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Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde (1941)

Rating:No Rating
Genre:Drama, Horror
Release Date:August 12, 1941
Running time:127 minutes
Cast:Spencer Tracy, Ingrid Bergman, Lana Turner, Donald Crisp, Ian Hunter
Director:Victor Fleming
Producer:Victor Fleming
Writer:John Lee Mahin
Distributor:MGM

Description: 1941's Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde is the second sound version of the Robert Louis Stevenson doppelganger tale. This time Spencer Tracy plays the benevolent Dr. Jekyll, whose experiments in releasing the evil impulses within himself transform him into the bestial Mr. Hyde. The problem here is that while Tracy is convincing enough as Hyde, we have trouble accepting him as the kindly Jekyll--exactly the opposite of the 1931 version, in which Fredric March was credible as both Jekyll and Hyde (in fairness to Tracy, it must be noted that he didn't want to play the role and had to be forced into it). MGM decreed that no publicity pictures be released showing Tracy in his Hyde makeup, thereby building up audience anticipation. It's just as well that MGM kept these pictures under wraps: Tracy's Hyde looks less like the Living Personification of Evil than like a man who's been on a three-day bender. The most fascinating aspect of this version of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde is the casting of the two leading ladies. Ever since the 1920 John Barrymore version of this story, it has been de rigeur to symbolize the schism between Jekyll and Hyde by giving him both a good and evil girlfriend. Originally, MGM adhered to typecasting by assigning the good girl to Ingrid Bergman and the bad one to Lana Turner. But Bergman begged the studio to be allowed to play the more wicked of the two ladies; as a result, hers is by far the best performance in the picture. Neither as lively as the 1920 version nor as innovative as the 1931 remake, MGM's Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde is weighted down with tiresome dialogue and over-obvious symbolism (catch that dream sequence in which Ingrid Bergman and Lana Turner make like racehorses!) Despite its shortcomings, Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde was infinitely preferable to the next remake, Abbott and Costello Meet Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde (1953).~ Hal Erickson, All Movie Guide

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