"Gentlemen, London is so full of fog, that it has penetrated our minds, set boundaries for our vision. As men of science, we should be curious, and bold enough to peer beyond it, into the many wonders it conceals. I shall not dwell today on the secrets of the human body, in sickness or in health. No. Today, I wish to talk to you of a greater marvel- the soul of man. My analysis of this soul, the human psyche, leads me to believe that man is not truly one, but truly two. One of him strives for the nobilities of life. This we call his good self. And the other... seeks an expression of impulses that bind him to some dim, animal relation with the Earth. This we may call the bad. These two carry on an eternal struggle in the nature of man. Yet, they are chained together. And that chain spells repression to the evil, remorse to the good. Now, if these two selves could be separated from each other, how much freer the good in us would be? What heights it might scale? And the so-called evil, once liberated, would fulfil itself and trouble us no more. I believe the time is not far off when this separation will be possible. In my experiments, I have found that certain chemicals have the power, and the capacity..."Written by Robert Louis Stevenson from the contents of a nightmare that he had during a tuberculosis fever, "The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde" has fascinated and frightened readers, theatre-goers, and television viewers for more than a century. From the silent-film performance of John Barrymore in 1920 to John Malkovich's portrayal as supporting character(s) to Julia Roberts' housemaid in Mary Reilly (1995), movie and television producers have utilised Stevenson's mini-novel (novella), interpreting it in different yet always interesting ways, to depict the horror of an English scientist's chemically induced split personality.
Stevenson's unusual novella consisted of an assembling of various experiences told from the point of view of Dr. Henry Jekyll's associates. Jekyll's friend, a solicitor named Utterson, probes the mystery surrounding the esteemed, wealthy Doctor's seedy and violent new assistant, house-guest, and "benefactor", a Mr. Edward Hyde. Jekyll has willed his entire estate to Hyde, in the event of Jekyll's death or disappearance- and Utterson is staggered at this most irregular bequest.
First, Utterson is told by a friend named Enfield, in first-person narrative, about Enfield's encounter with a "damned juggernaut" who trampled a young girl and then tried to dissuade the protesting onlookers from calling for the police by giving to Enfield a signed monetary check, from Jekyll's bank account. Utterson then describes his impressions of Jekyll, who oddly alternated from joviality to despair and sickly self-confinement. After a man of high social standing, Sir Danvers Carew, is murdered by Hyde, Utterson is confounded by Jekyll's seeming compliance with Hyde's apparent blackmail of Jekyll to supposedly allow Hyde to escape Britain.
One night, Utterson is summoned to Jekyll's home when Hyde has evidently seized control of Jekyll's laboratory and Jekyll is gone and presumed murdered by Hyde. Hyde kills himself when Utterson breaks into the laboratory, and Utterson finds a written statement by Dr. Lanyon, a friend of Jekyll's, telling of Hyde's visit one night to Lanyon. Hyde drank a chemical compound that Jekyll had asked in a handwritten note for Lanyon to acquire, and, in front of Lanyon's eyes, Hyde transformed into a weak and sickly Jekyll. Utterson then reads Jekyll's diary that contains Jekyll's full statement of his unfortunate dalliance with his alter-ego, and the reader, through Utterson, learns of Jekyll's experiments and his descent into a hell of his own making as his "condescension to (his) evil finally destroyed the balance of (his) soul."
This style of presentation superbly weaves a web of enthralling mystery with a shocking concluding revelation, but it does not easily lend itself to a coherent and palatable motion picture screenplay. Every enacted version of the "bogey tale" has chosen to portray Jekyll's downfall in a straightforward, third-person-omniscient manner, with Jekyll's experiments usually seen from inception to inevitable, fatal conclusion.
Moreover, there are no women characters in Stevenson's original work, though it is implied that Jekyll's sordid pleasures in the form of Hyde are sexual in addition to aggressively and destructively physical. Filmic versions of the story have consistently chosen to include one or two supporting female characters, enticing the repressed Jekyll to use Hyde for crude self-gratification. In three cases, all of them theatrical motion pictures, two women are portrayed, one Jekyll's pure fiancee whose disapproving father frustrates Jekyll's wish for an early marriage, and the other a promiscuous cockney barmaid or tavern performer with whom Jekyll would be scandalised. As Hyde, Jekyll is able to freely indulge himself with the barmaid- and is tempted, in two of the three movie versions, to do so when his fiancee is removed from him on an extended voyage by her rigid father.
The first major motion picture adaptation of Stevenson's story was a silent-film version in 1920 starring John Barrymore and having the two-women premise and third-person-omniscient narrative. Several film prints of varying length are in circulation, but the 64-minutes-long one is considered genuine. Barrymore prided himself on contorting his face during transformation scenes rather than using stop-motion photography and gradually-applied heavy make-up. An egg-shaped head was all that was applied to the actor.
Once the "talkie" era of film had begun, it was inevitable that the movie Jekyll-and-Hyde would be remade, with higher production values and elaborate dialogue. Rouben Mamoulian in 1931 directed what is considered to be the definitive Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde film version (released in 1932), as Jekyll's transformations into Hyde were effected by make-up that darkened when a subtle change in lighting was projected onto Fredric March's face. There were, of course, cutaways or stop-motion photography so that fangs, bushy eyebrows, and a shaggy wig could be administered to the actor, but the transformations were expertly performed by March and filmed in flowing camera movement so that cinematic trickery is not evident. Hyde was also rendered more decrepit-looking with each transformation, especially when Jekyll no longer controls the change and reverts to Hyde at inopportune times.
Fredric March, born in 1897, had established a career as a comedy actor before he was cast against type by Mamoulian in the dual role that would win for him his first Oscar award for best actor. Paramount studio executives disapproved, but Mamoulian was firm about wanting an actor known for lighthearted roles to play Jekyll and Hyde so that audiences would not instantly associate the lead actor with horror. And Mamoulian's plan was validated because it made the change in the demeanour of the falling hero all the more disturbing. Doubtless, March's lack of an English accent is a significant criticism, but subsequent versions also chose to cast American actors.
