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Dr. Jekyll believes good and evil exist in everyone. Experiments reveal his evil side, named Hyde. Experience teaches him how evil Hyde can be: he kills Ivy who earlier expressed interest in Jekyll and Sir Charles, Jekyll's faincee's father. Written by
Ed Stephan <email@example.com>
Spencer Tracy's performance as Hyde was judged by the critics in 1941 to be inadequate, principally because he was not frightening enough. In addition, Tracy was considered "too American" and too "rough" to be believable as an upper-class doctor in Victorian London. He later received an amusing telegram from Fredric March, the star of the 1931 version, who said that his earlier performance as Hyde was always compared favorably with Tracy's. After watching the film, Tracy confided to his friend Ralph Bellamy that he believed his Hollywood career was over. See more »
In the scene where Hyde visits Ivy, he is sitting in a chair eating some grapes. In closeup he can be seen putting the last grape into his mouth with his right hand; but in the next medium shot, showing Hyde in the foreground and Ivy in the background, he is feeding himself with his left hand. See more »
It was probably too soon for Spencer Tracy to have tried a remake of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. Ten years was not long enough for people to forget Fredric March's Oscar winning performance from the Paramount classic of 1931. This version of the Robert Louis Stevenson horror novel drew for Tracy some of the few bad reviews he ever got as a player because it was too soon. Time has been good to this film and we can see the differences in interpretation.
The Jekyll character that Tracy creates is a soft spoken guy, a lot like Father Flannagan. He's a medical doctor, more interested in research than in a practice. Before Sigmund Freud ever coined the terms ego and id to describe man's duel nature of good and evil, Stevenson had those same notions about man's behavior and incorporated them in his novel.
The Hyde character was a bold experiment. Tracy was probably the player in Hollywood who disliked makeup the most. Yet for this film and for few others, he allowed himself to be made up ever so slightly to suggest the evil Hyde. It was a far cry from the simian appearance of Fredric March's Hyde and Tracy got criticized for it. Retrospectives now are kinder to him and his method of interpretation.
Stepping into the female roles played by Rose Hobart and Miriam Hopkins in the March version are Lana Turner and Ingrid Bergman. Lana Turner although later she played quite a few sexpots was at this stage of her career playing very winsome proper young ladies and not doing a bad job of it.
Ingrid Bergman plays Champagne Ivy, probably one of the most luckless characters in fiction. Ivy was not in the original novel, she was in the play that was adapted from the Stevenson novel and she's come down to us ever since. This poor girl, no better than she ought to be meets Tracy as Jekyll and he's attracted, but engaged to Turner. When he becomes Hyde, the beast within him remembers and stalks Bergman mercilessly ending in tragedy all around.
Besides March and Tracy other actors who've tried this most difficult of parts are John Barrymore, Jack Palance, and Kirk Douglas. Only the best can and are willing to tackle Jekyll and Hyde. And there ain't no doubt that Tracy is one of the best.
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