Dr. Jekyll & Mr. Hyde
John Lee Mahin (Novel: Robert Louis Stevenson)
Spencer Tracy, Ingrid Bergman, Lana Turner, Donald Crisp, Ian Hunter, Barton MacLane, C. Aubrey Smith, Peter Godfrey, Sara Allgood, Frederic Worlock
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One of many remakes of the classic Robert Louis Stevenson novel, this 1941 edition has a star-studded cast, but lacks magic or inspiration and that’s partly because all of the inventiveness was claimed in the 1932 version.
Spencer Tracy takes on the role of noble scientist Henry Jekyll who believes that there is a trigger in the human mind that changes a man from good to evil. Along with that theory comes research trying to prove that he can separate and tame the beasts. However, as we all know, his attempts only manage to sever his own psyche and he creates his monstrous alternate personality Mr. Hyde. Ingrid Bergman plays the prostitute whom Hyde takes an interest in while Lana Turner takes on the role of the woman Dr. Jekyll is intent on marrying. Donald Crisp plays her father and Ian Hunter play’s Henry’s medical associate and friend. C. Aubrey Smith and Sara Allgood also appear.
The film lacks imagination. It has no spark. The early makeup for Mr. Hyde is barely adequate and the latter transformers pale in comparison to Mamoulian’s. The film acts as a terrific precursor of all the lame-brained Hollywood attempts to recreate the magic and mystique of classics in an effort to bring in new audiences. 70 years later, the same thing is still happening, and there’s no reason to believe it will ever stop.
Bergman is the only person watchable in this film. Her terrified woman of the night predates her effortless work in Gaslight and remains inferior to it. Tracy doesn’t fit the role very well and his Hyde doesn’t build much on Frederic March’s effortless portrayal nine years earlier.
January 3, 2011