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Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde (1941)
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  • Enjoy!
    Just as in "Les Miserables", Frederic March really was this young once. The avuncular actor of later films won't be found. Here March portrays the split personality of both a kindly, idealistic London physician and the raging maniac he creates in his lab. Dr. J was filmed in creepy black and white-that lost art. The special effects are truly shivery as the good Jekyll transforms into the evil Hyde before the viewer's very eyes. Director Mamoulian keeps the pace frantic as March morphs from Jekyll to Hyde and back. The female leads are central to the plot. Both Miriam Hopkins and Rose Hobart are superb. MH is the racy, "pre Code" bar girl who Jekyll befriends and Hyde abuses. An old "Variety" review claimed that Hopkins played her role with "a capital sense of comedy and coquetry". She certainly had personality. RH is Hyde's proper upper class good girl. Her dad, played by Halliwell Hobbes, notably smells a rat with Jekyll early on. (According to the "Video Hound's Golden Movie Retriever" Ms. Hobart lived to the age of 92, dying in 2000). Hollywood, in the very early days of Academy Awards, noticed Dr. J. March won the Best Actor statuette but had to share it with Wallace Beery, ex post facto style. DR. J was put forth for Best Adapted Screenplay. If Makeup awards were given back then, there surely would have been another nomination. If Dr. J has any weak spots it lies in the decrease of dread each time March changes personalities. Also, Mamoulian may have had trouble with the coda. The film could have ended sooner. This reviewer made the same observation about "The Mark of Zorro" but these rants are minor. Dr. J represents classic early Hollywood, plain and simple. There appear to be several restored DVD and restored VHS versions out there for viewers to enjoy. ...more info
  • Horror classic tale on ultimate double feature DVD...
    Anyone interested in cinema's depiction of the diabolic dynamic duo of Dr. Henry Jekyll and Mr. Edward Hyde would do themselves a favor by purchasing this disc.
    To today's generation of movie-goers: FORGET the recent "League of Extraordinary Gentlemen" and "Van Helsing". Dr. Jekyll was not so confused and Mr. Hyde was not the Sasquatchesque CGI lightshow that these flicks have palmed off to the movie-going public.
    The 1931 version may be the ultimate film adaptation of R. L. Stevenson's novella. While liberties were taken with Stevenson's tale, the atmosphere and imagery make up for the differences. (According to the commentary, Stevenson's own niece wrote director Rouben Mamoulian a letter praising the film, regretting only that her uncle was not alive to see the film.) Fredric March well deserved the Academy-Award he won for the duelling egos. It is to March's credit that he does not phone-in the Jekyll performance and save the juice for Hyde. His Dr. Jekyll is a compassionate (and passionate) scientist/philanthropist whose vitality slowly disintegrates as "Mr. Hyde" overtakes him. March goes from a charming, vigorous gentleman to a trembling, tortured soul whose final good-bye to his fiance (Rose Hobart) is heartbreaking to watch. When he does change to Mr. Hyde, March again impresses, as he does not let the troglodytic makeup do the acting for him. His Mr. Hyde is a liberated, uninhibited creature - played from within - whose appetites and desires bring terrifying and tragic results. Both performances are tour-de-forces of nature.
    The 1941 film does not fare as well, although it is a respectable version. Spencer Tracy is not in his element, although he performs decently. His Mr. Hyde is actually closer to Stevenson's version (having a raspy voice and displeasing smile.) It would have been interesting to see what Robert Donat - MGM's original choice - would have done with the two characters. While the 1931 film was a compact atmospheric frightfest, the 1941 film is an "Illustrated Classics" movie - sumptuous sets, high production values, and comely leading ladies (Lana Turner and Ingrid Bergman), and is hampered by not being frightening. In spite of this, it is still well-worth seeing. (Trivia note: March himself liked Tracy's performance very much.)
    Also on this disc are the hilarious Bugs Bunny short "Hyde and Hare," a commentary to the 1931 film, and the trailer for the 1941 film.
    The musical "Jekyll and Hyde" has the tagline - "its such a fine line between a good man and a bad man." The same can be said of cinema. This double sided dvd is on the side of the line of good cinema......more info
  • Great make up
    This movie is one hour and thirty-eight minutes long and was released on December 31, 1931. Fredric March did the all time best Jekyll and Hyde. During the middle of the film we see the transformation of good well meaning Dr. Jekyll into the evil Mr. Hyde. Plus you have a sub-plot of the good doctor being engange to Muriel Carew and then towards the end of the movie when he is forced to release her because he cannot controll his transformation. In the end Mr. Hyde is kill and we witness the final transformation into Dr. Jekyll and his soul is finally at rest. This is a great film to own and watch....more info
  • Different from the book, but simply wonderful....
    The biggest difference between this film version of Dr. Jekyll and the book is that in the movie Dr. Jekyll is a SEXUALLY FRUSTRATED scientist bent on unlocking the secrets of man's unconscious. Whereas the book explores man's dark side and the lack of religious faith in one (Jekyll) the movie paints a picture of Victorian society's sexual standards. An example is when Poole, seeing his master upset, begs him to go out to a place for gentleman's and "amuse himself". Hyde refuses, saying he is not that type of gentleman.
    Yes, Jekyll does discover the serum and take it... but he does not take it a second time until his fiancee turns down his offer to marry immediately and leaves with her father for a two month vacation to Bath. Distraught, Jekyll runs to his lab, drinks his serum and then runs off to find the prostitute that proposistions him earlier in the film.
    This movie put Fredric March on the map and for good reason. He plays his dual character with gusto, and his transformation into Hyde is amazingly hideous and ahead of its time. Miriam Hopkins is Hyde's pitiful love interest, but the sexual tension between her and the few scenes she has with Jekyll is thick enough to cut with a butter knife.
    Completly engrossing, it's the best adaption of Jekyll/Hyde to date....more info
  • Ingrid & Lana Make The `41 Film Easy On The Eyes While March Excels In The Earlier 'Talkie'
    The best part of the 1941 film is ogling the two female leads. Ingrid Bergman, who uncharacteristically (in the movies) plays a tramp, is gorgeous, and Lana Turner, who 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.

