fbpx

DR. JEKYLL AND MR. HYDE

Director: ROUBEN MAMOULIAN

U.S.A. • 1931 • BLACK AND WHITE • 35MM • 98 MIN


RE-RELEASED IN A SPLENDID NEW PRINT, ROUBEN MAMOULIAN’S VERSION OF THE ROBERT LOUIS STEVENSON TALE IS NO CREAKY OLD RELIC BUT A MARVELLOUSLY CINEMATIC, POTENTLY ADULT STORY OF UNCONSCIOUS DESIRE RUN RIOT.
Right from the eye-catching opener, where the subjective camera whisks Fredric March’s Dr. Jekyll through all sorts of trickery, you’d hardly guess this was a film dating from 1931. A significant date though, because it’s before Hollywood’s Production Code essentially neutered what could and couldn’t be shown on screen — restrictions imposed in response to the sort of surprisingly upfront sensuality suggested here. Jekyll’s experiments aim to separate the soul and the body to reap the medical benefits, but the simmering subtext is that he’s desperate to get married to his fiancee but being thwarted by her dull stick of a dad. So, after a fateful glug of his revolutionary serum, his transformation into Mr. Hyde opens up a whole world of vice previously off-limits to the respectable medic.
While the make-up work is impressive for its day (not to mention the in-camera effects which show the potion’s effects without cutting away), it’s the brilliant performances which bring this timeless drama to life. As Jekyll, March suggests a man chafing at the bonds of social conformity; as Hyde, his first response is outright glee — his initial cry of ‘Freeee!’ is a golden moment — and it’s only later we see the dark side of behaviour without moral parameters. Miriam Hopkins as the prostitute who links the two alter-egos is a revelation, sexy and really very touching. This is a Hollywood classic that’s more than worthy of the description. — Trevor Johnston.

Book Tickets

}