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Badmovies.org Forum  |  Movies  |  Good Movies  |  Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde (1931) « previous next »
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Author Topic: Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde (1931)  (Read 1712 times)
akiratubo
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« on: February 05, 2011, 01:56:49 AM »

This movie is good overall but something of a mixed bag.

Dr. Jekyll and his fiancee, Muriel, desperately want to get married but his future father-in-law, General Carew (ret), refuses to grant his permission for Jekyll to marry his daughter.  Why?  Mostly, he's just a selfish jerk.  On the other hand, Jekyll does have an ego problem and sees little value in fitting into "polite" society, even though he's a wealthy doctor in Victorian England.  Carew thinks that Jekyll, not being a "proper" gentleman, might not be faithful to Muriel.  Carew decides a little time apart would be a good test of Jekyll's devotion to Muriel, so he departs with his daughter to Bath.

Now, around this time, Jekyll makes the acquaintance of a prostitute named Ivy.  More specifically, he saves her from a man - probably a John - who was accosting her on the street.  He takes her home and she, grateful and knowing no other way to express it, offers him a quickie.  Jekyll seems to consider it very carefully.  In fact, if not for his friend, Dr. Lanyon, getting impatient and interrupting them, Jekyll probably would have gone for it.  Hmm, maybe Carew's mistrust of Jekyll is not so ill-founded after all.

A scene or two later, Jekyll receives word that Carew has decided to extend his stay in Bath, meaning he won't get to see Muriel for another month, at least.  Jekyll has been one horny bastard ever since that night with Ivy and he's not sure he can handle that.  What to do?  Well, he could complete that chemical concoction he's been working on, that he believes will physically separate the evil from a man's soul so that it may be discarded.  He wouldn't want to cheat on Muriel if he threw away the evil part of himself, would he?  Heck, no!  Jekyll makes his potion, drinks it, and ...

Turns into a baboon-faced man, Mr. Hyde.  Not exactly what he'd hoped to accomplish!  Hyde, like Jekyll, is one horny bastard.  Unlike Jekyll, Hyde cares for little more than immediately fulfilling his base desires, so he goes off to find Ivy and hump her until he's shooting fumes.  He does find her but, understandably, she's not too interested in an overtly menacing man with the face of a baboon, so he has to hold her prisoner in her own apartment, beat her, and rape her.  For a whole month, at least.

Sometime near the end of that month, Hyde remembers that Carew and Muriel are returning home and that he should become Jekyll again to deal with it.  Once Jekyll is back to himself, he is horrified by the memories of what Hyde did to Ivy.  To make up for it, he sends his butler to deliver 50 quid to the poor woman.  50 quid.  Her suffering at his hands was worth approximately 1.67 pounds a day.  I realize 50 pounds went pretty far in the 1800s but still.  Jekyll, you gigantic cock.  Anyway, the end result of Jekyll's "generosity" is that Ivy remembers him as the man who saved her from the abusive John and goes to his house to seek his help with Hyde.  Jekyll rather lamely promises that Hyde won't be back and Ivy leaves, satisfied that Jekyll will protect her.

After that, Jekyll goes to apologize to Muriel for not returning her letters (it's not like Hyde cared enough to read them, you know) and renew his wedding proposal.  She accepts, even though General Carew isn't happy about it.  He agrees to throw a party for them.

Jekyll never makes it to the party.  Jekyll gets upset when he sees a cat kill a baby bird in its nest and becomes Hyde again.  Hyde promptly goes to Ivy's flat and strangles her to death while speaking softly and reassuringly to her.  (This scene is by far one of the most disturbing murder scenes I've ever witnessed in a movie.)  There were witnesses who recognized Hyde as the killer, though, so he flees back to Jekyll's place so he can quaff some potion and "hide" by becoming Jekyll again - but Jekyll threw away the key to the back door and the butler, not recognizing Hyde, won't let him in the front.  Hyde is forced to go to Lanyon for help.  He pretends to be a friend of Jekyll and asks him to get the potion from Jekyll's place.  Lanyon complies but won't let Hyde leave with it.  He will only hand it over to Jekyll himself.  So Hyde, apparently just to screw with Lanyon (and Jekyll even moreso), decides to take the potion and turn back to Jekyll in front of Lanyon.

