renunciation, brings its own punishment." Indeed, it is only because Wilde recognized and approved of social norms and standards of conduct that he was able to detect and ridicule hypocrisy so well, most notably and hysterically in Earnest (1895). ...Unfortunately, revisiting Wilde's work is a reminder of just how far our modern culture has traveled down the road of self-celebration. The embarrassing and tiresome spectacle of gay camp is splashed across our film and television screens — and thus into our living rooms. To be a gay character (and increasingly, a heterosexual one) on television or in a movie nowadays is virtually an automatic license to be silly, irresponsible, selfish, flamboyant, and sexually promiscuous (this, of course, is a partial list). Displaying such consequence-free behavior for the purpose of entertainment is not only lazy, but unhealthy and disrespectful of every social norm that has ever existed in Western civilization, and thus does a disservice to us all. Wilde would likely agree. However he behaved in his personal life, Oscar Wilde, to his great and lasting credit, recognized that engaging in private vice does not exempt one from the obligations of public virtue.

Just a few "stream of consciousness" thoughts: - That RMT music is so haunting...I forget what time mark it is, but the unnerving (another CBS stock music used in "The twilight zone", I believe) sounder used when Gray and his painter friend (played by Rose) agree to go up in the attic to see the mutations in the painting sticks with me for some reason. - Rose was always wonderful...I loved when, right after that same music bed, he said: "MmmmMIL-DYEW must have gotten into the canvas..." - IMO, an underappreciated (and not frequently used) actor for the RMT was Roger de Koyven. (sic?) He was good in this one as Lord Henry Wotten ("I might ALSO have added that the only way to overcome temptation is to fight it!") but my favorite performance of his is as the retired Stanford professor conducting dangerous experiments in mental telepathy in "The breaking point". - In the pre-politically correct (until, perhaps, the 1982 season) era of the RMT, it was interesting to see how the program handled homosexuality/lesbianism/transgender issues. Notable programs with this theme in varying degrees of prominence are: - Picture of Dorian Gray - The long blue line - The sinister shadow - The secret sharer - Death is a woman (with a notable role by the RMT's Gordon Heath, who died of AIDS a decade or two ago) - Dressed to kill (the latter a farcical murder story, but interesting nonetheless) It was also broached in -The cornstarch killer - Change of heart (interestingly, from 1982) I'm not trying to get into a discussion of same, but rather just how the RMT handled it. (Note in particular E.G. Marshall's comments either at the end of "Dorian Gray's" third act, the conclusion, or both.) - How often did Nick Pryor appear in the RMT? The only other thing I think I remember him in is as the ill-fated young husband from Nebraska in "Speak of the devil" (also from 1974.)

I have to agree with Mr. Miller regarding the first 6 minutes on Nixon (including the bit with Dan Rather). That was certainly a nice touch, leaving it in. I remember the first time I read this story, which was shortly after first listening to this episode of RMT. Quite the opposite of my experience with the Oblong Box, where I was already familiar with the story before having listened to the RMT broadcast. I particularly like the change in Dorian Gray's voice as the story progresses, as if his tortured, diseased soul is trying to break through the facade of his physical beauty. This episode was just as haunting to me today as it was some 30 years ago, and I feel equally inspired to pull the book down off the shelf again. Great choice!

some amazing powers of observation.

there's a reason i refuse to watch silly award shows. if i want to see wealthy clowns, i'll go to the circus and throw quarters. ugh.

I believe Oscar Wilde was one of the first to use it. I know Faust predates it, but I don't know of any other Faustian storyes that predate Dorian Gray.

I don't want to be the RMT's "expert" on this matter, but at work I'm listening to (for the first time) a strange little Elspeth Eric piece entitled "Fallen Angel" from the 1975 season...add it to the episode list I compiled above.

A very powerful statement on the wages of sin. My impression was that this tale followed closely its source material. Does anyone know if that's true? The whole visual created in my mind of the attic and its horrid contents (The mutating portrait, Sir Henry's murdered corpse...) really captured my imagination. I think I dreaded Dorian's return there-- at the end-- as much as he. Being a sometimes portrait artist, I really enjoyed the clever use of a portrait as a "diary" which recorded the depravities of its subject.

I tried but was unsuccessful in finding a National Review article I once read on Wilde which dealt with this very story and a few others of his. As I recall, it said how Wilde (ostensibly from personal experience) saw what a monstrous creation one becomes when they focus on themselves and their own vanity. Step back and think for a moment though...again, this episode dealt with a subject that, frankly, was and is quite controversial. And look at the quote directly from this episode above...while I've got to add one needs to know the battle they're fighting, this quote ALONE wouldn't make it into any hollywood-produced movie or radio show today given its subject. (Again, consider that the RMT was the little sister of "The Twilight Zone", which had an episode where (even though the subject was confronting Satan) the very idea of putting a CROSS (instead of the "staff of truth" which was used) on the door was voted down as too controversial in the early 60's of all times - a decade or more before the first RMT! Our wonderful RMT, even though it had several flawed episodes, took on HONESTLY the subject of homosexuality/lesbianism (This episode, "The sinister shadow", (I would argue) "Death is a woman", "Carmilla" (wonder how many would appreciate vampires if they knew the George Sheridan LeFanu story "Carmilla", a female vampire which molested girls starting at ages as young as 6 with the intent to kill them, was the direct inspiration for "Dracula" and seems to have directly or by default heavily influenced "Twilight"?), and some could include "The secret sharer"), abortion ("The phantom lullaby"), islamic terrorism ("The terrorist"), post-modernism ("The crack in the wall"), gambling ("You bet your life" and other episodes...to Twilight Zone's credit they did tackle that one), the value of parenting (the incredible (when you step back and think about it) "Welcome for a dead man", plus other episodes), the ongoing argument of heredity vs. environment ("Blood will tell"...an RMT with one of the all time best last second plot twists), the consequences of marital infidelity (take your pick of a bunch of episodes) and other controversial subjects with (IMO) frequently amazing ease. How did they do it, particularly in the mid-late 1970s era?

I'm with you on the awards shows! As for this episode, I just thought it was a cool variation of an old story. The deal with the devil story. A story that has been done so many times. The twilight zone used it repeatedly. I didn't read any political agenda into it. It was the deal with the devil story done very well. I just thought it was a great horror story. With excellent acting, directing etc. Just a great example of why I love mystery theater. 

This was Oscar Wilde's only novel; he was primarily a playwright. Still a little bit dated to learn that part of the reason Gray is "evil" is because he enjoys having sex. Deal with the Devil.

"The Picture of Dorian Gray" is a classic. George Lothar did an amazing job of adapting Wilde's work. It was a great listen. I do believe though that if the truth be told, MOST would sell their soul for eternal youth. Fortunately, MOST have a more obligation to living out the inevitable--we are all going to grow old and die. I write this today on my birthday. How utterly apropo. 5 star.

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