    As for the 1931 version, this was a decent early effort (first "talkie" movie presentation) at the famous Robert Louis Stevenson story, this time with Frederic March in the lead role, which he plays well.

    The romance parts with March and Rose Hobardt are somewhat corny. The ending features a tremendous action scene with a very nimble "Hyde."

    It was interesting to hear Jekyll's name pronounced Gee-kle, with the long "e." I've never heard it pronounced that way before or since.

    I thought March was better than Spency Tracy in the 1940s film but you couldn't beat the women (Ingrid Bergman and Lana Turner) in the latter version. The ladies here were okay but no match for Bergman and Turner. The same can be said for the film as a whole. It was worth seeing, but not worth owning....more info
  • two very different movies
    This double feature gives you two of the best versions of Jekyll and Hyde. Although it's the same story the versions are very different. Frederic March's Dr. Jekyll is a high strung genius. He's impatient with his elders and with his future father in law in particular. Although it was made in the 30s the movie makes it clear in a tasteful way that Dr. Jekyll is going nuts from sexual frustration. When his fiancee goes on vacation with her father our hero spends his days and nights brooding in surly silence. It gets so bad that his butler tells him to go out and blow off some of his steam. Jekyll decides that now would be the perfect time to try that potion he's been working on and bam---out comes Hyde, a violent, mean and ugly creature. He's also going nuts from pent up desires but unlike Jekyll he goes out and does something about it. Miriam Hopkins plays Ivy, the dance hall girl and again although the movie never shows it, it's obvious that Hyde is thouroughly enjoying himself doing things to poor terrified Ivy that Jekyll would never dream of doing with pure, innocent Muriel.
    The Frederic March version is a morality play. Jekyll wants to be a rebel but lets Hyde do the dirty work. Eventually Hyde is too strong for him and to save lives and what's left of his soul Jekyll is left with one card to play. It's a brilliant film.

    The second movie on this double header is less successful. Spencer Tracy was a great actor but he's miscast here. His Dr. Jekyll is old enough to know better. He seems too sensible to do something as impulsive as coming up with the potion. His Hyde was closer to the book--Robert Louis Stevenson described Hyde as looking normal. He frightened people but not at first glance. The Tracy version is okay and has a few terrific scenes but the March version is the real reason to buy this video. ...more info
  • Two for one - excellent viewing
    This DVD gives a worthwhile opportunity to the viewer to compare the 1932 Paramount version of the famous story with the more controversial 1941 MGM version. Both are excellent in their way. When the later film was made, MGM purchased the earlier version and promptly buried it. It is surprising how close the scripts of the 2 films are for they offer quite different interpretations: in the early version, Hyde's motivation is definitely sexual but in the later version, it is more psychological.