March's performance is in places highly theatrical, but as testimony to his extraordinary acting ability, his portrayal of Hyde is in such contrast to that of Jekyll that if the viewer did not see a close-up of Hyde's eyes at one moment in the movie, he/she could swear that Hyde was played by a different man.
First, Jekyll drinks the potion which he has created, with scientific curiosity, anticipating that it will improve upon his spirit by releasing the angel from his soul. But what it does is to empower and release that part of his spirit that is most repressed in polite Victorian England society, his evil side, with a regressive physical change, to the primitive creature from which man is believed to have evolved. The transformed Jekyll has a child-like, seemingly harmless, free-spirited energy, but quickly drinks the antidote when Jekyll's butler, Poole, knocks at the door to the laboratory attached to Jekyll's high-class abode. Jekyll vows to wait to marry his fiancee, Muriel Carew, as per her father's stubborn insistence, but "breaks his word" when he learns that she is being removed from him for an extended time period as she arbitrarily goes with her father to Bath. Jekyll chooses to become Hyde for a raucous night in London's Soho district, and he seeks the company of barmaid Ivy Pearson, who was earlier met by Jekyll by chance on a street, and quickly pulls her into his spiral into irredeemable violence, confining her to a squalid but ornately decorated apartment in Soho, whipping her for perceived inadequacies.
When Jekyll's betrothed finally returns to London and Jekyll convinces her father to consent to their early marriage, Jekyll tries to put his escapades as Hyde behind him. He locks the back door to his laboratory, destroys the key, locks his chemicals in a cabinet, and swears never to become Hyde again. He tries to appease his conscience by paying to Ivy a generous sum of money, and he personally promises to her during her hysterical visit to his home, as she is telling him all about Hyde's brutality and begging for his protection, that he will personally see to it that Hyde will never bother her again. "I've given you my word, and that I never break. You'll not see Hyde again."
En route to an engagement party in his honour, Jekyll involuntarily changes to Hyde while passing through a park, and the brute rushes to murder Ivy for betraying him to Jekyll, whom Hyde hates more than anyone in the world. "You thought I wouldn't come back, didn't you? You took the word of that snivelling hypocrite Jekyll against mine. Jekyll's word against Hyde's, eh?!"
Locked out of the laboratory and unable to enter the Jekyll house via the front door because he is sought by police for the murder, Hyde uses Jekyll's handwriting to draft a letter to Dr. Lanyon, Jekyll's colleague, asking Lanyon to go to Jekyll's laboratory via the main house, obtain the needed antidote, and bring it to the Lanyon estate for Hyde to collect.
Hyde drinks the antidote and, before Lanyon's eyes, becomes Jekyll, exactly as happens in Stevenson's novella. Lanyon is aghast and judging. Jekyll pleads with Lanyon to help him, and as penance, he pledges to renounce his claim to his fiancee and live in chaste, humble, unfailing servitude to the ill and needy.
But Jekyll is deluding himself. He has already lost control of his baser half. When he visits his fiancee to tell to her that their marriage cannot happen, he is unable to leave her, and he reverts to Hyde, grabs his fainting love, and kills her father in a fit of passion. Pursued by police, Hyde races back to the Jekyll estate and chemical workshop for an antidote-enabled change back to Jekyll, who, he believes, is above suspicion. He manages to transform to Jekyll before the police, accompanied by Lanyon, force entry into Jekyll's laboratory. As Lanyon is pointing an accusing finger at Jekyll, the sweating doctor changes to Hyde and battles a squadron of constables, before a bullet is fired through his heart and he falls onto Jekyll's laboratory table and transforms to a dead and lamented Jekyll.
Mamoulian's version is rich with suggestive imagery. A boiling cauldron is repeatedly seen in Jekyll's laboratory, and when Jekyll decides for the first time to use Hyde for pleasure, the cauldron pops its lid! Statuary of a male, winged angel seducing a woman is shown above Hyde while the brute is murdering Ivy, depicting Jekyll's personal downfall in exquisitely visual and symbolic terms. Ivy referred to Jekyll as "her angel". How wrong she was! Montage of a fire in Jekyll's fireplace (another hell motif) is also used as Jekyll gleefully plays his piano after learning that he has been finally permitted to marry Muriel. Camera pans are swift, and on at least two occasions entirely subjective, from Jekyll's point of view. Mamoulian's idiosyncratic style does not appeal to all tastes, but there can be no denying that his lavishly visual approach to film accounts for much of the 1932 version's artistic quality.
The only major objective weakness to the Mamoulian-March 1932 version is its near total lack of music. Indeed, the only music heard in the film is the creepy Bach composition accompanying the opening credits, Jekyll's playing of his piano in two instances, the performing musicians at a ball at the Carew mansion, the dancing tunes at the Music Hall where Hyde seeks Ivy, who sings "Champagne Ivy is My Name", and the melody over the closing credits.
In 1941, MGM signed its leading man, Spencer Tracy, a close friend of March's, to essay the dual role for a virtual remake of the 1932 film. The 1941 Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde was so close in essential narrative to the 1932 version that some scenes were duplicated precisely. However, Tracy varied from March in foregoing the use of heavy make-up, for most of the film anyway, and apart from hairier eyebrows and darkened eyes, relied on his own facial feature control and acting ability to convincingly portray two opposite personalities. The 1941 version also chose not to do a lighting-on-make-up transition from Jekyll to Hyde, relying instead on dream sequences during the first two Jekyll-to-Hyde changeovers. Jekyll envisions himself at the reins of a carriage pulled by his fiancee and the second woman in his life, Ivy, as he delightfully whips the two labouring and fearful ladies. Ivy is consumed in lava. The fiancee is the contents of a liquor bottle, with Ivy's head as the cork and Jekyll releasing her by decapitation, emphasising the erotic closeness between love and violence.
