innocent_man: (mouseketeer)
[personal profile] innocent_man
Dr. Jekyll & Mr. Hyde is, of course, one of the many movie adaptations of Robert Louis Stevenson's novel. I have not actually read the novel (though I did see the musical), so I'm not familiar with the storyline. However, a quick perusal of the Wiki indicates that the movie is, shall we say, not so faithful to the story.

Spencer Tracy plays Jekyll/Hyde. In this story, he's a young doctor engaged to a beautiful socialite (Lana Turner), and seeks to understand the nature of the soul. He believes that people can be spiritually displaced by a shock, throwing good and evil out of balance. On his way home with his friend Dr. Lanyon (Ian Hunter), he sees a young woman being assaulted. He helps the girl, Ivy (Ingrid Bergman) home, and they share a kiss. Dr. Lanyon points out later that this may have a triumph of Jekyll's evil side.

Jekyll brews the forumla that we're all familiar with and changes into Hyde. He goes to the pub where Ivy works, starts a brawl just for the fuck of it, has her fired, and then moves her into a flat and keeps her, abused and degraded, for an indeterminate amount of time. During this, we assume, he doesn't revert to being Jekyll, but he does change back when his fiancee returns home from Europe. Ivy comes to see him as a patient, and he promises her that Hyde will never trouble her again, but later he reverts to Hyde and murders her. He then goes on a wee rampage, finally winding up getting shot dead in his lab as his butler recites the Psalm 23.

Spencer Tracy apparently hated his performance here, and I think he was maybe a little too old for the role, and definitely too American (but that's hardly the last time we'll see an American playing a Brit without bother to even try to sound like one). I think that the story of the novel would have been more interesting than this, though I do think that some of the transformation effects were interesting, especially for the time. The idea that Ivy and Fiancee (sorry, um...Beatrix, that's right) are the urges that are driving him toward good or evil also made for some interesting cinematography, though the idea that Ivy is in any way "evil" is kind of offensively laughable.

I'd be interested to see a different, less sanitized version of the movie, I think.

My Grade: C+
Rewatch value: Low

Next up: Dragnet

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