Hello again, Groovy Ghoulies! 1931 was a great year to be a blooming horror fan as many terrors were unleashed on the scream…I mean screen. One of them was Paramount Picture’s “Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde”. It was based on the 1886 novel “The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde” and also incorporated elements of the 1887 stage play. Once again, Hollywood at the time was relying heavily on stage adaptions for this silver screen offerings.
Honestly, I didn’t have much knowledge of Jekyll and Hyde going into this. I knew a Mr. Hyde from Marvel comics, and that was a much different villain. The only screen Hyde I remember comes from “Abbott and Costello Meet Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde”. But, that’s for a different article. So, I jumped in with both feet.
For those unfamiliar with the story, Dr. Henry Jekyll (what is it with doctors named Henry in these movies?) believes one can separate the good and evil in people. He’s created a serum that will release the evil side of yourself. And like any doctor in this situation, tries the serum on himself. He goes on a rampage through London drinking, fighting, and becoming entranced by the prostitute, Ivy.
This is a problem as Henry is engaged to Muriel. Soon, The Doctor turns into Hyde without the Serum and things get worse as Mr. Hyde murders! It comes down to a confrontation in Henry’s lab and like most of these movies, it doesn’t turn out well.
I liked this movie. I loved Dr. Jekyll’s lab. If I was a mad doctor, which I am not contrary to popular belief, this is the lab I would have. It reminded me of some of Dr. Frankenstein’s labs in the Hammer Horror classics years later.
The cast is great! Frederic March plays Dr. Jekyll very conservative and Mr. Hyde with such gusto that it’s hard to believe the same person is playing both characters. When he becomes Hyde for the first time, and stretches as if he is coming to life after a long sleep, I felt the same amount of energy. The two female characters were also portrayed well. Miriam Hopkins played the Prostitute Ivy Pearson who falls under the madness of Mr. Hyde. I thought she was feisty, and a lot of fun to enjoy on the screen. She later auditioned for the part of Scarlett O’Hara but the role ended going to Vivian Leigh. Rose Hubart played Dr. Jekyll’s fiance Muriel Carew. She was stunning in this picture, and her eyes seemed to twinkle in every scene. No wonder the good doctor was in love with her.
The special effects for the transformation scenes were really good for their time, and I wondered how they were able to have Jekyll transform without appearing to edit anything. Well, they used a make-up process that was layered on March’s face in layers and then when different filters were removed from the camera lens, he appeared to transform before our eyes!
I remember seeing a picture of March as Mr. Hyde in Famous Monsters magazine when I was a younger kid, and I thought he looked cool and scary!
Frederic March tied to win the best actor role for this film, tying with Wallace Beery for “The Champ”. Great film to check out!
I was wondering what Jekyll and Hyde toys there were out there. The first thing I found I thought would be a good match for this. There was a company in the ’60s named Aurora who did models you could put together and paint yourself. Being a monster kid of the ’70s, I didn’t see many growing up but I am envious of those with these models, they are gorgeous! They did a Dr. Jekylll and Mr. Hyde one in 1964 and you can find more information and pictures here:
That’s going to do it for now, my Ghoulies! If you’d like to leave me comments, questions, or just to say hi, drop me a line at: Starwarzed@hotmail.com. Looking forward to talking with you! Until next time, remember to watch the skies!