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Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde

Fredric March , Miriam Hopkins , Rouben Mamoulian    Unrated   VHS Tape
4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (27 customer reviews)

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Classy MGM was not the studio most likely to make a horror movie in 1941, and in fact its production of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde ended up looking more like a glossy costume drama than a B-movie frightfest. The mood of Robert Louis Stevenson's tale of a divided doctor is ably captured in Joseph Ruttenberg's Oscar-nominated cinematography---more so, perhaps, than in Spencer Tracy's lead performance. Tracy wasn't especially happy about playing the role, although his transformations from good Dr. Jekyll to evil Dr. Hyde are convincing enough. One of the main reasons to see this version of the story is the young, impossibly beautiful Ingrid Bergman, then still a year shy of Casablanca. Bergman was cast in the good-girl part, but proved a shrewd judge of material, even this early in her Hollywood career; she finagled her way into playing the floozy instead, thus securing a more colorful acting platform than Lana Turner, who ended up in the more respectable role. Director Victor Fleming's previous movie was a little number called Gone with the Wind, and the Big Picture approach to that project may have influenced his work here--this Dr. Jekyll is just a bit too stately, too polished to really engage. The picture is so dignified it never cuts loose with the kind of wild invention that marked the 1932 version of the story, which won Fredric March an Oscar. It's the tale as imagined by Jekyll, rather than Hyde. ---Robert Horton