Jekyll, pretty morose now, apparently decides to commit suicide.  He goes to Muriel to tell her to forget him.  This is very upsetting for the doctor and we know what happens when he gets upset, right?  Jekyll turns into Hyde, tries to rape Muriel, and kills General Carew when he intervenes.  Lanyon, apparently having been called in to pronounce Carew, says he knows who the killer must be and leads them to Jekyll's place.  Hyde has reverted to Jekyll by the time they get there but the stress of being accused by his friend turns him into Hyde one last time.  He fights with the police and is gunned down.

The lighting and camera work are excellent for any era and shockingly dynamic and fluid for the 1930s.  The audio recording, on the other hand, is very "1930s" in a bad way but I don't hold that against the movie.  What else could anyone do with the primitive equipment available at the time?  (At times, dialogue is mixed at wildly uneven levels but that may just be the print I saw.)

Halliwell Hobbes, Holmes Herbert, and Rose Hobart, make a fine supporting cast as General Carew, Dr. Lanyon, and Muriel, respectively.  However, they are completely dominated by the two leads.

It is, unquestionably, Miriam Hopkins who makes the movie.  She does real acting here, people.  Her performance is not at all what anyone thinks of when they imagine movies from the 1930s.  Ivy lives and breathes on screen thanks to Hopkins.  We really feel everything Hyde does to her.  The tiniest look on her face is all we need to understand the hell he has put her through.  Ivy's death hit me as hard as any screen death I've ever seen, all because of the extraordinary quality of Miriam Hopkins' performance.

Frederic March does a good job with Jekyll, only slipping a few times into the broad overacting one expects of early 1930s actors.  However, as Hyde, he is forced to contend with the ridiculous baboon-face the makeup people slathered on him.  That he gets any acting done through it at all is a testament to his ability, I suppose.  That baboon face goes quite a way to nearly ruining the entire movie, in fact.  For one thing, it's completely unnecessary.  Hyde's behavior alone is enough to make him a monster, there was no need to literally turn him into one.  Hyde is so hideously, fearsomely ugly, people should have been fleeing from him as he walked down the street, not making jovial small talk with him in bars!  That hardly anyone even seems to notice, for example, his huge, wolf-like teeth almost makes this an idiot picture.  (Watch the 1920 Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde with John Barrymore to see exactly how wrong they got Hyde's appearance here.  In the 1920 movie, Barrymore's makeup was much more subtle yet his Hyde was much more frightening to look at than 1931's absurd baboon-creature.)

Aside from the baboon-face makeup, the biggest flaw of the 1931 Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde is that Jekyll simply isn't very sympathetic, even though the movie seems to think he is.  After spending a couple of scenes trying to convince Carew that he really does love Muriel, he almost has a quickie with a prostitute!  Then he goes and does something incredibly stupid that unleashes a monster that rapes and kills - all because he was horny!  (And I just have to say it again: 50 quid.  Jekyll, you GIGANTIC COCK!)

On the whole though, I liked this movie.  The most sympathetic character is an alcoholic prostitute.  The bulk of the movie is taken up with scenes of that sympathetic character being tortured and raped by a baboon-man.  Then the movie hits us with that sympathetic character's shocking and highly upsetting death.  This is a movie with balls!  This is movie that is most definitely not "safe""!

I would rate the '31 Jekyll and Hyde slightly below the 1920 silent version and significantly higher than the grossly overrated 1941 version with Spencer Tracy.
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RCMerchant
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« Reply #1 on: February 05, 2011, 04:49:52 AM »

I find this version to be the best. You are right-Jekyll seems to be a cocky SOB-but once he falls into a life of perversion-I start to fell sorry for him. And Fredric March's performance is one of the most amazing things I have ever seen in ANY film. I cannot-for the life of me-see The matinee idol persona of March in his twisted,sick Hyde. Worthy of the Acadamy award that he won! And Miram Hopkins as the tortured prostitute should have won an award as well-the Spencer Tracy version was watered down garbage-and the Barrymore version-sorry folks-was overacted to the point of comedy in some scences.
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The Burgomaster
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« Reply #2 on: February 05, 2011, 08:40:54 AM »

I notice you didn't mention Andy Milligan's THE MAN WITH TWO HEADS . . .
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akiratubo
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« Reply #3 on: February 05, 2011, 11:43:03 AM »

the Barrymore version-sorry folks-was overacted to the point of comedy in some scenes.

