Dr. Jekyll And Mr. Hyde

1941, Movie, NR, 127 mins


MGM gave the familiar story the big-budget, big-star treatment, but in the process drained it of all of its biting social and psychological implications. Spencer Tracy, who was assigned the Jekyll/Hyde role against his wishes, is woefully miscast and sinks into hokum characterization, rolling his eyes like loose marbles and working his jaw like a maniac. Ingrid Bergman was scheduled to play the sweet fiancee and Lana Turner the barmaid, but director Victor Fleming supposedly reversed the roles at Bergman's request, effectively casting them against type. Visually, the film is stodgy, save for a few standout moments: notably the shot wherein Turner's reflection appears inside a huge enlargement of Hyde's lustful eye, and the somewhat laughable sequence that depicts two horses, one black and one white, being wildly whipped by Hyde, their heads transformed into Bergman and Turner, two gorgeous females in the altogether (head and shoulder shots). Though he tried hard, Tracy's portrayal, which was lauded at the time, doesn't begin to approach Fredric March's superb 1932 enactment or John Barrymore's silent interpretation. One visitor to the set, author Somerset Maugham, watched Tracy closely, noting his rigorous transformations, then crushingly whispered to director Fleming: "Which one is he now, Jekyll or Hyde?" The film earned Oscar nominations for Best Cinematography, Best Score, and Best Editing. leave a comment

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Dr. Jekyll And Mr. Hyde
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