Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde from 1931

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Welcome to this review of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde from 1931. Although made numerous times, this adaption of Robert Louis Stevenson’s deeply powerful novel remains the classic, definitive version.

 

 

Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde

 

 

 

 

 

Starring: Frederic March, Miriam Hopkins, Rose Hobart

Directed by: Rouben Mamoulian

Ratings: Internet Movie Data Base; 7.7/10 …Rotten Tomatoes; 93%

Our Rating; 8/10

Available Here From: Amazon and eBay

 

 

 

 

 

51adVjBYGfL__AA160_Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde (1931). Based on the classic novel by Robert Louis Stevenson and regarded as the definitive version, this pre-censorship release is highly lurid and raw for its day.

…A brilliant scientist wants to prove the duality in man and concocts a formula that changes him into a completely uninhibited primitive brute.

And back again!

The blatant lustful cruelty shown by “Mr. Hyde” is what sets this film apart from films which merely hint at what’s happening, and why it was so disturbing to audiences of the 1930’s. …Hyde just doesn’t hold back! He’s motivated entirely by his selfish bestial instincts and cunning…alarming stuff for back then.

 

Overwhelming Frustration?

 

Along with his experiments with the dual character of man, Jekyll is at the same time, deeply frustrated by the apparent ignorance of his scientific colleagues as well as by the delay by his future Father-in-Law to grant Jekyll permission to marry his daughter.

This last situation causes Jekyll to consider a possible relationship with a dance hall girl whom he has recently come to the aid of. A relationship which Hyde will now surely seek out.


 

It’s interesting to see how well Mr. Hyde’s character comes to the surface. He literally shakes himself out of his previous state with a look of surprised liberation. Then he begins to stretch and blink as if he’s been “asleep until now. later on he walks outside and stops to taste the rain coming down. Still in a state of blissful renewal.

 

Frederick March - Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde

Drinking the formula to turn back into the respectable Dr. Jekyll

 

The transformation scenes are pretty incredible (again, for the time). The camera work is very unique and innovative, especially in the point-of-view style and the scene change effects.

 

Other Versions

A legendary performance by John Barrymore from the 1920 silent version, is remembered for Barrymore’s “natural” transformation from Jekyll to Hyde without the use of camera/special effects.

Another version coming in 1941 and starring Spencer Tracy and Ingrid Bergman is a close runner up to the version discussed here. Tracy is calculating and menacing as Hyde, and with minimal use of make-up effects.

 

…This interpretation of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde from 1931, stars Frederic March who won an Oscar for his dual portrayal of the well intentioned yet misguided Dr. Jekyll (pronounced “Jee-kyll” here) and the apelike and menacing Mr. Hyde. And Miriam Hopkins who plays an absolutely superb role as a tormented victim completely trapped and humiliated by the psychopathic Hyde.   

 

 

 

 

Thanks for checking out this review of a classic favorite. Please feel free to go ahead and leave some comments in the space below…

 

 

Available Here From Amazon and eBay

 

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21 Comments

  • Sarah says:

    I always thought that Dr. Jekyll and Mr Hyde was one of the creepiest ideas in horror stories. But I also wonder why it’s lasted through the years and is still popular, but I’ve never known many to like it very much. Do you think this old 1931 version is more thrilling because of the black and white viewing experience?

    • admin says:

      I agree Sarah! A very creepy concept. The topic of the inherent duality in man has been a fascinating idea throughout the world for centuries!

      Yes, I think there’s something very special and effective about all of these classic black and white films. They really do lend themselves well to horror!

      Thanks for your visit Sarah. Much appreciated. Jamie.

  • Geneva says:

    Just in time for Halloween! =) I really enjoyed reading the book (way back in school), and a fan of classics! This may be something I can share with my boys. I appreciate your insight, and thanks for giving me a great idea for a Halloween tradition I can start with the family.

    • admin says:

      Thanks Geneva. These old classics can be perfect idea’s for Halloween. While not being truly frightening to todays audiences, this can be a really good thing for the littlies. At the same time, showing them how horror movies were back-in-the-day and where so many classic monsters came from!

      Happy Halloween!

  • Rashaad says:

    I really like your website and the layout. The ads are a bit much, but the background image makes it very dark and scary. You have some great movies on there as well! I would suggest removing a couple ads and expanding your content a bit more. Overall great job though

  • Shawn says:

    Great review and great site. I haven’t seen a horror classic site before and i gotta say, I love it. Love the set up and the posts. As for Jekyll and Hide, I wonder if there will be any big budget remakes in the near future? Could this story be told on film without the classic film esthetic?