Later transformations, in particular Jekyll's involuntary change to Hyde in the park, Hyde's potion-induced metamorphosis to Jekyll as observed by Lanyon, and Jekyll's concluding Hyde transformation in his laboratory before the startled eyes of police were achieved by stop-motion photography lap-dissolves with subtly gradual changes in make-up, eyebrow thickness, and eye colour, a process rather less convincing than the lighting-on-make-up effect in the 1932 version.
Lana Turner was cast against her usual vixen type to play Jekyll's naive and pure fiancee, Beatrice Emery, and Ingrid Bergman played the temptress, Ivy Peterson.
The Tracy version is ten minutes longer than the March film, primarily so that a humanitarian pretence for Jekyll's experiments could be introduced as the film opens. Jekyll is in a church with Bea and Bea's father when a man, Sam Higgins, starts ranting hysterically about carnal pleasures, and Mrs. Higgins informs Jekyll that a head injury has rendered her once meek and upstanding husband an uninhibited, motivated-to-evil man. Jekyll hopes that his formula will reverse the personality change in Mr. Higgins. But Higgins dies before Jekyll can conceive and administer the drug.
Though Tracy's performance as Hyde was pilloried by critics as hammy and unconvincing and Tracy himself expressed regret at playing the role as March had done (the increasingly violent and ultimately murderous Hyde), his portrayal, like March's, is effective in demonstrating the two connected yet distinct sides to one man's nature. Tracy-as-Hyde is in such contrast to Tracy-as-Jekyll that if the actor's face were not so clearly recognisable in both personas, one could easily assume that they were played by two separate actors.
The 1941 version is enhanced with a score that is throughout lavish and expressive, in contrast to the minimal music of the 1932 film.
However, it cannot be denied that both movie versions undertook extensive liberties with the story, and close to a half-hour of screen time is spent introducing Jekyll's relationship with his fiancee and her frustratingly disapproving father and showing Jekyll's encounter one evening with Ivy, rescuing her from an assaulting man on a street and going with her to her apartment to examine her minor bruises and becoming enticed into a kiss. The first transformation is delayed until both films are more than a quarter finished, resulting in a compression of the remainder of the story. There really should be more Jekyll-controlled transformations on film after Jekyll has induced his first pleasure-motivated change, to clearly show that his sinful exploits proceed over an extended time period and to dramatise Jekyll's excuses for his wilful abandonment of restraint and responsibility as he continues summoning an increasingly dangerous Hyde. In neither film is Utterson a major figure. He does not appear in the 1941 film. Lanyon as Jekyll's moralistic colleague is a recurring character, but the films could have benefited from another of Jekyll's friends with a different profession.
"Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde" next appeared, as a television event, on two occasions, once in 1955 for the live-television anthology drama series, Climax!, and again in 1968 as a 2 1/2 hour television movie. In terms of story-telling, the television versions are superior to the theatrical ones in that both are more faithful to Stevenson, and their writers were able to install more development in a more briskly plotted script. The Utterson character is crucial to the Climax! production, and though he is renamed Devlin for the 1968 television movie, his role is vital to its outcome also. It is he in both productions who is ultimately privy to Jekyll's horrible secret, by reading Jekyll's diary in the former version and by witnessing Hyde change to Jekyll in the latter. In both cases, Utterson/Devlin fires the bullet that kills Hyde.
Michael Rennie (The Day the Earth Stood Still) portrayed Jekyll in the Climax! production, and though this black-and-white television show contains all of the hallmarks of a low budget, including limited sets, dialogue line fluffs, and phony-looking violent scenes, it is arguably the closest in narrative to the Stevenson novella. There is no fiancee or disapproving prospective father-in-law- and no pre-first-transformation temptation. Jekyll changes into Hyde, then gratifies himself with sex, drink, and violence. Through Utterson's reading of Jekyll's diary, the viewer is told by Jekyll that the doctor's dalliances as Hyde continued for months, until one night when Hyde attempted to kill a rival for the affections of a cabaret girl, who wanted to spurn Hyde to marry a respectable man.
Jekyll tried to abandon Hyde and return to "the good world" again, seeing old friends and dedicating his life to charity, only to succumb to his growing bodily yearning to be Hyde and to drink the potion again "in an hour of moral weakness" and become his long-caged and lusting-for-violence other self, who killed in a rage the young woman's fiancee. Jekyll transformed to normal in front of the startled eyes of Lanyon, who denounced Jekyll's blasphemy and ordered Jekyll out of his life. Jekyll vowed nevermore to become Hyde. He threw away all his chemicals to safeguard himself against relapse and lived for several weeks in moral servitude, dedicating himself to humanitarian chores and lofty ideals.
But Jekyll too confidently visited the Soho cabaret where Hyde's victimised woman was a regular, and tried to lull his conscience by helping the young woman whose life he, as Hyde, had ruined. While he talked with the woman, the cabaret became "less tawdry and disagreeable". Jekyll grew comfortable in Hyde's frequented establishment, and before the woman's horrified eyes, "The thunderbolt had struck. I had become Hyde without wanting to. Without having first taken the potion." Hyde, fearful of arrest and capital punishment by hanging, fled to the safety of the doctor's laboratory and returned to the form of Jekyll some time later. Jekyll found that he could not reproduce the drug to maintain his own countenance, and Hyde must inevitably prevail after Jekyll has let the "genie" out of "the bottle". Precisely as happens in Stevenson's novella, one of the ingredients of the potion and antidote had an impurity that cannot be precisely duplicated, and Jekyll is devastated. His life is finished.
