Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde (1941) Poster

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Two great actors, one role
gayspiritwarrior2 July 2005
Warning: Spoilers
A close look at the credits for both films will show that the 1941 "Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde" is more than merely a remake of the 1931 version. The screenplay of the later film was literally based on that of the earlier, and there are scene-by-scene and, in places, word-for-word duplications. Both are excellent, with my own preference going to the 1941 and Spencer Tracy. His performance is amazing, and so subtle that it's frequently dismissed as inferior work. To the contrary, it's every bit worthy of an early graduate of the Actors Studio. Spoilers follow.

The highlight of the film is the astonishing scene when Jekyll first changes involuntarily into Hyde. He's walking the sidewalk in the fog, whistling a Strauss waltz he earlier danced with his fiancée, played well in a throwaway role by Lana Turner. Without meaning to his whistling changes to the polka sung by barmaid Ingrid Bergman, whose performance is nearly a match to Tracy's. He stops, a confused look on his face, then walks on whistling the waltz. Again it changes to the polka, and he stops again, wiping his brow, confusion again on his face. Now unsure, he starts to walk again, and can only whistle the first notes of the polka. He stumbles to a park bench and changes into Hyde. Hyde looks about and then hurries over to the barmaid's flat, where as Jekyll he's just told her Hyde will never come again. Ivy is celebrating with champagne. In a brilliant mirror-shot we see her look of horror as the door opens and Hyde enters. The rest of the scene is simply unforgettable, between the deranged Hyde and the terrified Ivy, realizing her fate is at hand.

There are nice directorial touches in both films, and both tell the story very well. Many will prefer the more straightforward, showier 1931 version. For myself the 1941 is supreme, with Tracy delivering one of the all-time great screen acting performances. 9/10.
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Tracy is a chilling Hyde...Bergman is brilliant...
Doylenf7 April 2002
For years I knew that Fredric March had won one of his Oscars for DR. JEKYLL AND MR. HYDE back in the '30s and always assumed that because of this his performance was superior to Spencer Tracy's.

But having just seen the Tracy-Bergman-Turner version, my opinion has changed. Whereas the make-up for March makes him look like a cheap monster in a Universal thriller and almost Simian, Tracy achieves a distinctly chilling effect simply through posture and facial expressions alone with a minimum of make-up. His first encounter with the barmaid Ivy (Ingrid Bergman) is beautifully done with both of them registering emotions as they play against each other--Tracy with a wicked gleam in his eye and Bergman trying to hide her fear. She creates a really sympathetic character, especially when she realizes the extent of her degradation. Her scenes with Tracy where he is sadistically taunting her remind one of the cat-and-mouse game she played with Charles Boyer in "Gaslight".

The B&W photography realistically captures Victorian London after dark with its swirling mists and street lamps. All of the performances are first rate except for an uncertain Lana Turner who has a pallid role and can do little with it.

The only flaws are the film's length--it takes too long to tell the tale with its long-winded speeches--and the leisurely pace under Victor Fleming's direction makes the horror more muted than it need be.
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A Bold Experiment
bkoganbing18 December 2006
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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Not the March version, but pretty good, anyway!
BobLib1 October 1999
Unlike Universal, MGM was never a studio associated much with out-and-out horror films (A notable exception: 1932's great "The Mask of Fu Manchu," with Boris Karloff, Myrna Loy, and Jean Hersholt). But, when they did make them, they made them with the legendary MGM class and gloss. And such a one was the 1941 version of Stevenson's "Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde." Unlike the March version, this wasn't a particularly scary film, but more of a suspenseful one. As befits the director who made "Wizard of Oz," "Red Dust," and "Gone with the Wind," Victor Fleming turns the story into a thinking man's horror film, and succeeds brilliantly.

As to the cast, Spencer Tracy, like Frederick March, was effectively cast against type for the part, and delivers a good, understated performance. His Hyde is very much the Hyde of the book, an evil, decayed version of Jekyll himself, rather than a monster. This last was accomplished by Jack Dawn's equally understated makeup. Lana Turner, and Jekyll's fiance, Beatrix, is little more than pretty set decoration. Let's face it, she wouldn't really prove she could act until "Peyton Place" and "Imitation of Life" in the late '50's. But Ingrid Bergman, now, that's another story! In one of her first U.S. films, she delivers a brilliant performance as Ivy Peterson, the Cockney barmaid unwillingly cought up in Hyde's insane reign of terror. Her scenes with Tracy, both as Jekyll and as Hyde, fairly crackle with energy. These are two comsummate pros working together, and they don't disappoint. In the only other supporting roles of any importance, Donald Crisp, Ian Hunter, Barton McLane, and Sara Allgood all aquit themselves beautifully.
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Unresolved problems
keith-moyes19 September 2006
Warning: Spoilers
It is impossible to watch this movie without comparing it to Reuben Mamoulian's 1931 Paramount version. I prefer the earlier version, but this one does have certain advantages.

When Mamoulian's movie was made, sound movies were barely four years old - and it shows. It wasn't simply a question of technology. The aesthetics of sound films were different: the structure of the story, the rhythm of scenes; the use of close-ups, etc. had all changed. Mamoulian's film is very accomplished, but is still on the cusp of this change and Fleming's film is undoubtedly a smoother, more confident piece of film-making. Similarly, Tracy gives a genuine movie performance. Frederic March may have won an Oscar, but his Jeckyll has the declamatory style of the theatre so characteristic of very early sound films.

