In France, an insane surgeon's obsession with an actress from England leads him to replace her pianist husband's hands that got mangled in an accident with the hands of a late knife murderer which still have the urge to throw knives.
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>
There have been more than 40 versions of Stevenson's classic tale but the one that eclipses them all for ingenuity is Dr Pyckle and Mr Pride (1925) a two reeler in which Stan Laurel creates a brilliant parody of John Barrymore's 1920 performance. See more »
When Hyde first meets Ivy, he tells her he knows she lives in some pig sty on Baptin's Court. But later, a news item about Ivy identifies her address as Diadem Court. (The closed-captioning in the first scene actually reads "Diadem Court" despite what Hyde is heard saying.) See more »
I shall not dwell today on the secrets of the human body, in sickness and in health. Today I want to talk to you of a greater marvel: the soul of man!
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Originally released at 97 minutes. Later reissues are taken from a shortened 82-minutes print. Deletions include:
A 3.5 minute segment immediately following the opening credits. This is filmed in first person, and shows Jekyll playing the organ and getting ready for his lecture.
Jekyll helping a young girl to learn to walk in the free ward. This 1 minute scene precedes the scene with the sick woman in bed.
After his first transformation, Jekyll does not go immediately to the pub as in the cut version. Instead, Poole comes to the laboratory, and Jekyll takes the antidote and then lets him in. Jekyll then visits Muriel and learns that she is going away on a trip. Jekyll is preoccupied with her absence. When he learns she will be away another month, Poole suggests he go out. Jekyll knows a man of his position cannot be seen in the establishments of the lower classes, so he decides to take the potion again. Another on screen transformation occurs, this time while he is seated in a chair. He then leaves for the pub at which Ivy is singing. This sequence lasts 6.5 minutes.
Just before Jekyll's transformation in the park, the restored scene reveals the reason for his transformation without taking the potion. He sees a bird being killed by a cat up in a tree. The traces of the drug in him, combined with the witnessing of this violent act, is enough to trigger the transformation, which he now has no control over. This restored cut lasts 45 seconds.
The last restored scene is when Jekyll visits Muriel to "set her free". This adds additional details as to the torment Jekyll is going through, and confusion of Muriel as to what is troubling Jekyll.
It's amazing that years before Sigmund Freud was writing about stuff like the ego and the id, Robert Louis Stevenson, a great writer, but not a man of science, was able to grasp at what Freud later said about human behavior. There lurks in all of us a beast capable of doing great evil, that man's civilized self is forever trying to control.
Henry Jekyll, London society doctor, is engaging in experiments to prove that theory. He's a gentleman in every sense of the word, engaged to a proper English girl played by Rose Hobart here. It's funny, but in none of the adaptions of this story is it ever explained what could be in the potion that Jekyll concocts and drinks. But drink it he does and Jekyll becomes the simian like Mr. Hyde, evil incarnate itself.
Another reviewer pointed out the film is actually based on a play adapted from the novel and done originally on stage by Richard Mansfield in London. In that play the character of Ivy, a girl no better than she ought to be attracts the attention of Jekyll when he stops a man from assaulting her. He takes her up to her flat and she makes an effort to seduce him. He resists, but the beast within remembers.
This film becomes one of the first to deal with the phenomenon of stalking. Miriam Hopkins is a comely Ivy and Ivy herself is one of the most luckless characters ever created in fiction whether she was in the original story or not.
Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde made movie audiences and critics start to take Fredric March seriously as actor. Up to then he had played a variety of lightweight parts on screen. Even so Paramount after this still insisted on still casting him in those roles after he won an Academy Award for Best Actor. When he got free of that studio contract March got the parts he was so capable of.
When MGM wanted to remake the film for Spencer Tracy they bought not just the rights from Paramount, but the film itself. It was not seen for many years and the VHS version I have of it has an MGM opening logo, but the cast at the end says Paramount. Kind of unusual to say the least.
I do disagree with the application of the term science fiction to this story. Hyde is a beast. But he's not something created by nature or man, nor is he an alien from another world. We all have a Hyde within us, it's how well we control him in our selves, and how well as a society we control the Hydes that would do us harm that deems whether we survive as a society or not.
Hyde is very human, with no superhuman powers and no created weaponry. Takes an extraordinary actor to play Jekyll and Hyde and do it well. Only the best take a crack at it like John Barrymore, Spencer Tracy, Jack Palance, and Kirk Douglas. And March is one of the very best. See for yourself.
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