For the 1912 film version, see Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde (1912 film). For the 1920 version starring John Barrymore, see Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde (1920 film). For the 1920 version directed by J. Charles Haydon, see Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde (1920/II film). For the 1941 MGM version, see Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde (1941 film).
|Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde|
|Released:||December 31, 1931|
Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde (1931) is a horror film directed by Rouben Mamoulian. and starring Fredric March. The film is an adaptation of The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde (1886), the Robert Louis Stevenson tale of a man who takes a potion which turns him from a mild-mannered man of science into a crude homicidal maniac.
It is also said that the movie had inspired the 1970s song "You Can Run" by A Flock of Seagulls.
The film tells of Dr. Jekyll (Fredric March), a kind doctor who experiments with drugs because he's certain that within each man lurks impulses for both good and evil.
Dr. Jekyll develops a drug to release the evil side in himself, becoming the hard drinking, woman-chasing Mr. Hyde. Jekyll quickly becomes addicted to the formula, and unable to control the violent and unstable Mr. Hyde.
The film, made prior to the full enforcement of the Production Code, is remembered today for its strong sexual content, embodied mostly in the character of the prostitute, Ivy Pearson, played by Miriam Hopkins. When the film was rereleased in 1936, the Code required 8 minutes to be removed before the film could be distributed to theaters. This footage was restored for the VHS and DVD releases.
The secret of the astonishing transformation scenes was not revealed for decades (Mamoulian himself revealed it in a volume of interviews with Hollywood directors published under the title The Celluloid Muse). A series of colored filters matching the make-up was used, enabling the make-up applied in contrasting colours, to be gradually exposed or made invisible. The change in color was not visible on the black-and-white film.
Wally Westmore's make-up for Hyde, simian and hairy with tusks influenced greatly the popular image of Hyde in media and comic books; in part this reflected the novella's implication of Hyde as embodying repressed evil and hence being semi-evolved or simian in appearance. The American Classics Illustrated edition of Jekyll and Hyde clearly based its design of Hyde on the Fredric March movie, although it is more toned down. The characters of Muriel Carew and Gen. Carew do not appear in Stevenson's original story but in the 1887 stage version by playwright Thomas Russell Sullivan.
When Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer remade the film 10 years later with Spencer Tracy in the lead, the studio bought the rights to, and then destroyed every print of the Mamoulian version that it could locate and most of the film was believed lost for decades. Ironically, the Tracy version was much less well received and March jokingly sent Tracy a telegram thanking him for the greatest boost to his reputation of his entire career.
As a result of the above transaction, this film is not owned by Universal Studios (who themselves have produced a distinctive line of horror films), unlike most other sound features produced by Paramount prior to 1950. Instead, MGM held on to the film for 45 years. The film passed on to Turner Entertainment after Ted Turner's short-lived acquisition of MGM, and then to Warner Bros. when Time Warner bought out Turner. Since then, Warner Home Video has released this film on DVD as a double feature with the 1941 version.