However, it also has disadvantages. In 1931, the censor had less power than in 1941. Mamoulian was able to overrule many of his objections. He still had to be fairly discreet, but he could be somewhat more explicit than Fleming about Jeckyll's sexual frustration.

More importantly, instead of going to the book for inspiration, MGM simply re-made Mamoulian's movie - scene by scene. As a result it inevitably feels a bit stale in comparison. This was also a missed opportunity, because whatever its merits (and they are many) Mamoulian's film had not really solved the problem of how to tell this story. Fleming simply reproduces its shortcomings.

The book is basically a mystery. A lawyer encounters the loathsome Mr Hyde and learns of his connections with Jeckyll. Various other strange events occur. After Hyde commits a savage and unprovoked murder, the lawyer starts to investigate. Meanwhile, Jeckyll deposits a letter with him that must not be read until his death or disappearance. Eventually, the lawyer tracks Hyde down to Jeckyll's laboratory where he is found dead. This takes up 9 of the 10 chapters of the book. He reads the letter, which explains the mystery.

Both movies dispense with the mystery and go straight to the letter. What makes Jeckyll's confession so compelling is how it documents his gradual slide into 'addiction'. Initially, Hyde is a means by which he can indulge in his vices without shame, remorse or consequences. But each time he does so, Hyde gets stronger and his behaviour gets worse. Eventually, Jeckyll loses control altogether and Hyde can appear of his own accord. In despair, he commits suicide.

The core of the book, therefore, is Jeckyll's first person narrative. The cinema is no good at the first person and both these movies tell Jeckyll's story from the normal third person perspective. But Jeckyll has no one he can talk to about his experiences, so we lose most of his motivation and much of his growing anguish. This movie implies that his initial experiment was motivated by a desire to heal, but we are given no reason why he continues to take the transforming drug and see little of his power struggle with Hyde. We see the initial transformation, during which nothing happens (as in the book) then, on the second transformation, we get a long scene with Hyde in the bar and an even longer one of him terrorising and brutalising Ivy, separated by a short scene of Beatrix with her father. As a result, Jeckyll disappears from the movie for 25 minutes - Hyde has taken over the story.

When Jeckyll does turn up again, Hyde's actions have become so appalling that we no longer understand Jeckyll's position. Does he know what Hyde has been doing? In the book he does, but in this movie we are not sure. If he knows, then he is a callous, hypocritical monster, who is as bad as Hyde. But if he doesn't, why does he take the drug at all? Both movies shy away from a crucial feature of the story. Jeckyll enjoys being Hyde! Without this realisation, the story may seem to be fairly simple and clear-cut, but it actually makes no sense.

I doubt if there is any way to tell this story effectively without a voice-over narration. Jeckyll has to tell the audience directly what he is thinking and feeling. In 1931, the voice-over was probably not even technically possible. By simply copying this movie, Fleming misses a crucial opportunity to improve on it.

I would make one final observation. In this version, Hyde's make-up is much more subtle than in Mamoulian's film, but neither is really satisfactory. Mamoulian's simian throw-back could barely pass as human, but in this movie there is no way that Ivy could fail to recognise that Jeckyll and Hyde are one and the same.

Both movies are trapped in a convention that probably goes back to the very first stage productions and was reinforced by Barrymore's bravura transformation scene in the 1920 movie: traditionally, one actor plays both parts. There is no warrant for this in the book. Hyde is very different from Jeckyll (and is actually much smaller, especially in the beginning). This convention was not challenged until Hammer in the Sixties, but I feel that both of these movies would have worked better if a second actor had played Hyde. The lead actors would then have been spared the agony (March) and the embarrassment (Tracy) of that Hyde make-up.
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Bone Chilling!
GOWBTW8 June 2006
Many versions of the Robert Louis Stevenson classic of "DJ&MH" come and go, the one with Spencer Tracy is the absolute favorite of mine. I just love the trick camera work of this one. Where Dr. Henry Jekyll becomes the revolting and sinister Mr. Edward Hyde. The translation of the novel was well made, and as I recall, the way Hyde looked at himself in the mirror, really made my blood curdle. When Hyde went to the bar and be spilling the pounds all over, man that is one man I wouldn't be around. The dinner scene is great, and the church scene is really good as well, the only scene that really tops it was when Hyde kills a man with the cane that belonged to Jekyll. That to me is really going too far. Turning from one man into another is a game one person shouldn't play, there's always going to be a price to pay. And Jekyll had to pay it. When they showed that Jekyll was transforming into Hyde, the police never wasted any time. The book is everything, the movie is a classic. It is everything a novel lover should have. 5 stars
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"Tracy's performance still gives me nightmares"
aliciam1104-527-67602312 November 2012
I think what made Spencer Tracy so good in this role was that his prior movies showed the actor as he seemed to be, a nice guy. As Dr. Jekyll, he is a caring and understanding doctor, but when turning into Hyde we see a performance unlike any Mr. Tracy has played before. Hyde is all evil, totally delighted by being menacing with no regard to anyone else. For this reason I would highly recommend this movie to anyone who enjoys a good thriller, without the gore. The rest of the cast is excellent, especially Ingrid Bergman as Ivy, who is the subject of Hyde's sick amusement. This is a chilling movie, made in black and white which seems to add to the suspense.
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A true classic. The best version of the story. Tracy at his Best
the_great10 November 2005
I have to disagree with the comment "For all you Tracy fans only", and also with the comments that suggest the 1931 version of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde is far better.

