Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde Reviews
Dr. Jekyll is fascinated by good and evil in people and he believes he is capable of separating the two. He believes he has discovered a potion to separate the two but can't gain the funding to test it on humans. He decides to test the potion on himself and unlocks his inner evil, Mr. Hyde. Once out, will Dr. Jekyll ever be able to get Mr. Hyde under control?
"The world is yours, my darling. The moment is mine."
Victor Fleming, director of Gone with the Wind, The Wizard of Oz, Red Dust, A Guy Named Joe, Treasure Island, The Awakening, and Mama's Affair, delivers Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. The storyline for this picture included more of a love interest than I had remembered. The action was okay and the acting was solid. The cast includes Spencer Tracy, Ingrid Bergman, Lana Turner, and Donald Crisp.
"We doctors can't experiment on human beings."
I caught this film when a recent Spencer Tracy marathon aired on Turner Classic Movies (TCM)and I decided I had to watch this horror classic. I will say this wasn't quite as good as I hoped and was a bit boring in spots but the story of the female character was fascinating. I don't particularly recommend this old school classic.
"The bull is leaving the china shop."
Fair, but Hollywoodized version of the Robert Lewis Stevenson classic novel. Spencer Tracy makes the film as good as it is. The added female characters feel tacked on mostly by obligation to the studio.
Tracy is the doctor who finds his evil side. He terrorizes the streets of London and then turns back into his good self.
John Barrymore makes a good Jekyll, I think the best of the lot for all Fredric March's Oscar for the role. I also think the first adaptation was the closest, for all there's the superfluous fiancee. At least they didn't try to throw in a superfluous music hall girl as a love interest for Hyde. Hyde, I think, would not have a kept woman; Hyde would not feel any particular attachment to any particular woman. Still, at least all three seem to have gotten the idea that Hyde doesn't have to be [i]too[/i] over-the-top. The March version is pretty interesting from a makeup perspective; they made him look rather like our idea of a Neanderthal, as though Hyde is less evolved than Jekyll.
Famously, this is the novel that Stevenson wrote in a fury, that so scared his wife that he burned the manuscript--and the story consumed him so that he rewrote it almost as quickly as he'd written it in the first place. While I'm not particularly frightened by the novel, it's eerier than all the movie versions I've seen so far. (Yes, there are more. There are dozens.) The original Dr. Jekyll is more distant. The original Mr. Hyde is more menacing. The [i]contrast[/i] between the two men is heightened, despite the addition of the girl. Maybe because of it; it's hard to say in retrospect. But in the book, Jekyll is all intellect and Hyde is all emotion. I think that makes a difference.
I'm not sure that there will be a proper adaptation even if I watched all two dozen, a thing I cannot face even if the library made it possible. The thing is, neither side of this famous character is particularly likable. It's hard to appreciate the good of such a cold character as Dr. Jekyll, and it's easy to note his hypocrisy. He [i]wants[/i] to be all good, but he also wants to let out his Dionysian side. So he takes the potion, and he lets loose Hyde. He gives up quite a lot for the pleasure of being the darker Hyde. Not a fiancee, blessedly--she's such a burden to the story--but his better work, and worse, his better self. As for Hyde, he is evil. There is no other word that describes him so clearly.
Maybe it's that three in two days was a little much. Maybe I'm right, however, and none of them are all that good. The most interesting thing in the series of films is that, in the Barrymore, most of the cast is credited on their first appearance. It's an interesting way of doing things, but I don't think it would work now that the age of title cards is over.