Easily the best of the many versions of the Stevenson horror classic. Although heavily made up as a jagged-toothed simian, March is memory-scarring with his weird body language and fierce posturing as Hyde, in stark contrast to the upright if simpering Jekyll. As Jekyll, courting his
unattainable fiancee (Hobart) or tampering with nature and chemistry to create the evil side of his nature in living form, March embodies the essence of gentility. As Hyde, March is truly frightening in his hideous alter ego who taunts and brutalizes a promiscuous barmaid (Hopkins). The film
reaches its exciting finale as the law confronts the grotesque Hyde, locked out of his laboratory, only to discover that he is also the respectable Dr. Jekyll.
March deservedly won an Oscar for his astonishing "dual" role (shared with Wallace Beery for THE CHAMP), but perhaps the real star of the film is director Mamoulian, whose audacious use of symbolism and careful pacing increase the mystique of this strange story. His heavy use of point-of-view
editing is entirely appropriate to the story, and Struss's outstanding photography is a marvel to behold.
Made before the Production Code clampdown in 1934, DR. JEKYLL AND MR. HYDE not only uses violence to great effect but also does not shy away from the links between horror and sexuality. During the first transformation scene Mamoulian includes a montage which makes it clear that Hyde represents
Jekyll's id, the socially and sexually repressed side of the doctor's psyche. The highly charged scenes between March and Hopkins (who's marvelous as Ivy) are the film's highlights, while those between March and the suitably demure Hobart pale by comparison. leave a comment