First of all, I am not a Spencer Tracy fan - at least I didn't consider myself as one. Yes, the word dull came to mind. But after seeing the superb 1941 version of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, I found myself wondering if anyone could have played Dr. Jekyll and especially Mr. Hyde any better than him.

In the 1931s original a handsome, wimpy Dr. Jekyll transforms into an ugly, retarded Mr. Hyde. While this Mr. Hyde hardly resembles his alter ego Jekyll, except for neediness, I do not find that as a strong, interesting controversy in the film. Fredric March was a great actor, but in this film with this script different actors could have played the parts of Jekyll and Hyde and it wouldn't have made any difference. Awkward, still boring film.

I was expecting so much, but stopped taping this pretty soon into the film. The psychology is awful (I am not suggesting that all films should emulate "real" life, but all films should be "real" in a world of their own, whatever it is.) I had seen the 1941s version earlier, and boy, it doesn't have a dull moment. I started watching this for Lana Turner, and there she is, looking pretty. Yes, she should have played the part Ingrid Bergman took, but you can't have it all all the time. Perhaps Ingrid Bergman was the girl to play the waitress. I truly enjoyed her masochistic portrayal of the bad girl.

Yes the film owns a lot to the original - filmed on same location, same choreography? The makers of this film had a decade to learn from the mistakes of the original and turn it around with better lines and nuances.

With one look from Spencer Tracy, a trouble maker changes his mind. "I'm sorry governor". Imagine Fredric March, in his monkey make up, doing that? He would have been laughed out the club, or not get in at all.

To add the grade to 10, Peter Godfrey as the butler. The end of this film is truly spiritual, merciful and frightening at the same time. And all of this is accomplished without any phony art stuff, as they would have tried these days.

A true classic.
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so many people seem to prefer the older version of everything
rockinghorse30 March 2004
Spencer Tracy is magnificent in this, doing Mr Hyde basically with changes in behavior and agility rather than heavy make-up. He scared me to death when he vaulted over a railing and down a couple fo flights of stairs.

This is more of a thriller than a horror movie and done long before it became fashionable to throw tons of money and big-name performers at horror classics in order to produce blockbusters that were once just silly.

This supposedly cleaned-up version has Hyde asking Ingrid Bergman if she likes him because he's a little bit Jeckyll or Jeckyll because he's a little bit Hyde.

So many people are fussing that this movie turns the prostitute into a bar maid. Folks, in that part of London at that time, bar maids WERE prostitutes.

I find any moster more scary with no facial hair or deformities added. This Mr Hyde could well exist in real life. In fact, he DOES exist in real life. Once in a while we manage to prove it and put him in prison.
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Better than it's reputation would have you believe
kirksworks26 August 2012
Warning: Spoilers
I've seen many Spencer Tracy films, but he isn't one of my favorites. He was rarely convincing. Couldn't buy him as Portuguese in "Captain's Courageous," less convincing in "Tortilla Flat" as a Mexican-American, too old for his role in "Bad Day at Black Rock," and not believable as a Cuban in "The Old Man and the Sea." He was better in comedies like "Libeled Lady," and "Adam's Rib," but where he really shined was as doctors. He plays opposite Hedy Lamarr in "I Take This Woman," a not very good film, but with a fine and believable performance by Tracy as the doctor in love with her.

His finest performance, however, is "Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde," a film often unfavorably compared to the '31 film. Frederick March is on par with Tracy as an actor. He too overplayed, but Tracy could reach a higher level when he was in top form, and there is no better example of this than the two "Jekyll and Hyde."

Part of the problem with the '31 directed by Rouben Mamoulian was the concept for Hyde, a hairy Simian type beast. March does the best he can with that mouthful of teeth, but his Hyde is too much a monster and less human than the Tracy. This is where the '41 directed by Victor Fleming, excels. March overplayed Hyde, and his Jekyll had many corny moments. What Tracy brought to Jekyll was believability as someone in the medical profession, someone who even before transforming himself, somehow conveys a perverse longing to visit the dark side.

March never scares me like Tracy. What Tracy brings to Hyde is subtle and insidious. Remarkably evil. You can see it in his eyes, in his smile, in how he uses his voice like a snake constricting around Ivy. Tracy's scenes with Ingrid Bergman are uncomfortable to watch because of the hideous way he plays with her sense of well-being. These same scenes were in the March version, but don't create the same pathos.

Miriam Hopkins was a fine actress, and she did very well opposite March, but she's no Bergman. Neither was the character Ivy in the early film as well conceived. Hopkins' Ivy is a somewhat unhappy tart, and her tease of Jekyll at the beginning where we see her swing her leg back and forth is more a conniving entrapment than Bergman's playful Ivy. The 1941 version is far more emotional because of Bergman's Ivy. Her Ivy may be a tart, but Bergman convinces us she's got a sweet inner core deep within. When she is terrorized and murdered by Hyde, it's hard to take. The girl Hyde destroys in the '41 has a steeper fall from grace, and her end is more pitiable.

The scene where Ivy comes to visit Dr. Jekyll and shows him the wounds inflicted on her back by Hyde has more resonance than the earlier film. This is not because of Hopkins, who is on a par with Bergman in that scene, but because March lays it on thick. Tracy's guilt is more palpable, and we want to believe him when he tells Bergman's Ivy that she will never see Hyde again. When Hyde does return to Ivy, his appearance is all the more hurtful for we, like Ivy, wanted to believe Jekyll.

I do prefer the '31 gas lit London and its enclosed, more claustrophobic, rickety streets, but the fog enshrouded London of the '41 is suitably moody and depressing.