The story ends with Jekyll changing to Hyde again and assuming refuge in the laboratory, before Utterson, summoned to the Jekyll residence by Poole, forces entry into the laboratory and gun-shoots Hyde dead, and the story comes "full circle", as Utterson closes Jekyll's diary. A commendable effort at encapsulating the tale coherently into less than an hour of dramatic television time.
Rennie's transformations were achieved by stop-motion photography and gradual make-up application or removal with an added rippling effect so that the transitions are rendered without any evident jump-cutting.
Jack Palance was a consummate film villain, best known for playing Wild West hired killers, when he was cast in the Jekyll/Hyde dual role for a Dan Curtis production of the "bogey tale" for television in 1968. Curtis further produced television movies of Dracula (1973) (also with Palance) and Frankenstein (1973). However, it was his The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde that was nominated for three Emmy Awards.
The Palance version is probably most controversial due to the videotaped rather than filmed look, the deliberate, Masterpiece Theatre-style direction by Charles Jarrott and the repetitive, spooky, instrumental music. Palance's Hyde is very much over-the-top, in distinct contrast to Palance's usual taciturn malice, and is therefore interesting and somewhat against type. Palance's portrayal of the repressed, mild-mannered Jekyll is compellingly different from any of his other work, most particularly after Jekyll is no longer able to excuse to himself his continuing summons of Hyde and becomes tortured by the battle between conscience and the seething, inner wild man "lusting" to "come out".
As in the 1932 film, Jekyll is shown addressing various colleagues in an amphitheatre about his theory. "My objective is to liberate the more upright twin. If we can erase man's baser instincts, he just might make something of this all-too-imperfect world... In terms of evolutionary time, it is but an hour since we all crawled out of the swamp. Ahead of us is the mountain that must be scaled if mankind is to survive. If my experiment can bring us one inch toward that mountain, then you in order to achieve that inch should be willing to give up not only your time but your lives as well." The response: his esteemed peers, offended by his position about human spiritual duality, are provoked to lashing out with threats of violence. "Thank-you, gentlemen. If my experiment needed any justification, you have just provided it. And be damned to the lot of you."
The first act then cuts to Jekyll in his elaborately realised laboratory, succeeding in concocting his transforming formula, drinking it and screaming in pain as the camera slowly fades for the first commercial break. It is morning when the television movie resumes, and Jekyll's butler, Poole, awakens the doctor, who is his normal self in his own bed. The viewer is not as yet privy to what happened in the interim, and Jekyll does not remember what happened after he drank the drug the night before. He investigates and finds in his coat a flask of liquor and a flier for Tessie O'Toole's Music Hall, the Windmill, where Jekyll's transformed self evidently spent a rollicking night. Jekyll visits the Windmill and leans of Hyde's rambunctious revelry from Mrs. O'Toole and one of the dancing girls, Gywn Thomas, whom Hyde fancied and seduced.
Intrigued, Jekyll decides to undergo the transformation again, after altering the potion so that he can remember the deeds of his alter-ego, who, he learns, calls himself Hyde. Jekyll becomes Hyde again, and Hyde, given liberty in Jekyll's home as per a signed order by Jekyll to the servants, mail-orders a sword from France, receives fencing lessons, and revisits the Windmill, where he again frolics with doxies and this time delights in mayhem when a group of thugs try to ambush him outside. After tripping two of the men, wounding another, and slashing the nose of the thugs' leader, Hyde returns to Jekyll's laboratory and drinks the antidote to change to Jekyll, who gleefully remembers Hyde's unrestrained deeds. "Badgerous lot," he states in regard to the men Hyde violently engaged. "They deserved it."
Jekyll hosts a dinner party for friends, at which he speaks with admiration of the aggressive aspect of man. This provokes the scorn of Lanyon, Jekyll's prudish colleague. Utterson, another of the guests, expresses misgivings about Jekyll's new associate, Hyde. But Jekyll chooses depart from his guests, who, he openly says, bore him, and goes to his laboratory to again become Hyde, who hastens to Gwyn's apartment and whips her for her act of inviting another man, a friend's fiancee, into her apartment for a celebration. Encountering Lanyon outside of a cab, Hyde beats the esteemed man within an inch of his life, and Jekyll goes to bed that night, asking himself, "What's your excuse this time? None." He awakens the next morning not as Jekyll but as Hyde! An identical event happens in the original Stevenson work. Hyde scurries to the laboratory connected to Jekyll's estate to drink the Jekyll-restoring antidote.
Troubled by his uncontrolled, nocturnal change to Hyde and by Hyde's unbridled violence upon Gwyn and Lanyon, Jekyll decides to terminate his use of Hyde, but the chemist who supplied Jekyll with the compounds to the potion knows about Jekyll's dual identity and tries to blackmail Jekyll, who weakly evokes Hyde to "deal with" the blackmailer- and Hyde commits murder.
Hyde is wanted by police, and Jekyll cannot afford to become him again, voluntarily or otherwise. He thrusts himself into his medical work to avoid any possible temptation, but Gwyn lures him, Jekyll, to her apartment, and the timid Doctor is about to succumb to her wiles when he instantaneously transforms to Hyde and murders her. Hyde flees to Jekyll's laboratory and drinks the antidote, and seconds later, as Jekyll sobs in his chair, the change to Hyde occurs instantaneously again. Jekyll has lost the battle, and his supply of the antidote to retain his Jekyll identity is diminishing.
Devlin arrives at Poole's summons after Hyde's wailing in the laboratory has awakened Jekyll's house servants. Hyde drinks the last of the antidote to become Jekyll before Devlin's eyes, and Devlin learns from Jekyll that Hyde will return in short time and Jekyll needs Devlin's help to obtain the funds to leave England to go somewhere to work on reproducing the formula upon which he is now dependent. But Jekyll reverts to Hyde before Devlin can meet him and provide the money, and in events written exclusively for this television movie to extend Stevenson's climax, Devlin and police chase Hyde into a medical building. Hyde confronts Devlin and is killed by gunshot by the lawyer when he attempts to murder Devlin and flee.
