Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde

The Robert Louis Stevenson story "Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde" has been adapted many times for the big screen. There were two silent versions, a 1947 Spencer Tracy version, and dozens more in the following decades, right up to the present day. It is the 1931 black and white version, directed by Rouben Mamoulian, that is recommended here.


The 1931 Rouben Mamoulian version, with Fredric March, was finally released on dvd in 2005 in its original form. Although framed by the limitations and style of the recently emerging sound techniques, Mamoulian lets the camera pull out some wonderful tricks that elevate the horror aspect -- Jekyll staring at the camera (mirror) as he changes into the hideous Hyde was excellently done. March put his soul into this film, and Hopkins was wonderful as the doomed trollop.

I find it completely enthralling, and way-more thrilling than Tracy's version of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde. Both March and Tracy would go on to win 2 best actor Oscars, with March winning one for his turn in this film.

While it has moments of stilted acting and stiff staging, the whole of the sum is greater than the minor faults.

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