Blu-ray Review “The Picture of Dorian Gray (1945)”

Starring: George Sanders, Hurd Hatfield, Donna Reed, Angela Lansbury, Peter Lawford, Lowell Gilmore
Director: Albert Lewin
Rated: NR (Not Rated)
Studio: Warner Archive Collection
DVD Release Date: November 11, 2014
Run Time: 110 minutes

Film: 4 out of 5 stars
Blu-ray: 4 out of 5 stars
Extras: 3 out of 5 stars

Based on the classic by Oscar Wilde, “The Picture of Dorian Gray” is a nice blend of horror/drama with a pinch of supernatural. The film is just a year sort of its 70th anniversary and it still holds up today. Albert Lewin writes and directs with Angela Lansbury and Donna Reed star. I think this is Warner Archive Collection’s best release to date!

Official Premise: George Sanders commands the screen as the acerbic, cynical Lord Henry Wotton whose errant musings unwittingly plunge a soul into a leprotic existence of amoral degradation. Hurd Harfield plays the eponymous Gray whose unchanging, placid beauty is enabled by his cursed portrait that embodies his age and decay.

The 1080p HD presentation is nothing short of pristine. It really showcases Cinematographer Harry Stradling, Sr. use of shadow very well with this black and white film. He went on to also win the Oscar for this cinematography for this picture. The DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0 Mono works perfect for the film. It is clear and sharp and sounds amazing with the score by Herbert Stothart.

The special features are decent as well (even thought they were taken from Warner’s 2008 DVD release). There is a commentary track with Angela Lansbury and Film Historian Steve Haberman, which is very informative and entertaining. Also included is the Oscar-winning short”Stairway to Light”, the Tom and Jerry cartoon, “Quiet Please!”, which also won the Oscar for Best Short Subject, Cartoons, for 1945 and a Theatrical Trailer rounds out the extras.

Linda Gray & Josh Henderson gives a sneak into TNT’s “Dallas”

This summer TNT is reinventing the classic TV series “Dallas” and bringing back to TV. It is bringing a mix of original and new characters. Linda Gray is returning to her role, along with new co-star Josh Henderson. “Dallas” premiers Wednesday, June 13th at 9:00 p.m. Eastern on TNT. Media Mikes had a chance to ask them a few questions about what we can expect from the new 2012 “Dallas”.

Mike Smith: How do you feel that the new series is different from the old one? And in what ways is it the same?
Linda Gray: It took a diamond and polished it. What can I say? It’s magic. It was magic in 1978 and it’s got a little 2012 fairy dust sprinkled on it. It’s just wonderful.

MS: Josh, were you familiar with the original show?
Josh Henderson: I was, yes. I’m originally from Dallas, Texas. I was born there, so with my family it was a very kind of popular thing. My me maw – my grandmother, “Dallas” was her favorite show and she kind of always said, being from Dallas, Texas you go to church and you watch “Dallas”. That’s kind of what you do out there. So it was definitely something that I knew of. I was a little too young to remember actual details of the show, but I definitely knew of how big of a deal it was as a child.

MS: Linda, what are some of the story lines that you can tease this season?
LG: Well, the original show took place when our children, Christopher and John Ross were very young. Now it is the perfect timing. I’m always about timing. I think “Dallas” originally started at perfect timing in history, and how its now perfect timing again when both Christopher and John Ross are grown-ups. They each have their own values and the focus is on where they want to go with their lives, and with whom. So it’s focuses on a rivalry, and this competition. And there’s all these wonderful things that one would expect from the show. There’s a love triangle, so it takes all of the things that were with the original show and it just kind of amps it up. There’s a little cayenne pepper thrown in here. So we’re just taking what it was and amping it up a little bit. A lot.

MS: Linda, what was it like coming back with this character for you personally?
LG: It gets better and better and better every year. You know, we started out, we all had families and on the show there were deaths and divorces, and births, and all kinds of wonderful things that happen in normal families, but this was our Dallas family. And now we’re grandparents, all of us, and we were about five years old, the three of us. So we hang out, we laugh and we love. I don’t know exactly what happens here to make this show absolutely magical, and I think it is. I use the word seamless, because it seemed as if we had shot this about a month ago. And nothing was different. Dallas, the city had changed, and grown and become more art conscious. They have a beautiful art section. And everything about it is enhanced. So, we’re just quite pleased about the way it all came about.

