Bil’s rating (out of 5): BBB. USA, 1941. Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer. Screenplay by John Lee Mahin, based on the 1931 screenplay by Percy Heath, Samuel Hoffenstein, from the novel The Strange Case Of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde by Robert Louis Stevenson. Cinematography by Joseph Ruttenberg. Produced by Victor Fleming. Music by Franz Waxman. Production Design by Cedric Gibbons. Costume Design by Adrian. Film Editing by Harold F. Kress. Academy Awards 1941.
Dramatically underripe adaptation of Robert Louis Stevenson’s novel, with a miscast Spencer Tracy playing the ambitious doctor who longs to find a way to cure the human soul of its evil torments. His dabbling with potions has him discover a way to bring out the vicious, animal side of humanity, creating in him an alter ego named Hyde who abuses a kept woman (Ingrid Bergman) while the staid, proper Jekyll romances a lovely society girl (Lana Turner). Tracy’s lack of effort at Britishness and Bergman’s inability to pass herself off as a low-class London girl aside, this one would have benefited from more vigorous direction by Victor Fleming and a tighter script. As it is, there’s some wonderfully atmospheric photography that the excellent Mary Reilly would reference decades later, but otherwise it has nothing on the Fredric March version of 1932 except for superior makeup and visual effects (that really are painstakingly good for their time).