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I realise that my one-line summary is faint praise indeed but it does reflect the quality of this film. Overall it's at best, a slightly below average story but, it does indeed get better and picks up the pace in the last one/third of the film. The black and white photography of this period piece is done very well with the street sets looking very authentic. Louis Hayward does his usual competent job and is assisted especially well by Alexander Knox and Rhys Williams. Jody Lawrence is pretty to look at but her character adds very little to the story. The identity of the real killer is divulged rather early so this film is not a whodunnit. If you start watching this movie and find yourself starting to get bored, try to stay with it for a while longer. You will eventually be rewarded with about 30 minutes of good action.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
What a lovely movie to look at. Wonderful costumes and sets make this
movie a real treat to the eye. Some of the best I've seen in a period
horror film. The acting is also quite good. It's just too bad that this
is all The Son of Dr. Jekyll has to offer.
It's easy to see why this film was titled The Son of Dr. Jekyll and not The Son of Mr. Hyde. Other than the opening scene where Hyde (I'm not entirely sure it was Hyde) has about five minutes of screen time, we see him for less than 10 seconds in the rest of the film. Very disappointing. Without Hyde, Dr. Jekyll has a tough time carrying a movie by himself.
The movie is really more of a crime mystery than a horror regardless of how it is listed on IMDb. The "son" spends the majority of the movie tying to figure out who is framing him as mad killer. While it is a decent enough idea for a movie, the killer's true identity is given away so early that there are few dramatic or tense moments later on.
This movie had all the promise of being a good, old fashioned thriller,
but unfortunately, the premise was wasted.
Louis Hayward plays Edward Jekyll, the son of the late Dr. Jekyll/Mr. Hyde. Most of his time on the screen is spent trying to prove that his father was not the crazed killer, Dr. Hyde, but instead just the brilliant but misunderstood Dr. Jekyll.
This movie was billed as a horror movie, but there is no horror. There are just a few very brief glimpses of the mad Mr. Hyde. This movie had good actors and it could have been so much more had they spent more time with the scary element of the Jekyll and Hyde story. By the end I was just bored with the whole thing.
I thought Edward Ulmer's 1957 movie entitled "The Daughter of Dr. Jekyll", starring Gloria Talbot and John Agar, was a much better film. Even though it was cheesy in parts, it was not boring. This one will put you to sleep.
MORD39 RATING: * out of ****
Get your pillow ready for this sure-fire cure for insomnia. Mr. Hyde is nowhere to be found in this dull and tiresome dud that features Louis Hayward as the son of the infamous doctor trying to find out what his old man was up to in that laboratory.
Interest wanes almost immediately as we wait for some kind of attempt at action to develop. It takes a very long time for this possibility to gain ground, but by that time it's too late for those who are still conscious.
As stated, Mr. Hyde is practically a no-show. I don't blame him for not sticking around.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
This film starts with a prologue that contradicts the previous Dr.
Jekyll movies as well as Robert Louis Stevenson's novel. It this
incarnation of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, the Doctor was married (he was
engaged in the other films) and had a baby boy. After the Doc is killed
by an enraged crowd, one of Jekyll's friends takes the tyke home to
raise it as its own.
The film now jumps forward many years. Jekyll's son is also experimenting on weird stuff and is possibly going to be dismissed from the local university. He also is almost of age--and about to inherit his father's estate (which, incidentally, sure appeared to be burned down as the film began).
For much of the film, the press hounds the now adult son of Jekyll. In order to sell papers, they set up young Jekyll several times--making him look like a maniac. After a while, so much hysteria is created that his safety is a serious concern. Also of concern, however, is that Junior is a bit daft...as he begins trying to replicate Dad's work!! So, on one hand you feel sorry for him because the papers are often breaking the law in order to get a story. The things they do are amazingly sleazy and sick. But on the other, young Jekyll does appear to be a nutter! In the meantime, violent assaults begin to occur and Jekyll is blamed for them--especially because they seem to occur just when he COULD have done it. However, the viewer can see that it is NOT Jekyll doing this but a mysterious stranger. Who this is and why is something you'll just need to see for yourself. However, if you are looking for a monster film, you may be disappointed as the film really is more of a mystery movie. While no doubt this happened to some in the audience, I was happy to see it because at least it didn't make the film a predictable by-the-numbers film.
Overall, it's better than the current IMDb score of 4.1, as this would indicate that this is a very poor movie--and it certainly is not. Decent acting and an unusual script make this worth a look. My only reservation about the film is that they really did not need have Jekyll Junior do any sort of experiments, as this did seem to cloud the issue a bit. Otherwise, a very good film.
