Sunday, June 11, 2017

Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde (1941) [NR] ***

A film review by Tyler Foster for on Oct. 7, 2009.

The 1941 version of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde is 30 minutes of a great movie, followed by an hour of disappointment and capped by 20 minutes of pure agony and a slightly-less-painful end. I really enjoyed Spencer Tracy's Dr. Jekyll, who's all charm and a light sense of humor. I also liked the rough-edged charm of Ingrid Bergman as a popular barmaid named Ivy, who practically falls all over herself trying to romance Dr. Jekyll. Unfortunately, Tracy also portrays Mr. Hyde, a horrible miscalculation of makeup, wigs and performance that kills the movie's momentum. By most accounts, the 1931 version with Frederic March is better because the actor gives a more terrifying performance as Hyde; it's too bad the films couldn't magically be merged, given how likable Tracy's Dr. Jekyll is.

Tracy's transformation also ruins Bergman's character, who changes wildly from a fighter to a helpless victim, sometimes within the same scene, not to mention the fact that it's just depressing to watch her spirit break whenever Hyde appears. I appreciated the occasional directorial or cinematographic flourish (like Hyde bounding across a room to grab Ivy and the subsequent shot of her backing away) and some of the foggy street scenes, but I was bored to death having to watch the laborious fade-in transformation of Jekyll to Hyde, which actually insists upon happening twice within five minutes at the very end. Still, the worst crime the film commits is that middle hour; the movie refuses to let the viewer give up, allowing just enough hope that the film might right itself at any minute.

Labels: horror, sci-fi

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