Although longest in screen time and in many ways faithfully adapting Stevenson's original story plot, this made-for-television version lacks convincing transformation scenes. The changeovers were achieved by the cheap television process of slow fades from a production switcher as Jekyll's face or hair dissolves, with no gradual make-up transition, into Hyde's, or by simply cutting away to a scene of the laboratory seen through Jekyll's eyes, or having the changes occur off of camera.
There were other films based on Stevenson's story, with the titles of I, Monster (1960), The Testament of Dr. Cordlier (1959), The Man and the Monster (1958), and the famous Abbott and Costello Meet Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde (1953), but the aforementioned versions are widely considered to be true Jekyll-and-Hyde, while these lesser known variations, in addition to Dr. Jekyll and Sister Hyde (1971), are interesting but not of the same calibre of story adaptation.
By the early 1970s, the heritage of horror film had degraded with the arrival of the generic "slasher flick". The 1932 Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde had been removed from circulation by MGM, which purchased the property from Paramount to protect its own, 1941 version, then re-released in the 1970s with substantial cuts to remove, among other things, Hyde's explicit brutality toward Ivy and the erotic overtures in Jekyll's initial encounter with the barmaid. The film's original length of 97 minutes had been reduced to near 80!
Meanwhile, parody was the only manner of revival for the story on film through the seventies and early eighties. A musical version starring Kirk Douglas was produced for television in 1973. Then came Dr. Black and Mr. Hyde (1976), about an African-American doctor (Bernie Casey) becoming a white-skinned maniac, Dr. Heckyl and Mr. Hype (1980), with Oliver Reed as an ugly podiatrist with a handsome ladies' man alter-ego, and Jekyll and Hyde- Together Again (1982), starring Mark Blankfield as a modern America doctor at a charity hospital, who invents a powdery nose-candy that changes him into a sex-crazed hippie, literally causing Robert Louis Stevenson to spin in his grave: "Oh, no! My story! Ruined!"
British television in 1981 attempted a serious "take" on the Hyde-as-handsome twist, in a movie/miniseries that ran on Britain's ITV and on PBS (on Mystery!) in the U.S., casting British thespian David Hemmings as an elder, moustached, very thickly sideburned, rather puffy-faced, balding Jekyll and as the younger, lean, mostly clean-shaven, non-bald Mr. Hyde, devious charmer and sociopath. Ian Bannen played the role of Oliver Utterson, while Clive Swift portrayed Dr. Hastie Lanyon. Mrs. Ann Coggeshall, the highly cultured, widowed social activist and love interest to both the stodgy Jekyll and passionate Hyde, was enacted by Lisa Harrow (The Final Conflict). Leo McKern (Rumpole of the Bailey) introduced the PBS Mystery! presentation, split into two parts to air on two consecutive weeks. Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde (1981) was telecast only once in both countries, and a digital videodisc (DVD) release in the U.K. in 2007 was the first time since the early 1980s that David Hemmings' performance in the Jekyll and Hyde dual role reached the market of home videotape/videodisc.
Hemmings' Jekyll intakes the transformation-inducing concoction orally, but for Hyde to become Jekyll, the re-agent needs to be administered intravenously. Apart from this, the 1981 Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde is remarkably faithful to the Stevenson novella in story structure, very closely following the example of the Jack Palance 1968 version. There is a scene in which Jekyll awakens one morning not as himself but as Hyde, despite having gone to bed as Jekyll. And there are scenes of Jekyll on his knees on the laboratory floor, praying to God, as there were in The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde (1968). However, a scarcity of the potion's needed drug element(s) does not factor here into Jekyll's crisis of retaining the image of his "better self" toward the end of the story, whereas deficient supply of necessary drugs was a problem for Palance's Jekyll. And Jekyll having a relationship with a woman, Mrs. Coggeshall, of high social standing was not part of the 1968 television movie as it is here. In both the 1968 and 1981 television renditions of the Stevenson tale, Hyde is all that remains of Jekyll after death; there is no re-transformation back to Jekyll's original form.
Jekyll's second metamorphosis into Hyde is revealed with a lantern, struck by Jekyll's head, swaying back and forth, alternately casting Jekyll's visage in light and dark. Each time that the transmogrifying doctor's face is in blackness, portions of Hemmings' applied facial hair were made to disappear, while he gains hairs at top of his head and his face becomes more and more trim and comely. The initial Jekyll-to-Hyde changeover is depicted with subjective camera, like that employed for the first transformation in the 1932 Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, in this case showing Jekyll's hallucinations of exploding laboratory gear and a skeleton head in his hand. There were also film edit cutaways during some of the transformations so that Hemmings' make-up could be applied or removed between edit points.
Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde (1981) is disturbingly different from its predecessors in having some of Hyde's sexual encounters include a homosexual liaison with a youthful male prostitute and intercourse with Jekyll's pretty, very young housemaid, whom Hyde drugs prior to "interfer(ing) with" her. The upstanding Sir Danvers Carew, played by Desmond Llewelyn (Q of the James Bond movies), happens to witness Hyde relentlessly hitting and kicking the male prostitute whilst Hyde is refusing to pay for the prostitute's "services", and Carew intervenes to try to stop Hyde's brutality. Hyde murders Carew, bashing Carew's head with a metal cane handle. And when Jekyll is reconstituted sometime thereafter, his remark is, "Oh, God, help me! My sins are too great for me to bear!" The maid committing suicide later in the story as a result of Hyde's illicit deed upon her, contributes further to Jekyll's despairing frame of mind as Jekyll is losing control over his transformations to Hyde. And in one of the climactic scenes of this television movie, Hyde seduces and beds Ann Coggeshall. When Ann awakes in the morning, she finds laying next to her in her bed not Hyde, and not Jekyll, but a hideous physical manifestation of both in a mid-transformative state.