Years ago I saw a screening of the '41 with a friend who was put off by how depressing it was. Yes, this is true. "Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde" is a very dark, depressing story. Hyde kills Ivy, he kills his fiancé's father, and he actually kills Jekyll as well. He's a vicious brute that brings calamity wherever he goes. I've seen both films many times, but the '41 is the one that continues to pull emotion. This is due to Tracy and Bergman, as well as Fleming's direction. Mamoulian was a great director, but Fleming was his equal.

The score by Franz Waxman is beautifully tragic, something missing from the '31. In the earlier we have Bach's Toccata and Fugue as a segue to the famous POV sequence reveal of Dr. Jekyll. The Waxman score works in the song "Can You See Me Dance the Polka," and it becomes a taunt for Hyde to invade Ivy's soul. "Champagne Ivy" in the '31 doesn't have the same gaiety.

The '41 has some laughable symbolism during the first transformation of Jekyll riding a carriage and whipping his horses, which become Bergman and Lana Turner (the fiancé). This stands out as a bad decision by the screen writers. Fortunately, that sort of thing is not repeated. The '31 has more of it. There's the statue of the angel embracing a woman that we see as Hyde kills Ivy, the cat attacking the bird when Jekyll is overwhelmed by Hyde in the park and the boiling cauldron at the end. These are just as heavy-handed. The park scene in the '41 is improved by Jekyll's whistling suddenly becoming Ivy's song, the suggestion Hyde is taking over. Much better.

The '31 is lauded for it's transformation scenes, but the makeup is obvious, particularly the painted nostrils and the use of filters to reveal the make-up. Tracy depends more on his performance. He brings believability to both Jekyll and Hyde.

There have been many versions of this story and I've seen most, but the Tracy remains my favorite. It's main drawback is it's similarity to the '31, but in just about every case, the '41 has more impact. If you haven't seen the '31 see the '41 first, then go back and see the older. You'll see how much subtlety gets lost.
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Excellent translation of the original story to screen
Brian-1405 November 2002
If one approaches this movie to compare it to the previous (1931) version of the same story there are bound to be some negative comments. But if one goes back to the original story, this movie becomes the ONLY true translation of the original novel to the screen.

Robert Louis Stevenson intended his story to be a portrayal of a staunchly virtuous man who slowly degraded himself spiritually to something less than human - a sort of psychological self-destruction. Stevenson was very reluctant about using the mad-scientist angle and stated that he felt the potion drinking was "just so much hugger-mugger."

This movie is a perfect encapsulation of Stevenson's original vision. Dr. Jekyll is a staunchly virtuous man who, despite warning from both clergy and friends, feels that he has the strength to tackle the secrets of the soul. Alas, he has not that strength and finds himself strangled to death in the coils of the serpent he unleashes.

Granted there are some bad things about the movie: Tracey could have been a shade more emotional, and it would have been nice if the proper accents were used (a london dance-hall stageshow being done with a Mae West accent????). But the fact that Tracey is able to show the transformation using only the power of the actor rather than the makeup makes this the most exceptional film of its type.

Worth watching!
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Good Cast Carries a Slow-Moving Adaptation
Snow Leopard10 July 2001
This version of the classic "Dr. Jekyll & Mr. Hyde" story is more slow-moving and psychological than most. Rather than emphasizing the more horrific elements of the story, it relies on a good cast to bring out the ways that the characters and their relationships are affected by the doctor's weird experiment. It's not the version to watch if you are looking for excitement or horror, but as a more psychological approach it mostly works.

Spencer Tracy plays the dual leading role, and does pretty well at creating two distinct personalities - the transformation uses only minimal special effects, and relies on Tracy to make the characters convincing. Lana Turner and Ingrid Bergman work well as Beatrix and Ivy, and the rest of the cast members are also all very good. What the film lacks in excitement it makes up for in making Dr. Jekyll's world believable.

If you're already familiar with the story in its more horrific versions, this would be worth a look if you're interested in a different take on it. It's probably not the place to start, though, if you don't yet know the story.
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Undermined by the Code, Enhanced by Bergman...
ElMaruecan8222 December 2017
An adaptation of "Robert Louis Stevenson's classic "Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde" wasn't particularly necessary after the 1931 version, but just as the Fredric March version brought new elements over the 1920 silent classic with John Barrymore, there could have been something fresh to make out of the 'old' material. The subject would have been even more relevant in the worldwide context of 1941. Unfortunately, the film only retreads the same formula and fails to pass as a superior version, mostly because of the prevailing Hays Code. Don't get me wrong, it is a good film in its own right and it's served by solid acting and confident directing, but the good parts were either as good in the 1931 version or better.

Although he looks more middle-aged than "young", Spencer Tracy delivers a fine performance as Dr. Jekyll, he's an ambitious, stubborn man who doesn't hesitate to confront a suspicious and unfriendly crowd when exposing some politically incorrect ideas about the natural duplicity of the human soul. And while he's a great Jekyll, Tracy can't explore the evil richness of Hyde as March was allowed to. I don't think it's a comment on his acting abilities since Tracy is the epitome of versatility, but something must have been too limiting in that directing from Fleming.

Mamoulian who did the 1931 film was a Russian so he could inject some bold creativity and he did... but Fleming was too conventional, if we except the one scene where I thought I was watching a Hitchcock movie. There's perhaps one stroke of genius that elevates the film slightly above its predecessor. During the transformation scene, a hallucination shows Jekyll whipping two horses whose faces are slowly transposed to the two women: Lana Turner who plays Beatrix, the eye-candy society lady and Ingrid Bergman who plays hell-for-soul prostitute Ivy Pearson. Apart from that one blow at the Code, the film might have been too 'good' for its own good.