    In 1931, Rouben Mamoulian bought his visual flair and mobile camera to the still fledgling talkies and created a dynamic and generally exciting interpretation. Fredric March starred in an Academy Award winning performance. Mamoulian's vision was Hyde as a Neanderthal man, a prehistoric beast with basic desires. The makeup, which contributes enormously to the violence of March's performance, makes him unrecognisable so he really does play 2 distinct roles. As Jekyll, March is a bit wet and hammy but as Hyde, he lets loose and is memorable. His motivation is definitely sexual as Jekyll is frustrated in celibacy by waiting 8 months for his marriage to occur. Miriam Hopkins plays the guttersnipe on whom Hyde unleashes his rage and she is superb, a revelation to those who know her for her artificial overacting in so many other films. You really feel her terror. Jekyll's fiancee is played by the believable but dull Rose Hobart.

    The 1941 version is a plush MGM product with Spencer Tracy in the lead. Tracy was uncomfortable with the role and his interpretation is more subtle than March and probably not as effective. His motivation is much more psychological, with more restrained makeup which makes Jekyll and Hyde more believeable as 2 sides of the one person. This in fact may be closer to Robert Louis Stevenson's original concept. Ingrid Bergman plays the Hopkin's part but she is miscast as a Cockney. Her class shines through and while she is touching and luminous, she is never really believable. Lana Turner plays Jekyll's fiancee. She is baby faced with a pout and a giggle, great looking but completely unconvincing as the object of affection of the mature Tracy.

    The 1931 version ran into major censorship issues both when it was in production and on its re-release and up to 14 minutes have been restored from the best available sources. The print is variable, sometimes crystal clear and other times grainy and dirty but at least the film is complete. Best of all, a first rate commentary has been included which really analyses the film with many direct quotes from the director. This is one of the best commentaries I have heard on a DVD and it covers, if briefly, the 1941 version as well as reference to John Barrymore's version from 1920. The 1941 print is almost perfect. Theatrical trailers for both films are also included.

    The final bonus is the inclusion of a funny Bugs Bunny cartoon lampooning the famous story - Bugs at his best....more info
  • Five Stars for the 1932 Version
    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.

    The earlier version is so technically dazzling, it's hard to believe it was filmed only a couple of years after the silent Lon Chaney classic, Phantom of the Opera. I've never seen an early 30's film that looked so crisp and sounded so good. And no review of this version should leave out the excellent and sexy performance of Miriam Hopkins. She's convincing as a love-starved hooker and even more convincing as the terrified victim of a depraved client. In many ways, her performance seems less theatrical, and therefore more contemporary, than March's.

    The Greg Mank commentary on the 1932 version is entertaining and informative, in a gossipy as well as scholarly style. Through his commentary, you find out things about the film and crew that really do add to your insight and enjoyment of the film. There is no commentary on the 1941 version, but Mank does disciss it a little (in too forgiving a way, I think) near the close of the 1932 version. Overall, I think this is a great collector's DVD, and will be one of the most treasured in my collection....more info

  • Good for English class
    I teach English 1 to high school freshman. After letting three classes view both the 1932 and the 1941 version, the kids overwelmingly agreed the 1932 version was better. They couldn't really see a difference in appearance between Jekyll and Hyde in the 1941 version. And, being able to really see when the doctor was Jekyll and when he was Hyde helped them "get" the story better. The 1941 version also moves a bit more slowly.
    There is also a Bugs Bunny short "Hyde and Hare" that my kids really enjoyed. It was a nice 5 minute recap of the story for them. Of course, it was also important to point out that though both movies had an Ivy character, the book did not... ...more info
  • Must have 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....more info
  • Classic horror
    In recent months, I have watched a lot of the old 1930s Universal monster movies. Some are true classics, probably none more so than Frankenstein, Bride of Frankenstein, the Mummy and the Invisible Man. Many of the others are pretty good as well. Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, produced by rival studio Paramount, rivals the best of Universal, and may even be better.

    The story is so familiar that Jekyll and Hyde have become part of our language. Frederic March plays the good doctor who, in the pursuit of knowledge, isolated his dark side and soon loses control of it. What makes this movie so good is that March's Hyde is genuinely monstrous in a way that the Universal monsters rarely approach. It is little wonder that March won the Oscar for his performance.

