Based on the story by Robert Louis Stevenson, Dr. Henry Jekyll believes that there are two distinct sides to men - a good and an evil side. He believes that by separating the two man can become liberated. He succeeds in his experiments with chemicals to accomplish this and transforms into Hyde to commit horrendous crimes. When he discontinues use of the drug it is already too late... Written by
Mark J. Popp <firstname.lastname@example.org>
What happened to movies in the late 30's and early 40's? Why did they become so stale and stagey? "Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde" would be considered downright antique to many of today's casual filmgoers, but it feels so much more dynamic technically and thematically than many films that came out later in its decade. The answer, of course, is that this movie came out before enforcement of the Production Code, at which time artistry in films--both style and substance--took a nose dive.
This film is worth watching for its stunning camera work alone. It doesn't suffer from any of the awkwardness other films working in the early years of sound do. The camera's always moving, there's terrific use of light and shadow, and the scenes showing the transformation of Jekyll to Hyde are seamlessly filmed in what appear to be uninterrupted shots, leaving you to ponder the sheer physical behind-the-scenes mechanics of them.
But this movie isn't just more technically advanced than films later in the decade; it's more adult in content too. No filming of this story ten years later (I've not seen the Victor Fleming version for comparison) would dare add the level of sexuality that this story does. Fredric March is very good in the dual role, and when he transforms into Mr. Hyde, you can see that it's everything within his power not to rip the dress right off whatever female he happens to be with and mount her right there. I'm not exaggerating; the film is really that frank.
Creepy good fun.
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