Tracy could then only venture his character in the realm of emotional volatility rather than that bestial lust that made March so domineering. In the dinner scene, there's a lady referring to that new chap named Oscar Wilde. I don't think that was incongruous, among Wilde's famous quotations: "the best way to resist temptation is to yield to it.". The Jekyll/Hyde story has always been built on two chapters: Jekyll resisting the temptation and Hyde's dark indulgences. But there's nothing in that Jekyll that seems ever exposed to the temptations, even when he first meets Ivy, Tracy plays it like a father figure and Bergman's heart is broken. We see love more than lust.

And it doesn't get better with Hyde, the 1931 one had the face of a prehistoric man, incarnating our hidden impulses, Hyde here is evil all right but the very point of Hyde is to be more than a villain, here he looks like some bum escaped from an asylum, a rabid dog ready to bite out of despair, but not like some individual driven by something repressed for years.Maybe it's Lana Turner as Beatrix who failed to inspire Tracy (too voluptuous and sweet) but in the 1931 film, you could feel the sexual tension between Rose Hobart and March, and a similar tension between Jekyll and Ivy (played by Myriam Hopkins).

I guess, the code is to be blamed, because while it does expose battle between the forces of good and evil in human soul, the line that Jekyll has to cross is never drawn in clear terms. There were even moments where it was hard to tell if he was Jekyll turning into Hyde or the opposite, and even harder to believe his friend and colleague and best friend Lanyon (Ian Hunter) didn't know it was Jekyll. Still, for all these flaws, the film has one asset and not the least, her name is Ingrid Bergman. I read that it was her performance in "Intermezzo" that won her the part for "Casablanca", I'm pretty confident that this film achieved to convince the producers, she was good on an Oscar level, proving to have some gift when it came to play long suffering women.

There was something in her performance as the poor ill-fated Ivy that almost stole the thunder of Jekyll and Hyde and avoided her typecast as 'nice women', she embodied the trauma of women who're pleasant enough to appeal to respectable men but can only attract sleazy thugs like Hyde. She was a real tragic character and indirectly the redeeming factor of the film. I didn't feel scared by Hyde as much as I felt sorry for Ivy. And the way she went from childish joy to sheer terror when the shadow of Hyde begun to creep was perhaps the most painful to watch moment. Yes she was that good.

And she was so good that according to Katharine Hepburn, Spencer Tracy wanted Bergman to play the dual role and I thought that was an interest twist on the story, how about the duplicity of women as well as men. Lana Turner didn't add nothing to the film (without ruining it though) so it's sad that Fleming didn't follow that advice, who knows, maybe the film's reputation would have been enhanced? It's still worth to watch for the atmosphere, the performances of the two leads but this is one movie where the context is crucial to understand where it succeeded, and where it failed. Fortunately, there's still the 1931 version, and it is the definite one.
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Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde
naivemelody197524 June 2005
I just saw this movie for the first time a few days ago and really enjoyed it. I must say I was a little surprised by the bits of "erotic" imagery. I wonder what people thought of that back in 1941. The performances by Ingrid Bergman and Spencer Tracy were very good. Ingrid is mesmerizing and beautifully effervescent. Her strange accent though is at first hard to comprehend. (Is she supposed to be Swedish, Irish, Cockney or what?) It's also fun to see how they managed the special effects - if you look closely at any one of the action scenes involving Mr. Hyde, there are many very obvious stunt doubles and other endearing "mistakes". I also thought it had just enough philosophical underpinnings to make it not just a old fluff "horror" movie.
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MGM Gloss Meets Jekyll and Hyde
JLRMovieReviews26 October 2010
What do you get when you cross Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde with MGM gloss? Spencer Tracy, Ingrid Bergman, and Lana Turner in this boisterous, not-so-subtle Freudian-laden adaptation of Robert Lewis Stevenson's tale of the good and bad in all of us. To begin with, I'll admit this doesn't have the perhaps intelligent and thoughtful means about it, than its predecessor does. This film more or less tells the story in a straight forward fashion, but is more showy and somewhat superficial without centering too much on the serious, disturbing aspects of Dr. Jekyll's actions. And, they don't have Spencer undergoing such a physical change as Fredric March did. Having said that, I think this version is much better, in that all the elements come together to make a better package. It has an almost reverent affection for its subject matter, and is more emotional in terms of characters and how they relate to each other, especially Ingrid as Ivy and Spencer. This adaptation is a little longer than the original and seems to take its time with its characters and excels in bringing the viewer there to the time and place and being in the moment, you might say. And, to watch Ingrid Bergman act is worth the price of admission alone. She originally was to be play Lana's role and Lana was to be Ivy, but Ingrid felt there was more meat to Ivy's character and asked for the change and obviously got it; boy, was she right. But, it is a bit hard to take his cruel treatment of her. It seems like Tracy's Hyde is just plain mean, evil, and sadistic. Then there's Lana Turner, who's given a throwaway role, with not much to do, but what she does, most men will be watching on the edge of their seats for. And, then there's dependable character actor Donald Crisp as her father, and Ian Hunter as Jekyll's friend. If you want MGM's grade A treatment splashed all over literature brought to life on the silver screen, then this is for you. Tracy and Bergman at their best, and Lana never looking better.
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Ponderous - certainly not scary - but beautiful.
David-24026 June 1999
This is a thoughtful interpretation of the Stevenson story but is very rarely emotionally engaging. The theme seems to be sexual repression, with Hyde coming from Jekyll's repressed lust. As Hyde takes over we witness some extraordinary and very graphic Freudian imagery such as Bergman and Turner, naked, pulling a chariot containing Tracy and his whip, and Bergman being screwed out of a bottle by a corkscrew! Amazing. But the horror of the story is never realized and there is too much philosophical chat.