MS: Josh, your character seems to have a lot of his daddy in him, as it were. On kind of a cross, back-stabbing, and plans on top of plans, and comes with a lot of layers, can you reflect?
JH: Well, John Ross is really trying. I think he’s at a pivotal moment in his life where he’s trying to really make his presence known as a businessman. He only knows one way to do business, and that’s kind of how he’s seen his father do business. And it might not be in everyone’s mind the best way, but in his mind it’s the only way, and he knows that it gets stuff done. So he kind of learned from, in his mind, the best and at the end of the day he doesn’t have a great relationship at this point with either of his parents. So he kind of feels like he’s on his own, and I know that he at some point would love to be able to confide with his mother, but he just doesn’t really – he’s not comfortable with that as of right now where he’s at. He’s really kind of trying to do things on his own and put his foot down and kind of put his footprint in, I guess, in this whole Ewing legacy. And so it’s – he definitely is somewhat like his father and, you know, I know his mother is now at the point where she’s kind of trying to give him some advice and hoping that he’ll listen, I guess.

MS: Can you tell us how has Southfork changed over the years?
LG: Well, I think it’s become a big business in how – I mean, every tourist who’s ever come to Texas wants to go to Southfork. I think it’s their number two tourist attraction. So it’s very interesting to drive down that driveway at Southfork, because it brought back so many memories — so many years spent there. And it’s still small. People are always surprised at how small it is. But then on film, they made it look so big and expansive. And it’s just, you play the theme song and that’s a character. You look at Southfork — that’s another character. So those were all the characters that embraced the whole series. So they give you what you had before and it’s just a bit enhanced.

MS: Josh, did you get any tips from Larry on how to play more of the dastardly side of John Ross?
JH: You know, the first thing he ever said to me when we were on set was, “Enjoy the ride.” He literally just said, “Have fun. Enjoy the ride.” I mean, I think with this show, “Dallas” does bring a whole new ride to your life and I think what made the original so special was that they, you know, Larry, Linda, Patrick — the original cast — they truly had fun and they really like each other. I think that when that happens, you can trust your coworker or the actor that you’re with in the scene more, meaning that you can go deeper with the characters to make a better TV show. So he really just said, “Enjoy the ride,” and they have embraced the new generation unbelievably. Like, they just made us feel so comfortable from day one. I guess they had a lot of trust and faith in us as kind of the new generation. And us being so comfortable really, I think, helped the entire dynamic of the show and the character relationships and everything else.

MS: This show really has the potential of hitting both audiences of the original and brand new people who have never seen it before. What would you say that this show has to offer for both sets of people?
LG: I think that it will bring our global audience to the new show. There’ll be kind of a lock that one. And then what will bring them to the new part is that they’ll see the extended family. They’ll see our children grown up, they’ll see their focus in life, they’ll see which business they have decided to go into, they’ll see a love triangle. So it’s the expansion of the original show. It still has the same family, but the family’s grown and it’s expanded. And there’s still the same rivalry and greed and all this craziness that went on in the first series. It will continue, so I think that you’re in for a great ride.
JH: Yes. I think like Linda said, it’s everything about the original that made the original so great and so kind of, you know, magnetizing that people had to run back to the TV every week. They really kind of did well of transcending that into the new generation of Dallas. And I think for me and the cast, our main goal is to satisfy the original fans of the show, give them what they want, give them what they’ve been missing for 21 years. The show, I believe, speaks for itself. So the new audience, hopefully some of the younger generation can bring in some the new kind of younger people. I think as long as they give us a shot, they’ll truly, really enjoy the show. What’s great about this one is that you don’t even have to have ever seen the original to really be able to hop on board with these storylines. That’s how good the show is.

MS: What do you think it is about Dallas that really resonates with fans?
LG: That’s a question that’s really hard to answer. I don’t really know. I think that when it first began, there were a lot of people that didn’t know quite what it was — was it a nighttime soap opera? — what was it? And I think that it was all about timing. I’ve always go back to that. In television historically, there’s always been shows that were perfectly timed. “I Love Lucy” was at a perfect time, there were a lot of doctor shows, now there’s a lot of reality shows. And I think that in 1978 it was a perfect time for something bigger than life. People wanted to see something big, like oil like the movie “Giant”. They wanted to see something big. They wanted to see people with money, they wanted oil and big shoulder pads and cars and all that stuff. And they wanted to see family dynamics. So I think that the original fans were connected to what happens when you have all that money and you have all these problems. It’s dysfunction at its’ finest, so I think people were initially drawn to all of that. And they saw it in maybe themselves or a boss or somebody in business. They saw the business dealings of J.R. Ewing, which attracted a lot of the men to the show, so they thought, “Wow, look at this guy. He’s a bad guy and we like him,” right? So that was sort of confusing at first to people. It’s like, “Wow, we really like that guy. He’s really doing all these ridiculous things.” And then they loved the way that he treated his wife, because then they could feel sorry for Sue Ellen and then be beating up on him. It was quite, then the intrigue started and then it’s the whole water cooler thing was, you know, it was all – it was all about the water cooler and people were talking about it the next day. There was a ground swell that happened and it just built and built and built so that it was then it just a magnet so it attracted everybody. This is just a continuation of all the people that had all of those things fulfilled. Again, to me it’s all about timing. It’s another perfect time.