For my money, Barrymore's performance as Jekyll and Hyde still blows every subsequent version off the face of the earth.  I think the 1920 version just works a little better on its own terms than the 1931 one.

I notice you didn't mention Andy Milligan's THE MAN WITH TWO HEADS . . .

Haven't seen it.  Actually, I've never even heard of it.  I would like to see Murnau's The Janus Head but that's never going to happen.
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lester1/2jr
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« Reply #4 on: February 05, 2011, 12:27:59 PM »

I liked this and remember being impressed with his brutal sexuality towards Ivy. Champagne Ivy is me naaaame!
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Umaril The Unfeathered
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« Reply #5 on: February 05, 2011, 01:09:12 PM »

I find this version to be the best. You are right-Jekyll seems to be a cocky SOB-but once he falls into a life of perversion-I start to fell sorry for him. And Fredric March's performance is one of the most amazing things I have ever seen in ANY film.

You won the $64,000, RC.  The Fredrich March version is my absolute favorite.  March really hams it up and goes to town. My favorote scene is when kidnapped Miriam Hopkins tries to escape up the steps, and March jumps up and over the bannister to beat her to the door, and then jumps down to stop her when she tries to go another way. And that evil giggle when he did it..when the double feature disc came out a while back, I gladly depleted our now gone Suncoast Video of a copy.  Smile

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Tam-Riel na nou Sancremath.
Dawn's Beauty is our shining home.

An varlais, nou bala, an kynd, nou latta.
The stars are our power, the sky is our light.

Malatu na nou karan.
Truth is our armor.

Malatu na bala
Truth is power.

Heca, Pellani! Agabaiyane Ehlnadaya!
Be gone, outsiders! I do not fear your mortal gods!

Auri-El na nou ata, ye A, Umaril, an Aran!
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« Reply #6 on: February 05, 2011, 06:10:55 PM »

I like the FREDRIC MARCH version best.  SPENCER TRACY's version is hot sliced ham, with INGRID BERGMAN being its only redeeming factor.  DAN CURTIS produced a version for TV in 1967 starring JACK PALANCE which was pretty good. 
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Umaril The Unfeathered
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« Reply #7 on: February 05, 2011, 09:31:40 PM »

I like the FREDRIC MARCH version best.  SPENCER TRACY's version is hot sliced ham, with INGRID BERGMAN being its only redeeming factor.  DAN CURTIS produced a version for TV in 1967 starring JACK PALANCE which was pretty good. 

Yeah, Curtis was a busy guy back in the 60's and 70's. He made a nice version of The Picture Of Dorian Gray wth some of the Dark Shadows actors he worked with when he produced that show, as well as making the classic TV scarefest Trilogy Of Terror.  I think he had a hand in the remake of the Dark Shadows series in the 1990's as well. 
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Tam-Riel na nou Sancremath.
Dawn's Beauty is our shining home.

An varlais, nou bala, an kynd, nou latta.
The stars are our power, the sky is our light.

Malatu na nou karan.
Truth is our armor.

Malatu na bala
Truth is power.

Heca, Pellani! Agabaiyane Ehlnadaya!
Be gone, outsiders! I do not fear your mortal gods!

Auri-El na nou ata, ye A, Umaril, an Aran!
Aure-El is our father, and I, Umaril, the king!
Raffine
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« Reply #8 on: February 05, 2011, 09:57:09 PM »

Yeah, Curtis was a busy guy back in the 60's and 70's. He made a nice version of The Picture
Quote
Of Dorian Gray wth some of the Dark Shadows actors he worked with when he produced that show, as well as making the classic TV scarefest Trilogy Of Terror.  I think he had a hand in the remake of the Dark Shadows series in the 1990's as well. 