Tracy is terrific in the lead, but his make-up for Hyde is too subtle to be effective. The transformations require him to stand completely still which makes them a bit dull. The final transformation is quite an achievement however. Bergman could have been great but her attempt at a cockney accent seriously detracts from her fine emotional interpretation. Lana Turner is awful as Tracy's true love. But the rest of the cast is very strong - especially Donald Crisp.

The film also contains some fine Fleming touches, including his beautiful slow pans over magnificent sets and crowd scenes. The cinematography is excellent - make sure you don't watch the colorised version - and foggy Victorian London is recreated stunningly. This film never rises to the horror of the 1920 or the 1932 versions but still has much to offer.
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The MGM Experience.
nycritic27 October 2005
Warning: Spoilers
Less a horror movie than a lavish excursion into an elegant costume drama MGM-style, this version of Robert Louis Stevenson's novella still manages to hold itself well due to the presences of the three leads, Spencer Tracy, and two rising female stars – Ingrid Bergman, and a very young Lana Turner.

The story behind DOCTOR JEKYLL AND MR HYDE is that Spencer Tracy wasn't one of the actors to be considered for the role, but because he knew that his looks were too masculine to be taken for a matinée idol, he tackled the dual role in his own way, but on viewing his own performance it seems he overacted whenever he was on screen as Mr. Hyde, and the makeup didn't exactly help. Nevertheless the actor he was he tackled the role and this is the performance he gave: far from his best, but not altogether unwatchable.

If anything, the culprit to blame is the direction in itself, which here is of no mention other than it's plainly bad. There is almost no atmosphere, no trepidation that Jekyll is delving into uncharted territory and unleashing his monstrous side with devastating results, and an extremely laughable sequence in which Hyde crazily flogs his horses which bear the heads of Bergman and Turner. With so much subtext to the material, this is almost its bastard incarnation, wooden and lifeless, a footnote in Tracy's, Bergman's, and Turner's acting careers.
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Best Horror Film of the 1940s
leecushing27 March 2001
MGM did a stellar job of producing a high quality Horror film, putting together director Victor Fleming (of "Gone with the Wind" fame) and stars Lana Turner, Ingrid Bergman, and Spencer Tracy. This film demonstrates that horror doesn't have to be campy, low-budget schtick. Like 2000's "The 6th Sense," 1941's "Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde" actually respected the horror material enough to demonstrate the heights to which a major studio could take the genre.

The film takes us to darker places than we dare imagined existed at good ol' MGM, home of the happy-go-lucky family musical. We see the confident, handsome, Jeckyll dissolve into a cruel, crass, foul-minded Hyde with Tracy's masterful performance.

Bergman and Turner also turn in gritty, splendid performances with their less-than-life affirming characters. Rather than playing it for sci-fi thrills, this interpretation of Robert Louis Stevenson's novel focuses more on Tracy's losing battle to tame the demon of Hyde. The result is a riveting parable on the banality of evil (all the more visceral in retrospect, given the film's release at the brink of World War II.)

The Film Snob, Lee Cushing
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Classic Horror
Uriah4313 July 2013
Set in Victorian England in 1887, a wealthy doctor by the name of "Dr. Jekyll" (Spencer Tracy) has begun experimenting on animals to determine if it is possible to separate good qualities from those determined to be bad. When he discusses his research at a dinner party his ideas are met with a great deal of consternation, especially on the part of his fiancé's father, "Sir Charles Emery" (Donald Crisp). In fact, Sir Charles is so concerned that he decides to take his daughter, "Beatrix Emery" (Lana Turner) with him out of the country in order to separate the two and give him some time to think about whether the wedding should go forward or not. In the meantime, Dr. Jekyll has grown frustrated with the progress of his research and decides to administer his experimental concoction on himself. Suddenly he turns from a charming and considerate person into a malevolent being called "Mr. Hyde". To make matters worse, with Beatrix gone he sets his sadistic sights on a young barmaid named "Ivy Peterson" (Ingrid Bergman) to satisfy his brutal and abusive nature. Now, rather than detailing the entire plot I will just say that the director (Victor Fleming) does an excellent job of capturing the dark and gloomy ambiance that this movie depends upon. And while both Lana Turner and Ingrid Bergman turn in very good performances, it is Spencer Tracy who really makes this film so successful. Definitely recommended for fans of classic horror.
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The Best Large Screen Version of DR. JECKYLL AND MR. HYDE?
theowinthrop27 August 2006
The 1931 version of DR. JECKYLL AND MR. HYDE was directed by Rouben Mamoulian, and it starred Fredric March in the dual title role. It won the star the Best Actor Oscar, the only time that award was won for a horror film role (or a science fiction part). Mamoulian experimented at the start, and in one key sequence with the "I am a camera" technique, wherein the viewer was treated like he was seeing things from the perspective of the character of Jeckyll. Jeckyll himself was supposed to look like an early form of prehistoric man - nearly an ape. It's still a good performance, but many feel it is too stylized.