Customer Reviews

Most helpful customer reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars What I wanted Dec 27 2013
Format:DVD|Verified Purchase
Love this so much, I was super pleased with the condition and the movie is what it should be! Very pleased
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5.0 out of 5 stars Dr Jekyll and me Hyde April 19 2013
By Rose
Format:DVD|Verified Purchase
I've only watched Dr Jekyll and mr Hyde so far. It was really good. Older movies are great. I like black and white. I got it really fast too.
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Format:DVD
Fredric March earned an Academy Award for his bifurcated performance in the titular roles of the 1931 version--arguably the best to date--of DR. JEKYLL AND MR. HYDE, Robert Louis Stevenson's familiar tale of a scientist who uses chemistry to liberate his baser instincts and allow them free reign over his body and behavior. And the Oscar was certainly deserved, as March easily convinces the audience that he is two different and disparate men. As the academic Dr. Jekyll, March is prim and decorous, the epitome of Victorian English gentility. But as the mean and selfish Mr. Hyde, March really cuts it loose and chews the scenery. Part of the transformation can be attributed to the make-up, of course, which makes March look like a snaggletoothed hybrid of simian and Neanderthal. But the make-up alone would not suffice. It is March's brash delivery of dialogue, unusual gesticulations and posturing, and bizarre body language that really sells the unrestrained, vile nature of Jekyll's alter ego.
Another outstanding performance in the film is that of Miriam Hopkins. In the role of prostitute Ivy Pearson, both the object of Mr. Hyde's carnal desires and the victim of his sadistic abuse, the amply bosomed and nicely figured Ms. Hopkins can exude a lustful sexiness while simultaneously being personable enough to elicit genuine sympathy from the audience.
The direction and cinematography work is also outstanding and contributes greatly to the film's success. Director Rouben Mamoulian keeps the pacing brisk and the story tight, never allowing the audience an opportunity to become distracted or bored.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars for the 1932 Version Feb. 8 2004
Format:DVD
This is a two-sided DVD that contains two versions of the Robert Louis Stevenson classic. As many other reviewers here have said, the 1932 Frederick March version is far superior to the 1941 Spencer Tracy version. The older version, directed by a 34-year-old Rouben Mamoulian, is a masterpiece and part of movie history. The later version, directed by Gone With the Wind and Wizard of Oz director Victor Fleming, seems like an uninspired copy of the earlier one. Frederick March understood the role and seemed to revel in it. But, oddly, while he overacts a bit as Jeykyll, he seems totally believable as the monstrous Hyde. Tracy seemed uncomfortable with both personalities, playing Jekyll as too much of a saint and Hyde as too much of a leering sadist. March conveys the personality of Hyde as joyfully enervated by the full release of Jeykll's baser instincts. His Hyde has fun with his own badness. Tracy's just drowns in it.
The special effects in the older version are also superior, and there is lyrical Freudian symbolism in the sets, statues, paintings, etc, that really adds to the drama and continually reminds us of Mamoulian's power as a visual director. The newer version attempts some symbolism (for example, the two whipped horses transform into the two leading ladies) but its symbolism is so heavy handed that it makes the earlier film seem profoundly subtle by comparison.
Even the makeup in the older version is superior. In the Tracy version, Mr. Hyde's appearance seems inconsistent from cut to cut within the same scene. And the use of a masked double for Tracy, even in non-stunt scenes in the London fog, is painfully obvious. You don't even need to pause the DVD to see it.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Must have DVD Feb. 8 2004
Format:DVD
The fact that you are reading this shows your interest in this film. I can tell you now that you should purchase this DVD as soon as you finish reading this. Not only do you get two films on one disc but there is an excellect commentary track as well as a Bugs Bunny cartoon. I find the 1932 version the better of the two. Not only are the special effects better but so are the acting and pacing. For example, early in the 1932 film Dr. Jekyll makes his ideas known in a dramatic speech to a group of university professors. The 1941 film has Dr. Jekyll making his comments over a dinner conversation, it doesn't hold the viewers interest as well as the older film. Also, the makeup of the 1932 film turns Mr. Hyde uglier after each transformation. This helps to emphasize his more horrible behavior as the film goes on. The makeup on the final transformation is so extreme that, according to the commentary, March had to be hospitalized in order to prevent his face from being scarred for life. The older film also makes good use of several scenes with split screens.
The best way to compare the films is to see them for yourself, so do yourself a favor and order it now.
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5.0 out of 5 stars March Version is Best; Hopkins Sizzles Jan. 29 2004
Format:DVD
Even though this does not have the wit of the James Whale/Universal horror films, it is still a great piece. March is outstanding as J/H--his transformation and sinister/goofy portrayal of an apeish Hyde is great acting. This movie is worth watching if only for Miriam Hopkins. What a babe--think of her as the pre-code Cameron Diaz. She certainly seduced me.
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Most recent customer reviews
3.0 out of 5 stars Age Withers Classic
This review is of the l933 Rouben Mamoulian version with Frederick March. I was horrified to see that this DVD transfer is so botched. Read more
Published on April 21 2004 by Jery Tillotson
4.0 out of 5 stars Rare opportunity to explore the evolution of cinema
As one who never misses an opportunity to add a Spencer Tracy film to my collection, I must admit that I am a bit prejudice because of my view that he is, perhaps, the finest... Read more
Published on Jan. 28 2004 by Vincent T. Lynch
4.0 out of 5 stars Two Different Takes on Classic Story
I just finished watching these two old favorites on this dvd and I concur with the earlier comments. I've never seen the '32 version looking so gorgeous! Read more
Published on Jan. 28 2004 by Robert M. Fells
5.0 out of 5 stars dr. jekyll should go hyde
marvelous dvd with two great versions of the classic stevenson tale. certainly the best of any d-h version is the 1932 classic in which frederic march managed to win an oscar... Read more
Published on Jan. 22 2004
4.0 out of 5 stars TERRIFYING TWOSOME AT LAST ON DVD
Robert Lewis Stevenson's "Dr. Jekyll & Mr. Hyde" is basically a Victorian morality tale, about the power and predisposition of mankind for either good or evil. Read more
Published on Jan. 15 2004 by Nix Pix
5.0 out of 5 stars The 1932 Version Is A Pre-Code Delight
Wow. I was expecting something a little tamer, along the lines of the classic Universal horror shows that were being made in the early 1930's. Read more
Published on Jan. 14 2004 by Yancy J. Berns
5.0 out of 5 stars WICKED!
I'm loving these terrific twofers WB Home Video's been putting out recently. This ties with their HOUSE OF WAX/MYSTERY OF THE WAX MUSEUM double feature as my favorite dvd release... Read more
Published on Jan. 8 2004 by "mbstimm"
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