    The movie itself is almost flawless, with excellent direction and good effects. There is also a good commentary track and as a bonus, a Bugs Bunny cartoon that offers its own take on Jekyll and Hyde.

    The flip side of the DVD provides a remake of the movie. It features big-name actors (Spencer Tracy, Ingrid Bergman and Lana Turner), a big-name director (Victor Fleming of Gone With The Wind fame) and lavish sets. Yet with all this going for it, it is a dull movie, a lifeless version of the March version.

    Nonetheless, this gets five start because of the older movie. The other version is a high two star effort that only makes you appreciate the first movie more. If you are fond of these sorts of movies, this is a must-see. Even if you aren't, I highly recommend this movie....more info
  • Great Package
    These two films back to back are awesome.
    The Films are very similar structurally, but in terms of delivery, March is more visceral, and Tracey is very polished.
    Both films are scarey, and the contrast to the more recent depictions in the League, and Van Helsing is stark, but importantly shows that the myth of this dichotomy serves a purpose defined by its context, and is not limited by people's lack of imagination ... the fact that it serves different purposes in different hands shows the power of myths. In fact, the films, if watched from a cultural context point of view, says more about the 1930s and 1940s milieu ....more info
  • Classic tale of good and evil
    I enjoyed the 1932 version of the classic with Frederick March much better than the 1941 version (Spencer Tracy). The film, which is based on the Robert Louis Stevenson classic, serves to depict the duality of both good and evil in Man. Dr. Jekyll, who believes that all individuals possess both good and evil qualities, wants to prove to others that those two qualities can be separated. He finds that he really has two lives, the good-natured and respectable Dr. Jekyll, and the evil and sinister Mr. Hyde. Before long, he has trouble separating the two, and Hyde begins to take over.

    As one reviewer noted, perhaps one of the more refreshing aspects of the 1932 version seems to capture is the essence of Hyde being a "monster" in not only physical form, but psychologically as well. Frederick March's portrayal depicts the sinister forces of want, as he leads the beautiful Ivy into a terrifying relationship. Tracy's Hyde does not capture this quite as well.

    This is really an exceptional DVD in that that are two versions of this classic. There are also a few extras that make this a worthwhile buy.

    ...more info
  • Two very different versions of the same story
    Adapted more from the 19th century stage play than Robert Louis Stevenson's novella, "Dr Jekyll & Mr. Hyde" play very differently with strikingly different results. Both are marvelous in their own individual way. Rouben Mamoulian's classic 1932 film features a stunning performance from Frederic March as Dr. Jekyll. March plays Jekyll in the 1932 film and Spencer Tracy plays the same role in the 1941 version. In both Jekyll discovers an elixir that unleases the animal within. This alternate personality takes the name of Mr. Hyde and commits all the violent crimes that Jekyll might want to do but wouldn't including murder.

    The use of filters in front of the camera to do a continuous take for much of the transformation was a brilliant idea. As each filter was removed more of the make up is revealed. Although the final bit of transformation doesn't occur this way it makes Mamoulian's film more convincing than many others from the time that editing for the transformations. Tracy's transformation is much more dependent on his abilties as an actor and less on the make up. Both actors give solid performances in their respective films but March's (which won an Academy Award)certainly is the more reflective and powerful of the two particularly when it comes to becoming Hyde.

    March's film is about the lumbering, primative beast within while Spencer Tracy's performance focuses much more on the psychological changes vs. physical ones that occur to Jekyll when he becomes Hyde. The Tiffany studio MGM provides a nice budget, exceptional production design and name actors for their film version. While Tracy does an admirable job as Jekyll his much more subtle take on Hyde doesn't work as well as March's on screen. Evidently Tracy's take on the character was that the potion could be no more than a placebo--all it does is give Jekyll permission to strip away the veneer of civiliation that hides the monster within. Neither Ivy nor the fiance were in the original novel (that I can recall)but their introduction actually adds considerable drama and gives the character Jekyll clearer movitations for many of his actions.

    The cinematography for both films is exceptional given the era they were made in. The original negatives for both films are long gone (they were shot on nitrate stock which shrinks and falls apart after a couple of decades). The prints used here are about the best that can be found (much of the issues with the 1932 version mentioned in another review, i.e., how the version shown on PBS looked superior to the DVD version has more to do with the unforgiving clarity of DVD than anything else. The 1932 film does have quite a few analog defects due to the passage of time and the condition of the print this version was drawn from as well. Likewise, the 1941 film although it looks sharper than the 1932 film. The sound for the 1932 film has a bit more presence than the videotape version (it may have been compressed a bit more to make it sound louder)but it has the inherent flaws of any of the early talkies. The 1941 film sounds better with less flaws.