    • admin says:

      Grateful for your visit Shawn and thanks heaps for the encouraging feedback! I have to say, I havn’t seen too many sites dedicated to the older classics either. It’s definitely my favorite period for horror films and I really wanted to focus solely on it.

      I’d say it’s guaranteed that there will be more adaptations/remakes of this famous story. For one, it’s such an interesting/primal subject that I think it’s just too good to ignore. There’s also the news that Universal Studio’s are about to start bringing all of their Classic Monster’s back to the big screen in big budget remakes. This I think might open the gate for a ton of new interpretations of older horror story’s.

      I for one though would love to see any re-imaginings set in appropriate periods and with respect to atmosphere, story, suspense and depth. As opposed to shallow, special effects extravaganza’s which completely ignore the intrinsic power of the story anyway!

  • Stephen says:

    I can’t tell you how excited I am that I found your site. I was googling Dr. Jekyll and Mr Hyde and came across this site.

    I’m a HUGE horror movie fan. Just can’t seem to get enough. Dr. Jekyll and Mr Hyde is one of my all time favorite classic horror movies!

    A man with 2 distinct personalities, which is not only intriguing but erie. How one can hide his/her “other” side during the day, and become completely different when darkness falls.

    Thanks so much for this post and for this website. I’ll be back here often looking for updates!

    • admin says:

      I’m glad to be found my friend and very grateful for your awesome comments! I really did want this site to be exciting to the classic horror fan, so thanks for that feedback. My goal is to keep building and adding more in-depth content and info on the original greats.

      Wow, cool to hear about your fascination with the Jekyll and Hyde story. It really is intriguing isn’t it! An eternally powerful idea…the “horror” being inside rather than “out there”. …An idea that’s been around since ancient times and continues to be seen just as much in today’s world.

      Really good to have had you visit Stephen. I try to post new updates about once a week. Definitely keep checking in by all means!

      Jamie.

  • Julius says:

    That’s a pretty creepy looking film right there. Funny, I actually remember reading about it in my 5th grade of school and it was so interesting.
    These old school horror movie are kind of scary to be honest, comparing them to the modern ones. Our modern horror movies are mostly just cash grabs for companies that contain too much violence and gore.

    • admin says:

      Hello Julius, thanks for dropping in and commenting. I’ve never read the classic tale of Jekyll and Hyde…I imagine it would have been very captivating for you in the 5th grade! …Cool!

      I agree with your take on many of todays horror movies. – Jamie

  • Graham says:

    I have liked horror movies for a while. Yet when I read more about Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, I was surprised to learn Robert Louis stevenson wrote the story behind it. I thought his only famous work was treasure island. Since all the topics are from the 20’s through the 50’s, would you consider adding the 60’s too?

  • Brandy says:

    Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde is probably one of the best known horror stories out there. Whether if you have seen the movie (one of the many) or not, you at least know the story. I think that is one of the special aspects of the Jekyll/Hyde story line.

    I am quite interested in seeing this original. I can’t say that I ever have. I’m a huge fan of horror film, especially the originals. I will definitely be checking into this one!

    Thanks for the great post.

    • admin says:

      So true Bandy! The story of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde was one of the very first horror stories put to film! The first came in 1908! Others followed in 1912 and 1913.

      Two versions came in 1920 (one starring John Barrymore in a famous, riveting performance). And while the 1931 version I’ve reviewed here is considered the best adaptation, there are many more like you say.

      Really hope you get to check out this 1931 classic version Brandy. It’s still so very effective even to this day!

      Jamie.

  • Malia says:

    The Jekyll Hyde story is so sad. It’s a very interesting study of how everybody has different sides. I’m not given to watching most horror films, and I’m thinking that the story combined with black and white would be super creepy. However, I do like old movies, and your review has me intrigued. Nice job!

  • Michael Maamari says:

    Wow, your site looks ghoulishly delicious, hahaha. I have to admit, I’ve never watched this movie before. One of my favourite classics is definitely Dracula. I should spend an entire weekend just sitting in front of my computer watching old classic horror movies all day with a six pack and a bowl of cheetos, hahaha. Definitely sounds like an incredibly productive weekend if you ask me…

    • admin says:

      Heyyy…you can say that again Michael! Sounds like a perfect weekend to me my friend haha. All except the six-pack as I don’t drink. Unless of coarse they were energy drinks to help me get through all the movies lolol. Very glad to meet a fellow lover of the classic 1931 Dracula! This is the period’s best offering in my opinion!

      This film, “Jekyll and Hyde”, is another huge favorite! Thanks heaps for checking it out Michael!

  • Sandra says:

    Love the fact that you put great classics in this webpage. I hope all the success in this website. I know someone who really loves her horror movies. I will pass along your website she will love it. I have no criticism at all on the website. Good luck with your success

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