Ten years later MGM decided to do the property again, this time with Spencer Tracy. Tracy actually decided to follow a more classical approach to the role. He eschewed the make-up that March (and in the silent film, John Barrymore) used for the evil Hyde, and used a combination of facial contortions and lighting to change his appearance from the good doctor to his evil counterpart.

One would like to say that it works. It worked pretty well in 1888 for Richard Mansfield in his celebrated stage performance. But Mansfield could play with the theater lighting to create the physical change on stage. It was an amazing stage effect. It can't be done as well on film (or at least in a 1941 film - computerization might help today). Tracy's grimacing face does not look much different from his serious, good natured face for the Doctor. Even with the lights concentrating on his eyes it still doesn't look that different.

The result is that the audience has to make a logical jump and say that there was a physical change, in order to accept the story line. Otherwise, everyone would say that Jeckyll and Hyde is the same guy in the movie.

Fortunately Tracy's acting allows us to make such a logical jump. He was a terrific actor, and he certainly uses a subtlety in his evil that is unnerving. Except for his Arnold Boult in EDWARD MY SON he never portrayed as evil a character.

The best scene to catch Tracy's Hyde at it's best is when he is visiting his mistress Ivy. She had been hoping he would not come, but she was drinking when he arrives - to steady her nerves. No wonder - Hyde is like a cat toying with a mouse as he plays with Ivy. He plays the piano and keeps discounting various things that he and Ivy could do if they leave the apartment (as she would hope - if they are in public she has a better chance for help). But he keeps finding reasons not to do things, so that (in his opinion) it is better for them to stay at home. And even at home, they have limited options. "You could read to me," Hyde sweetly says, "But we do not have the book!" A later scene where he surprises a sleeping Lana Turner on a park bench, leering at her, is also unnerving. You never see Tracy like that in other films.

Bergman's Ivy is to be compared with Miriam Hopkins in the earlier film. Both realize that Dr. Jeckyll is sexually interested in them, and both secretly hope to catch him (not realizing that he has caught them in his bad personality). But Hopkins always seemed prepared to act like a prostitute (in the 1931 film she readily shows off her leg for March's Jeckyll). But Bergman is more tragic in a way. She has a job as a bar maid that she is serious about (Hopkins was more of an "entertainer"). Bergman's Ivy is friendly but seemingly careful, and unfortunately she falls under the gaze of an unscrupulous man.

Interestingly in the 1931 film Hopkins was singing a version of an actual tune called "Champaign Charlie is my name", changing it to "Champaign Ivy is my name." She sings it happily at first, but when March demands her singing it, she sings it haltingly and frightened. Bergman sings a jaunty number, "Do you want to dance the polka?" at the bar, but is forced to sing it (as Hopkins did the other song) in a broken version for Tracy. Interestingly enough, when Michael Caine appeared in 1988 in a two part television film about Jack the Ripper, the music in a scene involving three of the Ripper's prostitute victims used "Do you want to dance the polka?" as background music, and I believe it was not a 19th song at all, but composed for the 1941 film.

Rose Hobart played the role of General Carew's daughter (Jeckyll's respectable fiancé) in the 1931 film. There was nothing especially interesting about her (except she was pretty), so she did not do much in that film. But Lana Turner was was a rising star, and her part got built up a bit with some scenes alone with Tracy. She also appears in a sexual fantasy sequence as one of a pair of "horses" (with Bergman) that Tracy is riding. And there is that "leering" sequence where Tracy as Hyde frightens her. Turner did nicely in the role, although Bergman's part was more interesting.

The supporting parts are equally good, with Donald Crisp as the doomed father of Turner, Aubrey Smith as the righteous Bishop Manners (who is thrown momentarily by a noisy Barton MacLane in his congregation, jeering at the Bishop's homilies about Christian goodness), and MacLane himself in the brief sequence as the insane man with no compunction about doing evil.

I like Tracy's version - on most points it is better acted than the 1931 version. But March's make-up, no matter how strange it looks, still is more acceptable than Tracy's dependence on light and shadows.
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Excellent Version of Classic Tale
MissRosa22 April 2000
Let's start with the deficiencies: cheap makeup and special effects, marginal sets and costumes. And perhaps my bias against Spencer Tracy.

I've never liked Tracy as an actor, although I'll be the first to acknowledge his best work. He has always struck me as paternal, smug, self-righteous and ponderous -- although that may be because he was type cast.

IMHO this is his best film, because it shows not only his typical character (Dr. Jekyll) but that character's doppelganger (Mr. Hyde). ~I've always wanted to use that word in a review~ Tracy is not afraid of playing a very sinister, menacing character. (I wish more directors would have given him that chance). He plays Hyde as a jet-propelled, leering, vicious fiend -- and is convincing. When he is Hyde, he looks like a very horny James Whitmore -- on speed. He is very unsettling. Perhaps Tracy should have done more horror movies.

What makes the film is simply the powerful and touching performances of Tracy and Bergman. Bergman simply glows with life. Although the Freudian implications are not explored in depth here, this version is absorbing and sometimes mesmerizing.
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Ingrid & Lana Make This Film Easy On The Eyes
ccthemovieman-124 October 2006
The best part of the film is ogling the two female leads. Ingrid Bergman, who uncharacteristically (in the movies) plays a tramp, is gorgeous and Lana Turner ain't bad. You get those two and Spencer Tracy, who's almost always interesting, and you have three good leads.

