The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde (1968 TV Movie)
User ReviewsAdd a Review
I just remember it was an outstanding production with full credit going to Palance in the lead role.
then last week eureka!! I found the DVD in a 2nd hand shop and snatched it up right away.
the devilishness and morphing from Jekyll to Hyde was incredible. it won a batch of Emmy's and its no wonder. Jack Palance was a very gifted actor and had a certain honesty about him, a dedication to his craft that goes beyond the adulation and wealth other hollywooden types seek.
and that thing about push ups at the Oscars will go down in the history of entertainment. very inspirational too, a man in his 80s doing 1 arm push ups on live TV !! thank you Mr Palance for many years of tremendous entertainment and this is certainly among them. if you have a chance to see this film do so.
One problem with this and all other versions of the story I have seen is that they have the same actor play both Dr. Jekyll AND Mr. Hyde. I say this is a mistake because in Robert Louis Stevenson's novel, the reason why folks could not believe the two men were one was that Hyde was SIGNIFICANTLY shorter than the doctor. In other words, films only use a bit of makeup to make the transformation and the two invariably look too similar to make the story very convincing.
Unlike the movie versions of the story made during the sound era, this one is unusual in that it jumps right into the action. Within a few minutes of the start of the film, Dr. Jekyll has already created his elixir to transform himself into a less restrained persona, Mr. Hyde. His motivations and good works he did before the transformation are really not explored in any depth like other films. I don't think this is a bad thing--just different.
Another thing that was a bit different is that this version is quite a bit more violent than other versions (such as the Frederic March and Spencer Tracy films). Hyde stabs and beats a lot of folks for kicks and seems more nasty than usual. Again, not a bad thing at all--just different. Plus, the awfulness of Hyde is well in keeping with the spirit of the novel.
I think the thing that surprised me the most is that Jack Palance was quite good. He was intense as Hyde and quite restrained as Jekyll. The film also looked exceptional. In particular, the streets of London were quite striking as were the costumes. They got the look down quite well--far better than you'd expect for a made for TV production. As a result, it's about as good a version as you can find--though, as I pointed out above, it sure would be nice to see a version closer to the book in regard to how Hyde looked.
The makeup for Hyde is not drastically different from Palance's own appearance; he is ugly but not hideous. In fact, he looks, dresses, and behaves like a womanizing Cary Grant on a drunken rampage. He has fun drinking and whoring and giving everyone something to talk about later, but then he begins to take over Jekyll's personality. Denholm Elliot is Devlin, Jekyll's friend and "savior".
I've only seen the Barrymore version in comparison. Barrymore is a much more monstrous Hyde, but both versions are excellent.
As an adaptation, The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde may not be word for word, detail for detail to the Stevenson classic with a few changes and additions but actually all the major details are intact and so is the spirit of the story, and it does this more successfully than any of the other versions. The idea of Dr Jekyll being responsible for the crimes due to Hyde not being a whole person, as heard in Devlin's line "You don't understand, do you? Jekyll deserves to die - he's the one who's responsible, not you", was an interesting angle and came off very well, plus it was entirely plausible. The dialogue is very thoughtfully adapted and is well-written dialogue judging it on its own. The story is very suspenseful, the scariest parts actually being genuinely so, and entertaining at all times, especially with any scene with Mr. Hyde, it was good also that it got straight to the point instead of being bogged down by filler, even more remarkable is that it managed to be loyal to such a timeless and well-known story and make it feel fresh.
It is more violent than the other Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde adaptations, but not in a gratuitous way. Curtis' direction is as solid as rocks, and the characters carry the narrative beautifully, the most interesting of course is Jekyll/Hyde but the other characters are hardly given short shrift, Devlin actually is just as much and has some of the adaptation's most memorable lines. The performances from all are terrific, the best in support being a sensual Billie Whitelaw and Denholm Elliot in one of his more sympathetic performances. But it is Jack Palance who walks away with the acting honours, as he rightfully should, managing to make Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde completely different from one another without making Jekyll too mannered or dull or Hyde too over-the-top or completely brutish, both of which is what makes this iconic dual role tricky. He does superbly as both Jekyll and Hyde, loved the refinement and nobility he brought to Jekyll, possibly Palance at his most restrained, but he is even better as Hyde, as well as being one of the most physical and brutal in the role he is also the one that comes off the most genuinely scary and passionate, he hams it up just a tad but actually in this case that was what made the performance fun to watch. Overall, a brilliantly done version of a classic and the best version seen so far. 10/10 Bethany Cox
The story is very well-known, a scientist splits his personalities and creates an inhuman tyrannical demon that destroys the lives of both of them as well as many others. Only in the book Jekyll invented the drug because he thought that as every man had only one life and two sides, it is impossible to leave a life that satisfies the urges of both of these sides. So he splits them and tries to lead to separate lives, each undisturbed by the other, though of course he fails. Here it is merely out of reckless curiosity, he does something purely because he can without stopping to think if he should.
It also suggests the idea that Dr Jekyll is responsible for Hyde's murders, not Hyde. This is because Hyde isn't a whole person, therefore he can't be judged as a real person or held responsible for his actions. Hyde is the dark side of Jekyll, and nothing about Hyde wasn't already inside the doctor. Jekyll should never have empowered him and let him run loose. I would agree with this.
A brilliant display of fine performances and dialogue, as well as some very interesting imagery, Dan Curtis' adaptation is a delight.
In particular, Jack Palance is extraordinary in both roles. Showing us carelessness and selfishness and in the end fear and desperation in Jekyll as well as impulsiveness, anger and just pure evil in Hyde.
Outstanding! Particularly towards the end.
Palance evokes sympathy as the doctor, and his Hyde was (and is) pure evil. In two scenes (the beating of Lanyon and the murder of Gwen), Hyde is brutal, uncompromising and without remorse. Billie Whitelaw (Gwen) is a wonderful and under-rated actress. I was really pleased (after several years of not seeing her in anything else) to see her in THE OMEN.
Of the classic horror tales that Dan Curtis adapted over the years, this is the best. It compares favorably with the Frederic March version (the only other version I enjoy), it is superior to MGM's glossy Spencer Tracy version, and it makes the musical version (with Kirk Douglas as the doctor) look like the joke that it was.
Rent it and enjoy!