Thursday, February 11, 2010

Dr. Jeckyll and Mr. Hyde (1931)

In this retelling of the classic tale, a scientist attempts to rid of himself of his darker half through a special elixir, but in doing so he unleashes the beast within him, who then runs amuck in the streets of London. Mamoulian's rendition is generally the most well-received film version of the original novel, which is not surprising as it offers the most memorable make-up designs and the most energetic (if not exaggerated) acting. Were it not for the staged, theatrical performances, this would be a near-perfect Gothic Horror entry. Fredric March is charming and charismatic in the role of Dr. Jeckyll, with a lust for knowledge and purely good intentions in his attempts to separate himself from his baser instincts. His transformation into the sinister, simian Mr. Hyde is a dramatic reversal in both looks and personality that genuinely feels like March has become two separate and distinct personas. The film offers many innovative advances in the camera techniques and make-up work, with crude but effective lapse dissolves during the transformation scenes and one of the earlier uses of first-person perspective. The most provocative scene of the film comes during Hyde's torment of the prostitute Ivy, which becomes almost unbearable to watch in its cruelness and uncomfortability, but also awakens a convincing terror in Miriam Hopkins' performance. This is the defining version of the Stevenson novel, and a must-see for genre fans.

Rating: 9/10.
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2 comments:

  1. I want to see this version. Bad me for not having done so already!

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  2. I want you to as well, it is well worth the effort!

    ReplyDelete