...and  Curtis' excellent the NIGHT STALKER movies and series and the two DARK SHADOWS movies.

Curtis also made a TV movie/series pilot titled THE NORLISS TAPES - which was sort of a darker version of THE NIGHT STALKER. I saw this for the first time recently as was impressed. The zombie/vampire was really creepily effective. This would have scared the crap out of me if I'd seen it back in 1973.

I know I was always thrilled to see a promo for the new 'Dan Curtis Production'!  Thumbup
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Umaril The Unfeathered
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« Reply #9 on: February 05, 2011, 10:35:13 PM »

Yeah, Curtis was a busy guy back in the 60's and 70's. He made a nice version of The Picture
Quote
Of Dorian Gray wth some of the Dark Shadows actors he worked with when he produced that show, as well as making the classic TV scarefest Trilogy Of Terror.  I think he had a hand in the remake of the Dark Shadows series in the 1990's as well. 


...and  Curtis' excellent the NIGHT STALKER movies and series and the two DARK SHADOWS movies.

Curtis also made a TV movie/series pilot titled THE NORLISS TAPES - which was sort of a darker version of THE NIGHT STALKER. I saw this for the first time recently as was impressed. The zombie/vampire was really creepily effective. This would have scared the crap out of me if I'd seen it back in 1973.

I know I was always thrilled to see a promo for the new 'Dan Curtis Production'!  Thumbup

I forgot about The Norliss Tapes. That had monster kind of guy looking for his creator or something like that.  I thnik Roy Thinnes was in that one. I remember him from The Invaders.

And how could I forget the two Dark Shadows movies? I must be slipping.

One thing I know I'll never forget the one scene in Night Of Dark Shadows where back in the 1700's, David Selby's character, Quentin, was caught making out with Angelique (Lara Parker) when Quentin's brother walked into the drawing room.

There was a quick shot of Lara Parker with her gown hanging off her shoulders, practically topless, with all that blonde hair of hers strewn about, and I was thinking to myself, what a lucky bastard David Selby was to be doing that with her... hot
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Tam-Riel na nou Sancremath.
Dawn's Beauty is our shining home.

An varlais, nou bala, an kynd, nou latta.
The stars are our power, the sky is our light.

Malatu na nou karan.
Truth is our armor.

Malatu na bala
Truth is power.

Heca, Pellani! Agabaiyane Ehlnadaya!
Be gone, outsiders! I do not fear your mortal gods!

Auri-El na nou ata, ye A, Umaril, an Aran!
Aure-El is our father, and I, Umaril, the king!
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« Reply #10 on: February 06, 2011, 04:46:09 PM »

Hey this is supposed to be about DR. JEKYLL AND MR. HYDE...  Wink

I write on this forum all the time 'bout DAN CURTIS, and THE NORLISS TAPES, a favorite, is available in its entirety on YouTube (just watched it a few months ago...) 

Small | Large

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« Reply #11 on: February 20, 2011, 04:31:21 PM »

Seen the film. Read the book. Liked the book. Disliked the film. I don't know what it is, but while I've seen several film versions of the book, the only one that I liked was the 1980 made-for-TV version with David Hemmings in the dual role of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde.

Frederic March would win an Oscar for Best Actor for his performance in the film. Actually, two Oscars for Best Actor would be given that year, as he tied with Wallace Beery, who also won a Best Actor Oscar for his performance in "The Champ."
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Hammock Rider
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« Reply #12 on: February 21, 2011, 11:56:19 AM »

I've never gotten around to seeing this version but it sounds like it belongs in my Netflix queue.

  I recently watched the Hammer version, The Two Faces of Dr. Jekyll with Paul Massie. It's a bit different because Hyde is presented as being plenty evil, but very debonair in appearance. That puts a nice interesting twist on it.
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« Reply #13 on: February 23, 2011, 01:17:29 PM »

I prefer the musical version:

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« Reply #14 on: February 24, 2011, 08:04:35 AM »

I like nearly all he different versions for different reasons but I do feel the Fredric March version is the best as well. Just the version that seems to pull the least punches. Actually Abbott and Costello Meet Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde I also consider one the better versions believe it or not.
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