The music in the 1981 Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde has a radiophonic sound comparable to melodies in the Doctor Who serials produced by the British Broadcasting Corporation at the time, during the final season for Tom Baker as the time-traveller from planet Gallifrey.
Alfred Hitchcock's Psycho, the story of a violent split personality induced not by a chemical but due to traumatic childhood matricide, sadly heralded a new and undignified era of slasher horror cinema. Anthony Perkins, famous for his Psycho role of the mother-fixated schizophrenic, Norman Bates, was cast in the role of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde in a 1989 film called Edge of Sanity, which proposes that Jack the Ripper may have been a true-life Mr. Hyde. But Perkins' Hyde, with a first name of Jack so that viewers would catch the reference to the infamous Ripper, is little more than a ghostly-white, cocaine-fixed Bates, knifing prostitute after prostitute in gloomy Soho. The film is exceedingly graphic in its violence, extremely crude in its dialogue, and sexually explicit to the extent of being pornographic. Actually, it is just a sick "slasher film" pretending to be literate by cloaking itself in the Jekyll-and-Hyde prospectus.
Perkins' Jekyll is a married man with a devoted spouse, and he changes for the first time to Hyde totally by accident when a baboon in his laboratory causes an emission of cocaine gas from a beaker. Black comedy prevails as Perkins does his trademark slow, shifty eye routine as Hyde and enacts a sudden expression change (from smiling to sneering) while Jekyll is talking to a policeman who turns his back. In another comedic scene, Jekyll cannot touch the buttocks of a patient in an operating theatre while a horse whinnies outside, and he begins stammering in front of his students. Later, at a high-class dinner, Jekyll talks to his prudish peers about real freedom as he grabs the meat off of the plate of the person seated next to him to demonstrate. Hyde drugs two prostitutes, one female and one male, and forces them to engage in sex while he watches and masturbates. Degraded material. Not at all befitting a classic story like Stevenson's novella. In the end, Jekyll's wife discovers her husband's double identity but thinks that she is too late to help him when she sees him face down on his laboratory floor. Then Hyde springs up at her. "You didn't think I was-- dead, did you?" he asks with a smirk before murdering her with a surgical knife. The film ends with a policeman suspecting that Jekyll is responsible for the slayings but unable to prove it, and Jekyll stares outside at the departing inspector from his window.
Next was a made-for-television movie in 1990 starring Michael Caine in the dual role. Caine teamed with writer David Wickes, with whom he worked in a 1988 version of Jack the Ripper (starring Caine as a Scotland Yard Inspector and Armand Assante as an actor playing none other than Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde!), in a liberal adaptation of Stevenson's original for British and American television in January, 1990. Caine portrayed Jekyll as a widower who desires the sister, Sara Crawford (Cheryl Ladd of Charlie's Angels fame), of his deceased spouse, both of whom being the daughters of Dr. Lanyon, who vehemently disapproves of Jekyll's research and attentions toward his only surviving daughter, who is married to a seaman. Victorian propriety and gossip inhibit Jekyll's wish to go against Lanyon's objections and openly court Sara. So, he uses Hyde as an outlet for his repressed sexual urges and anger over Lanyon's prohibition. Eventually, Jekyll and Sara succumb to their attraction and kiss in a park, and they are seen by London's foremost busybody, who informs Lanyon. Lanyon banishes Sara from his house, and Sara, forsaking her husband whom she has never really loved, "moves in" with Jekyll. Sara becomes a victim of Hyde when Jekyll, for the first time against his volition, transforms to Hyde, who murders a policeman in Soho, then returns to Jekyll's home, invades the room where Sara is sleeping, and rapes her. She is later found by Jekyll's butler, Poole, and Jekyll, chemically restored to himself, must deflect the attention of local police even as Scotland Yard is relentlessly investigating and already has a cordon around the Soho brothel where Hyde has a room.
Jekyll confides his secret to Sara, promises to banish Hyde forever, destroys his chemicals, and burns all of his notes. For two months, Jekyll and Sara live together in unmarried happiness, defying the gossip of neighbours and excommunication by Lanyon. But while searching with his father for a vintage liquor in Jekyll Senior's wine cellar, Jekyll undergoes his change to Hyde, who murders Jekyll's father and flees to Soho in hope of finding a stashed supply of the antidote chemical to safely become Jekyll again. However, a dragnet awaits him there, and he leads the constables through London to Jekyll's Harley Street estate. Hyde forces entry into the laboratory and uses Jekyll's only intravenous supply of the antidote, and Sara finds the distressed and re-transformed Jekyll. No longer able to stop his changes to Hyde and not now possessing a supply of the antidote to analyse and reproduce, Jekyll races to find Lanyon, who has a small pouch of the antidote given to him by police for analysis, and en route transforms into Hyde. Hyde threatens Lanyon to force him to surrender the antidote sample, and before Lanyon's eyes, Hyde drinks the antidote and becomes Jekyll. Lanyon is aghast, and Jekyll is devastated when told by Lanyon that Hyde used all that was left of the antidote. There is no more. Jekyll's next change to Hyde will be permanent, and Hyde must hang for murder. Hurrying back to his home, Jekyll finds Scotland Yard there questioning Sara and rushes to his laboratory in a desperate search for any amount of the needed antidote, but the change begins again, and Jekyll commits suicide to stop Hyde. Sara is overcome with grief and leaves London.
The telefilm opens after Jekyll's death as the belongings in his home are being auctioned, and Jekyll's friend and solicitor, Utterson, learns that Jekyll willed his estate to Sara, stops the auction, and goes to Somerset to find the beneficiary. Sara is living as a stables-woman with a son and is not pleased to find Utterson visiting her with news of Jekyll's bequest. Sara refuses to go back to London or claim any of Jekyll's estate, and when Utterson asks why, she tells to him the whole story in flashback.