The Marshall Tucker Band’s Doug Gray talks about New Album and Touring

Doug Gray is the Founder and Lead Singer of The Marshall Tucker Band.  He has been with the band for 40 years now and shows no sign of slowing down.  He recently released a solo album of lost recordings called “Soul Of The South”.  The Marshall Band will be appearing in Orlando, FL at the Orlando Jai-Alai Fronton on Friday April 13th, click here for more info on that show. Doug took out some time to chat with Media Mikes about the new album, touring and what else the band has planned next.

Mike Gencarelli: Tell us about your new album “Soul Of The South”?
Doug Gray: This was a record that never had a name and was never going to be released. I started recording it within a year after Tommy (Caldwell) had gotten killed, our bass player, so around 1981. I wanted to go to Nashville and pick some songs out.  I had wanted to do something more rhythm and blues, since I grew up singing rhythm and blues.  I found a Michael Bolton song that he had written but never release, as well as a bunch of different songs. I thought it would be fun to do if not to keep my mind off things. I ended up with the Memphis Horns on there and a lot of other players from Nashville and also other rock ‘n roll bands.  Once we made a cassette of it…we never listened to it for about 28 years. After that time, one of the partners for the record label got a copy of the cassette and said we should pull try and pull some of these tracks out and release them.  So we put it out and people really seem to like it. It was just another experiment and so far it’s paid off.

MG: What do you like most about touring today?
DG: You know what, people that left us after the first five years came back in 20 years and said “Man, you are as good as you ever were”.  20 years later, you get parents that come with their kids.  Now I am even seeing pregnant women and I know there is going to be another generation of fans.  I think that is cool as can be.  The music is good and that is what it is. We just love going out their and sharing it with our fans. As long as the fans come, we will still get up there on the stage.

MG: I know the fans have their favorites songs but what are yours to perform?
DG: Well I think “Take the Highway” is one of the first original rockers. You go back and listen to it today and it sounds better now than it did on the record. The good part is that we actually are playing it better.  We did it as good as we could back then but we updated it as time went along.  We play it faster.  It wears me out singing it and it is just intense. Just so fantastic and it only gets better and better.

MG: Do you feel that The Marshall Tucker Band as evolved from when you started?
DG: We had no choice.  A lot of the times, guys get older and they don’t want to be on the road. Toy (Caldwell) himself told me, before he passed, he said “I am glad you got it, your the one that will keep it going”.  We don’t sell anything compared to people that walk around with submarines on their head [laughs].  But we are continuously selling CDs and digital downloads. We have opportunity for the next five years to be with Sony Distribution.  They see it just like the public sees it.  Am I proud that I stuck with it and do I believe in all the people I brought in this thing? You better bet your butt I do!  Everyone plays and everyone is a part of it.  That is what is important!

MG: I am a big Lynyrd Skynyrd and Zac Brown Band fan, would love to see you guys tour together in the future.
DG: We do stuff with Skynyrd all the time.  As far as Zac Brown goes, we do have a gig coming up with them.  Somehow Marshall Tucker always seems to get incorporated in the mix.  As far as big group shows, I would love to go to Philadelphia at the JFK Stadium and have 120,000 people there with us.

MG: What can we expect from 2012?
DG: Oh man.  December the 21st, we will be waiting to be lifted up into the sky with this Mayan calender thing.  We will probably be on the tour bus and no better way to go if you gotta go.  We are going out there and got a lot of concerts and festivals upcoming.  I love doing the festivals, whether we are playing for 4,000 people or 200 people it doesn’t matter. As long people show up they are going to be treated to some of the best music they have heard in a week.

MG: Tell us about next year’s Rock Legends II cruise?
DG: It is going to be cool, man.  It is from January 10-15th, 2013. The most important thing is that Paul Rodgers is now on the roster, he is such an amazing singer.  The Foreigner guys are gonna be there. Hatchet is on there with us.  We are just so excited for this.  There is going be some amazing four-hour jams on this cruise.  I have already spoke Rodgers and plenty of other guys.  I don’t have to even ask Hatchet or .38 Special because they can’t keep their asses off the Marshall Tucker stage [laughs]. We just jam and it is going to be fantastic.