Now that I think about it, the plot of this film is a lot like PSYCHO II, as most of the film consists of a person trying to convince Norman that he is NOT cured (though I was NOT a fan of PSYCHO II because of its convoluted ending).
Son of Dr. Jekyll, The (1951)
* 1/2 (out of 4)
Dr. Jekyll's son (Louis Hayward) goes back to the laboratory to try and prove his father wasn't a monster. This film actually gets off to a pretty good start but things quickly fall apart making this a rather poor film in the end. The performances from everyone in the cast are actually pretty good, which is shocking for this type of film. The first transformation scene is also very well effective but after this there isn't much here. The film seems to think that the viewers didn't want to see a monster but instead sit around and listen to bad dialogue. There's way too much talk going on in this film and this here makes it quite boring.
Rather than following in father's footsteps, this (obviously lookalike) progeny takes it upon himself to clear the old family name but is misunderstood at every turn. Ponderous offshoot of a well-worn formula (pardon the pun), acted for more than its worth; nowhere near as wacky as Edgar G. Ulmer's DAUGHTER OF DR. JEKYLL (1957), but just as watchable under the circumstances. Indeed, the fanciful kinsmen of famous literary monsters were a staple from the 1930s onwards and, while some of the end results were not only commendable but remarkable, it generally meant that the rot had set in that particular source and that exploitation film-makers were milking a catchpenny moniker for all it was worth. To spice things up a bit here, Louis Hayward (as the titular character) is brought up by Jekyll's attorney Utterson (Lester Matthews) as his own son and is only told of his heritage by Jekyll's duplicitous(!) colleague Dr. Lanyon (Alexander Knox) when he is here it comes again booted out of college for his unorthodox experiments! Familiar character actors Paul Cavanaugh and Rhys Williams as, respectively, the investigating Inspector and the proverbial butler also put in an appearance but have fairly little of note to do. Curiously enough, although Hayward does get to don the "Mr. Hyde" make-up in the film's prologue, the actual monster in the film proper is somebody else though contriving to expire in the exact same new way devised by the film-makers earlier on: falling to his death from a window ledge!!
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
The story starts out talking about Hyde as if he were a true monster
who had murdered his wife. It shows a furry-headed, heavy-browed Hyde
running into a house which is then set ablaze by a pursuing mob.
Jekyll, now looking like a normal human, steps out of an upper story
window and falls to his death.
But (SPOILER!) thirty years later, his old friend Dr. Lanyon is revealed to have falsified Jekyll's notes in a scheme to drive the Son of Dr. Jekyll mad, so Lanyon can steal the Jekyll estate...to replace his own fortune lost defending Jekyll Sr.
Aside from the moral backflips Lanyon has to perform to go from valiant friend to chiseler and murderer, the movie never comes clean about who Mr. Hyde was. In order to make young Jekyll look insane, Lanyon fakes those notes and swaps "Acrostyn" for another chemical, so that Jekyll Jr. turns hairy and fanged - then faints - in the movie's only transformation scene. It's an odd medical breakthrough for Lanyon to have gone broke defending.
Or is young Jekyll only hallucinating his transformation? Lanyon even boasts that he only needed mob hysteria to turn Edward Jekyll into a "monster." But a hallucination would be an even bigger cheat - because the audience sees an actual transformation after Edward is unconscious.
Then the closing crawl smugly notes that both Jekyll's original notes and Lanyon's forgery are archived at Scotland Yard as a solution to the Jekyll/Hyde myth. Huh?? When did it become a myth? Opening crawl, meet end credits! The movie does get props for reusing Mamoulian's color-filter trick for revealing painted makeup in stages from the Fredric March 1932 version (actually, first used to "cleanse the lepers" in DeMille's 1927 King of Kings.) And Holmes Herbert from that film shows up here as a policeman. Lester Matthews (the hero of "The Werewolf of London") plays lawyer Utterson, a character from Stevenson's novella usually omitted in screen adaptations. Alexander Knox, the model of rectitude as "Wilson", is wonderfully manipulative as Lanyon.
Apparently, the idea was to make a monster movie with a minimum of expensive makeup sessions, and the script seems to have had numerous contradictory revisions. The production values are fairly threadbare, not many steps up from a 3 Stooges short of the era; at one point, Jekyll's "1890" home is clearly a modern 1951 house with flagstone facing. But the studio cleverly reuses the big fire scene from the opening to close the picture with a bang.
But that bang is still not loud enough to make you forget all the illogical and dishonest tricks the story plays on the viewer.
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