Jekyll and Hyde is neither sexually explicit nor gratuitously violent. Hyde does set a pub on fire, kill a policeman and Jekyll's father, trample a flower-vending girl, and rape Sara, but the television film does not condescend to gore or to pornography (naturally not, because it was produced for television). The results of violence are seen, but seldom the act. Moreover, Caine's Hyde speaks only in one scene, which heightens the strangeness, unnaturalness, and monstrousness of Hyde.
Panoramic views of a perfectly realised London of the 1880s with elaborate "local colour" including stunning Victorian female costumes, cockney newspaper-vendor boys carrying huge headlines, horse-pulled carriages, and ornate lecture halls and restaurants, combine with the convincing make-up of Hyde as an almost hairless, puffed-faced brute into which Jekyll changes with slow boils to his skin as a transmuting of his face and physique is captured on camera with the boils reshaping into Hyde's gnarly look, a stunningly realistic transformation process that leaves stop-motion, lap-dissolve techniques light-years behind. Most noteworthy is Caine's performance itself. Perhaps more than any other actor, he expertly portrays Jekyll as a man of good conscience but weak will, stymied in his love, repressed in his anger, and provoked through Hyde to hate contrary to his noble profession and otherwise good character. Scenes in which Jekyll is in the throes of involuntary transformation are more riveting than any others in film history!
Sadly, Jekyll and Hyde was not a critical success. Most people seemed to have missed its broadcast, and its subsequent release to home videotape in 1995 was not effectively promoted. Michael Caine himself does not tout it as one of his best performances. It was fun but ultimately inconsequential to his career. Lionel Jeffries, who played Jekyll's father, is particularly negative, saying he was embarrassed for his friend, Caine, when Caine was in his Hyde make-up. Jeffries thought the Hyde portrayal was "over-the-top" and that the puffed head looked silly. Jekyll and Hyde is, however, by all objective accounts, a far superior version to Perkins' Edge of Sanity and to the overblown 1995 Mary Reilly.
Tim Burton, famed director of Batman (1989), was always fascinated by the Jekyll-and-Hyde tale and in 1994 gained the backing of Alliance Pictures to produce his own version of it. He opted for a different approach with Jekyll's housemaid, Mary Reilly (Julia Roberts), being the central character, the events of Jekyll's dual life transpiring from her point of view as she is attracted to both personalities.
Though Mary Reilly looks impressive on a movie theatre screen, its lavish, dreary Victorian sets referencing the Alien/Blade Runner grimy, wet, claustrophobic style, the housemaid perspective limits the depiction of Jekyll's transformations until Reilly sees one for the first and only time at film's end. The viewer, through Reilly, watches Jekyll, an elder, sickly man, enter his laboratory and hears some bellowing. The next day, Jekyll invites Reilly into his study and tells to her that he has been given a second lease on life, a chance to live like a young man again. Reilly does not understand her employer's cryptic statement but is drawn to the sordid, new laboratory assistant of Jekyll's, a Mr. Hyde. She has erotic dreams about Hyde while suspecting him of unbridled mayhem and murder. A Soho brothel madam, played by Glenn Close, tries to blackmail Jekyll, funder of Hyde's room at the brothel, after Hyde's nefarious deeds have sullied the reputation of her establishment- and Jekyll, with no compunction, invites her into his laboratory, summons Hyde with the potion, and kills her.
Reilly had an unpleasant childhood, with an abusive father and rat infestation that has left scratches on her neck. In his crude, violent way, Hyde reminds her of her father, as does her employer, Jekyll, for his paternalistic influence. This explains her perverse attraction to both, and Freudian analysts notice immediately the implied Electra complex (girls lusting after their fathers).
The only shown transformation is computer-generated, with Jekyll's head emerging from Hyde's chest, a crassly sensationalistic effect connecting the film more with the Nightmare On Elm Street variety of movie horror than with the classics of the genre. Furthermore, consummate villain-portrayer John Malkovich is not at all persuasive as a meek-and-mild Jekyll. Jekyll seems as devoid of conscience as his alter-ego, and how could Reilly not know immediately that Jekyll is Hyde when both look chiefly the same? Hyde is clean-shaven, and Jekyll is partly bearded. Aside from different hairstyle, this is the only physical distinction.
It was not a promising portent of the movie's success for its release to have been delayed again and again through 1994 and 1995 for editing and re-editing, and finally distributed in 1996 to tepid box office returns and mixed reviews. Really, it is a forgettable and needless version. A theatrical feature updating the March and Tracy films (in third-person-omniscient) with state-of-the-art transition techniques- and without the tacky head-out-of-the-heart effect- would have been far more satisfying.
Released at almost the same time as Mary Reilly was yet another spoof of the Stevenson tale, essentially the premise of Dr. Jekyll and Sister Hyde done with the irreverence of Jekyll and Hyde- Together Again. Dr. Jekyll and Ms. Hyde (1995) involves a modern American ancestor of the Victorian Jekyll replicating his forebear's experiment and changing repeatedly and uncontrollably into an unscrupulous vixen, Helen Hyde, who will do anything and sleep with anyone to ascend the corporate ladder at a perfume company. One positive facet to this hackneyed film is that the transformations are excellent.
With all the versions, respectable and otherwise, of Robert Louis Stevenson's story available on film and television, there can be little doubt that this tale is one of the most frequently revived premises in the history of film and Stevenson's most popular and adapted work. But the ultimate enacted version, a combination of the best aspects of each of the serious ones (the acting, set design, and make-up effects of 1932, the score and dream scenes of 1941, the Jekyll voice-over narrative and fast pace of the Climax! production in 1955, the faithfulness to the Stevenson source in 1968, and the production values of 1990) has yet to be made!
Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde (1920) John Barrymore (Dr. Henry Jekyll/Mr. Hyde), Martha Mansfield (Millicent Carew), Brandon Hurst (Sir George Carew), Charles Lane (Dr. Richard Lanyon), George Stevens (Poole), Nita Naldi (Gina), Louis Wolheim (Music Hall Owner), Cecil Clovelly (Edward Enfield), J. Malcolm Dunn (John Utterson). Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde (1932) Fredric March (Dr. Henry Jekyll/Mr. Hyde), Miriam Hopkins (Ivy Pearson), Rose Hobart (Muriel Carew), Halliwell Hobbes (Brigadier General Carew), Holmes Herbert (Dr. Lanyon), Edgar Norton (Poole), Tempe Pigott (Mrs. Hawkins), Arnold Lucy (Utterson). Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde (1941) Spencer Tracy (Dr. Henry Jekyll/Mr. Hyde), Ingrid Bergman (Ivy Peterson), Lana Turner (Beatrix Emery), Donald Crisp (Sir Charles Emery), Ian Hunter (Dr. John Lanyon), Barton MacLane (Sam Higgins), C. Aubrey Smith (the Bishop), Peter Godfrey (Poole), Sara Allgood (Mrs. Higgins), Frederick Worlock (Dr. Heath), William Tannen (Intern Fenwick), Frances Robinson (Marcia), Denis Green (Freddie), Lawrence Grant (Dr. Courtland). Climax!- "Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde" (1955) Michael Rennie (Dr. Jekyll/Mr. Hyde), Cedric Hardwicke (George Utterson), Mary Sinclair (the Girl), Lowell Gilmore (Dr. Lanyon). The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde (1968) Jack Palance (Dr. Henry Jekyll/Mr. Edward Hyde), Denholm Elliott (Devlin), Billie Whitelaw (Gwyn Thomas), Leo Genn (Dr. Lanyon), Oscar Homolka (Stryker), Tessie O'Shea (Tessie O'Toole), Torin Thatcher (Sir John Turnbull), Duncan Lamont (Sergeant Grimes), Gillie Fenwick (Poole), Rex Sevenoaks (Dr. Wright). Dr, Jekyll and Sister Hyde (1971) Ralph Bates (Dr. Jekyll), Martine Beswick (Sister Hyde), Gerald Sim (Professor Robertson), Lewis Flander (Howard), Susan Broderick (Susan), Dorothy Alison (Mrs. Spencer), Ivor Dean (Burke), Philip Madoc (Byker), Paul Whitsun-Jones (Sergeant Danvers). Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde (1973) Kirk Douglas (Dr. Jekyll/Mr. Hyde), Susan George (Anne), Michael Redgrave (Danvers), Susan Hampshire (Isabel), Donald Pleasence (Fred Smudge), Judi Bowker (Tupenny), Stanley Holloway (Poole), Nicholas Smith (Hastings), Geoffrey Moore (Wainwright). Dr. Black and Mr. Hyde (1976) Bernie Casey (Dr. Henry Pride), Rosalind Cash (Dr. Billie Worth), Marie O'Henry (Linda Monte), Ji-Tu Cumbuka (Lieutenant Jackson), Milt Kogan (Lieutenant Harry O'Connor), Stu Gilliam (Silky), Della Thomas (Bernice Watts), Marc Alaimo (Preston). Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde (1981) David Hemmings (Dr. Henry Jekyll/Mr. Edward Hyde), Ian Bannen (Oliver Utterson), Lisa Harrow (Mrs. Ann Coggeshall), Clive Swift (Dr. Lanyon), Toyah Wilcox (Janet), Diana Dors (Kate Winterton), Desmond Llewelyn (Sir Danvers Carew), Roland Curram (Poole), Ben Aris (Inspector Newcomen), Roger Davidson (Bradshaw). Jekyll and Hyde- Together Again (1982) Mark Blankfield (Dr. Jekyll/Mr. Hyde), Bess Armstrong (Mary), Krista Errickson (Ivy), Tim Thomerson (Dr. Knute Lanyon), Michael McGuire (Dr. Carew), Neil Hunt (Queen), Cassandra Peterson (Nurse), Jessica Nelson (Barbara Blau). Edge of Sanity (1989) Anthony Perkins (Dr. Henry Jekyll/Jack Hyde), Glynis Barber (Elisabeth Jekyll), David Lodge (Underwood), Sarah Maur Thorp (Susannah), Ben Cole (Johnny), Lisa Davis (Maria), Claudia Udy (Liza). Jekyll and Hyde (1990) Michael Caine (Dr. Henry Jekyll/Mr. Hyde), Cheryl Ladd (Sara Crawford), Joss Ackland (Dr. Charles Lanyon), Kim Thomson (Lucy), Diane Keen (Anabelle), Ronald Pickup (Jeffrey Utterson), Lee Montague (Inspector Palmer), Kevin McNally (Sergeant Hornby), David Schofield (Snape), Miriam Karlin (Mrs. Hackett), Frank Barrie (Poole), Joan Heal (Mrs. Clark), Lionel Jeffries (Jekyll's Father), Philip Locke (Devlin), Simon Adams (Medical Student). Mary Reilly (1995) Julia Roberts (Mary Reilly), John Malkovich (Dr. Jekyll/Mr. Hyde), George Cole (Poole), Michael Gambon (Mary's Father), Kathy Staff (Mrs. Kent), Glenn Close (Mrs. Farraday), Michael Sheen (Bradshaw), Bronagh Gallagher (Annie), Linda Bassett (Mary's Mother), Henry Goodman (Haffinger). Dr. Jekyll and Ms. Hyde (1995) Sean Young (Helen Hyde), Timothy Daly (Dr. Richard Jacks), Lysette Anthony (Sarah Carver), Stephen Tobolowsky (Oliver Mintz), Harvey Fierstein (Yves DuBois), Thea Vidale (Valerie), Jeremy Piven (Pete Walston), Polly Bergen (Mrs. Unterveldt), Stephen Shellen (Larry).