Watching Roger Corman's "The Haunted Palace" on TCM a few days ago, I was struck by the painting at the film's center: A blue-tinged, distorted portrait of Vincent Price as Joseph Curwen, a warlock who was burned by the villagers he'd terrorized. When his distant relative (also played by Price) arrives to claim his inheritance of the abandoned mansion, he is immediately taken by the portrait, which is how his ancestor is able to possess him.
Much like the '70s series, "Night Gallery," a painting in a movie can be a presence all its own, whether of someone dead or living. Or it can be a pivotal plot point, as in the reveal at the end of "An Affair to Remember."
Hollywood loves portraying artists of all kinds: Kirk Douglas, Robert Mitchum, Humphrey Bogart, Joseph Cotten and Elsa Lanchester have all played painters at one point.
Among the cinematic portraits of famous actors on this list are Vivien Leigh in "Gone With the Wind," Gene Tierney in "Laura," Jennifer Jones in "Portrait of Jennie," and Barbara Stanwyck in "The Two Mrs. Carrolls."
The Scarlett O'Hara portrait has been displayed in public in Atlanta; wouldn't it be wonderful to be able to see all of these in person?