    The commentary track film historian Greg Mank is both informative and rich with background on the time the film was made, the actors, the studio and the difficulties that Ramoulian ran into during production (including the fact that the studio insisted on someone other than Fredric March). We also get a classic Looney Tunes cartoon that fits the double bill perfectly. "Hyde and Hare" (which is also now available on the second "Looney Tunes Golden Collection") looks quite good as well.

    ...more info
  • 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! The '41 version always was a top example of MGM gloss and still is. Filmmakers from the beginning - there's a 1911 version on dvd now - realized that RL Stevenson's story could never be faithfully told as he wrote it. Why? Because he wrote a mystery: what is this relationship between Jekyll and Hyde? He does a great job of letting readers imagine a sordid relationship between the two men - blackmail or sex? The surprise ending that the two men were one and the same became too well known to be faithfully depicted. Instead, filmmakers turned the story into a cat and mouse game with the viewer as a de facto accomplice of J/H.

    That said, these two sound film versions take different approaches to the story and it's really a case of comparing apples to oranges to say one is better than the other. I think that Stevenson himself would have preferred the 1941 version if only because it captured the staid Victorian mindset of the British upper class that he depicted in his novel. Likewise, Spencer Tracy's characterization of Hyde as a master rather than a monster of psychological torture is a great idea. Not necessarily better, but an interesting alternate approach. Fredric March knew he was walking in John Barrymore's footsteps from the 1920 version so his monstrous appearance was probably a given under the circumstances.

    One last point worth mentioning: Both versions have a major gap in logic in the final scene. We understand why Hyde would seek to escape the consequences of his murdering two people, but when Jekyll is restored in the final scene, how strange that he continues the cover up, refusing Dr. Lanyon's request to tell the police the truth. If you think about it, this action is totally at odds with Jekyll's character. The problem was addresed better in Barrymore's 1920 version: before Hyde takes over again, Jekyll swallows poison to stop Hyde's further atrocities. Good man, that Henry Jekyll!...more info

  • 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 American actor of the 1940-1960 era. But, unlike the other reviewers I much preferred the Tracy version of the story. First, while some of the technical flaws of the Frederick March version may be due to film degradation, it is also clear that sound recording in the 1932 version was far more primitive, something you'll especially notice in scenes where there is movement across a large set. By 1941, not only had the sound recording improved substantially, but the visual aspect of film had also evolved.

    But, my preference for the later Tracy version goes beyond that. To me the more subtle characterization of Hyde by Tracy captures the reality of the evil side of real people. March's transformation is excessive, more like one would expect from a horror movie, while Tracy seems to be saying that the average man is not grossly different at his best or worst, that it takes little to tip the scales. In particular, the final scene with Lana Turner, you know he is transforming from lover to murderer without ever seeing his face.

    It's remarkable how very similar the scripts are for both versions, so I suggest watching them in chronological order. While I prefer the Tracy version, I appreciated the opportunity to see and compare the two. And, BTW, you will notice that it would seem more logical for the female leads in the Tracy version to be reversed, but both Lana Turner and Ingrid Bergman turn in fine performances, as opposed to Miriam Hopkins (1932) whose performance is a bit over the top....more info

  • Frederick March- the definitive telling?
    For many, Frederick March's "Jekyll & Hyde" is the best adaptation of the story. March was known for light comedies (can you imagine Ben Stiller as 'Jekyll & Hyde' today?), and his being selected to play a "horror role" was unusual. But he pulls it off very well, in no small part due to the neanderthal-ish makeup he wears. Notice how as the story progresses, he gets uglier and uglier. The biggest problem with taking Stevenson's story and putting it on the big screen is the story's ending. Hyde commits suicide out of sight of everyone, locked in Jekyll's lab. Needless to say, this ending often gets chucked out the window (only time I've seen it end that way was in "Mary Reilly"). I think to this day March is the only actor to get an Oscar for a horror role. Greg Mank's commentary is superb. I've met the man, and he is a true lover of the genre.

    Spencer Tracey is one of my favorite actors. Let's just say he was miscast in the role here. ...more info