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>
Although the film was a huge success, it did not save Paramount from bankruptcy. See more »
The basis for Hyde's makeup was a skeleton found in the Neander valley in France, Shanidar 1. Unfortunately for Mr. March, this skeleton was that of an individual deformed by disease and with a hunched back, whose appearance set the type for Neanderthals for over 100 years. It was not until 1987 that the hunchback Neanderthal look was finally disproved once and for all. See more »
Not Quite the Book BUT Mesmerizing Performance by March and Innovative Direction/Camera
For all the existing film versions of Robert Louis Stevenson's "The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde" (1886), this 1931 Paramount offering starring the incomparable Frederic March is probably the best. None quite follow the original book, whose tale is actually told backwards in a way. The book does not follow a series of linear events that lead to the so-called "transformation". Instead, rumors of a strange man surface between two characters in the very opening. We learn about Hyde first before Jekyll, which is not the way any film adaptation has ever told the story.
Still, the present film has a lot going for it. At the forefront is Frederic March in the classic dual role of good and evil. When he first becomes Hyde, I thought another actor was playing the role, it's that good! Another distinctive aspect is the camera work which must have been extremely innovative for its time. The opening moments are shot with a first person perspective. The transformation is done relatively seamlessly considering CGI effects had yet to be invented. There are other moments of shadows and dark corridors. The atmospheric fog that permeates the entire film is worth the price of admission.
As stated by other reviewers, some of the dialog hearkens back to an earlier era of the Vaudeville Melodrama. Characters didn't just love each other, they loved each other for eternity! Still a fine film all things considered, dated perhaps in places, but still March's performance is unbeatable, and definitely deserved of the Academy Award for Best Actor.
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