Welcome, children of the night! This Blog is for fans of vintage horror films as well as those who are just beginning to discover the joy of these classic movies. I'd love to hear from you!

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde (1931)

In 1920 John Barrymore gave us a tour-de-force performance in the silent version of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde.  It was inevitable that a "talkie" would come along to tell this Robert Lewis Stevenson story to a new generation.  So in the year that Universal Studio unleashed one of the golden eras of horror with Dracula and Frankenstein, Paramount Pictures gave us Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde.
Director Rouben Mamoulian and cinematographer Karl Struss [The Fly, The Great Dictator] give us a beautifully crafted film that stacks up with the greats of the 1930's.  They also have Frederic March who nearly fills the shoes of Barrymore as Jekyll/Hyde.  The only drawback to his performance is the over-the-top, ridiculous make-up he wears as Hyde who has a bigger set of false teeth than is necessary or useful.  I would have loved to have seen what Jack Pierce would have come up with...but he was a busy man in 1931, doing the make-up for both Dracula and Frankenstein.
The studio should have trusted March's talent as an actor who could have made a compelling Hyde without the bad hair and facial prosthetics.  The make-up gets in the way of his performance rather than enhancing it.  Yet, in spite of this, March's Hyde is dark and unsettling.  His violence toward women is often subtle in the film but this makes it even more disturbing to watch. March's Hyde is definitely the star of this show and all the other characters serve to enhance March's skillful performance.
All in all, this is a very enjoyable version of the classic Jekyll/Hyde story that is often overlooked by the majority of horror fans who are usually drawn to Dracula and Frankenstein.  Don't miss it. 
RATING: Excellent.
For more info check out the film's entry in IMDB.

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