What's lacking are the special-effects which are needed in a horror story like this. With modern special-effects, better sounds and cameras, it would have made this - and other horror films - scarier.

Still, they did a decent job here in regard to Dr. Jekyll's transformation into Hyde, but the movie needs more suspense and horror, and a tighter script if it's going to be about two hours long.

Still, there's Bergman and Turner, both in their prime, looking about as good as they appeared and that's almost enough for me to continue watching this a few more times.
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You should see me dance the polka
utgard1423 January 2014
This version of the Stevenson classic story doesn't hold a candle to the 1931 version but it has a lot to recommend on its own. The main complaint about it is that it doesn't feel like a horror film but more a psychological drama or thriller. Spencer Tracy's Hyde is less monsterish than Fredric March's. But this is more in keeping with the story they wanted to tell with this version, which is a focus on the psychological rather than the physical. Still, Tracy does a good job.

Ingrid Bergman and Lana Turner were originally cast in the other's part but switched to offer Bergman a chance to play against type. This works to great effect, in my opinion. Turner is a sweet, lovely angel here. A far cry from the glamorous femme fatale we think of her as today. As for Bergman, her sexy performance as Ivy is the standout of the film. One of my favorite roles of hers. The movie's a bit slow and probably won't please monster fans but it's a good movie with fine performances and nice direction. It really only suffers by comparison. Judged on its own merits it's very entertaining.
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Failed star-driven version of the oft-told tale...inexplicably smothered in good taste
moonspinner5518 November 2009
Robert Louis Stevenson's novella "The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde", first adapted as a play in the 1900s and filmed as a silent in 1920, is ironed out here for upper-crust audiences of 1941--this is no horror movie. Perhaps Fredric March's Oscar-winning turn as Dr. Jekyll in the 1932 version helped to shape the vision and performances, as Spencer Tracy's portrayal of the mad scientist of gas-lit London is played strictly for prestige. Hoping to isolate good and evil individually in the mind of man, Jekyll acts as his own guinea pig and ultimately finds evil the predominant force inside himself. Two striking (if somewhat outrageous) dream sequences are the visual stand-outs, which accentuates the main problem: this story should be told mostly in visual terms, yet director Victor Fleming relies too much on the text. Ingrid Bergman lets her hair down as a lower-class barmaid, but she's as unconvincing saying "ain't" as are the townspeople who greet each other with "'ello, Gov'nuh!" This is mid-Victorian London by way of Hollywood, U.S.A., and while the production is elegant, the movie rarely comes to life. ** from ****
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Sanitized Remake of Fredric March Classic!
bsmith55529 February 2004
This was the third version of the oft filmed Robert Louis Stevenson story of a man's battle with his good and evil personalities. Although I consider the Fredric March version filmed ten years earlier to be better, this is nonetheless an entertaining film. Spencer Tracy takes on the title roles in this version with Ingrid Bergman playing the tragic bar-maid (not prostitute) Ivy Peterson and both are great in their roles.

Dr Jekyll (Tracy) is a successful high society doctor who is engaged to Beatrix Emery (the very young and very beautiful Lana Turner) whose father Sir Charles (Donald Crisp) is skeptical of Jekyll's trying to prove that man's soul has two sides...one good and one evil and thus places doubts on his daughter's future happiness. One night while returning home with his friend Dr. Lanyon (Ian Hunter), they come upon bar-maid Ivy Peterson (Bergman) who is being beaten by an unruly patron. Jekyll comes to her aid and takes her home. Ivy is immediately attracted to the suave and debonair Jekyll and tries to seduce him. Jekyll repels her advances but secretly harbors a desire for her.

Meanwhile, Sir Charles having become disillusioned with Jekyll's theories, takes Beatrix on a trip to the continent. Jekyll becomes distraught and buries himself in his work. One night he decides to try a formula he has created to separate good and evil personalities on himself. What emerges is a grotesque and brutal personality whom he names Mr. Hyde.

Hyde immediately remembers the alluring Ivy and seeks her out. He literally takes over her life and sets her up in a classy apartment and keeps her there "for his own purposes". He brutalizes her to the point the she fears his every appearance.

When Sir Charles and Beatrix return from their trip, Sir Charles agrees to an early marriage feeling that Jekyll has finally come to his senses. Jekyll then vows not to become Mr. Hyde again. But unfortunately, he makes an uncontrolled transformation on the street after having assured Ivy that Hyde would no longer bother her when she came to see him earlier.

Naturally Hyde goes straight to Ivy's apartment and confronts her on what she had said about him to Jekyll. She tries to escape but to no avail. Jekyll realizes that now he can no longer control Mr. Hyde and goes to Beatrix to break their engagement with tragic results.

Tracy's makeup is far less monstrous than that created for Fredric March ten years earlier. Director Victor Fleming goes for exaggerations of Tracy's features and the playing up of the psychological differences between Jekyll and Hyde. The first couple of transformations are played as dream sequences involving good girl Turner and bad girl Bergman. We don't see the actual transformation until well on into the movie.

Of note is the fact that although the story is set in late 19th century London, most of the cast speak without British accents. As talented as Ingrid Bergman was, her Cockney bar-maid accent is laughable. Also Jekyll's charitable work with the poor is barely mentioned in this version.

In addition to the above principals, look for Barton MacLane as man gone mad, Sara Allgood as his distraught wife, a clean shaven C. Aubrey Smith as a bishop and former silent movie comic Billy Bevan as Mr. Weller a lamplighter.

Tracy and Bergman make this an enjoyable movie.
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