skip navigation
Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde

Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde(1941)

  • Wednesday, January 28 @ 03:45 PM (ET) - Reminder REMINDER
Up
Down
share:
Remind Me

TCMDb Archive MaterialsView all archives (2)

DVDs from TCM Shop

Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde A scientist's... MORE > $13.99 Regularly $27.98 Buy Now

Articles

powered by AFI

SEE ALL ARTICLES
teaser Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde (1941)

SYNOPSIS

Dr. Jekyll, an upstanding London physician, plans to marry the beautiful Beatrix Emery. Jekyll is fascinated by the idea that within each person lies two distinctly separate personalities: one good, and the other evil. Out of scientific curiosity, he begins experimenting in his lab to come up with a formula to unlock his evil side. When he does, his alter ego emerges as Mr. Hyde. With his fiance out of town, Hyde becomes dangerous, roaming the streets of London and terrifying a local barmaid, Ivy. When Beatrix returns to town, Jekyll attempts give up his double life, but soon even he can't control when or where his evil doppelganger will appear.

Director: Victor Fleming
Producer: Victor Saville
Screenplay: John Lee Mahin (based on the novella The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde by Robert Louis Stevenson)
Cinematography: Joseph Ruttenberg
Editing: Harold F. Kress
Music Composer: Franz Waxman
Art Designer: Cedric Gibbons
Costume Designer: Adrian (Gowns), Gile Steele (Men's Wardrobe)
Cast: Spencer Tracy (Dr. Henry Jekyll/Mr. Hyde), Ingrid Bergman (Ivy Peterson), Lana Turner (Beatrix Emery), Donald Crisp (Sir Charles Emery), Ian Hunter (Dr. John Lanyon), Barton MacLane (Sam Higgins), C. Aubrey Smith (The Bishop), Peter Godfrey (Poole), Sara Allgood (Mrs. Higgins), Frederic Worlock (Dr. Heath), William Tannen (Interne Fenwick), Frances Robinson (Marcia), Denis Green (Freddie), Billy Bevan (Mr. Weller), Forrester Harvey (Old Prouty), Lumsden Hare (Colonel Weymouth), Lawrence Grant (Dr. Courtland), John Barclay (Constable), Olaf Hytten (Hobson), Brandon Hurst (Briggs), Martha Wentworth (Landlady), Lionel Pape (Mr. Marley), Doris Lloyd (Mrs. Marley), Gwen Gaze (Mrs. French), Winifred Harris (Mrs. Weymouth), Lydia Bilbrook (Lady Copewell), Gwendolyn Logan (Mrs. Courtland), Hillary Brooke (Mrs. Arnold), Susanne Leach (Dowager in church), Milton Parsons (Choir master).
B&W-113m.

Why DR. JEKYLL AND MR. HYDE is Essential

A fascinating study of the duplicity of human nature, the story of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde has been forefront in the public consciousness since Robert Louis Stevenson published his novella in 1886. It's a story that has continued to fascinate people for over a century and has been adapted into hundreds of plays, films and television projects over the years.

MGM's only version of the famous story, the studio gave its 1941 glossy production a big budget and a big star in Spencer Tracy. It also featured two major actresses, Lana Turner and Ingrid Bergman, when they were at the beginning of their Hollywood careers. The film was a big boost for both of them as they both went on to become major movie stars.

Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde is unique in that it features all three of its stars - Spencer Tracy, Ingrid Bergman and Lana Turner - in roles that were markedly against type for them. The usually steadfast and naturalistic acting style of Spencer Tracy gives way to one of his broadest and most physical characterizations as the lecherous Mr. Hyde. Swedish import Ingrid Bergman was new to American films and had so far been typecast in "nice girl" roles. Frustrated with such a limitation, Bergman was desperate to prove that she was capable of more. Her role of "bad girl" Ivy established her as an actress of great range and helped propel her to a long and distinguished career in acting. Lana Turner had the opposite problem. Nicknamed early on "The Sweater Girl," the gorgeous Turner was known mostly for her looks and ability to fill out her costumes. Her role as Dr. Jekyll's respectable fiance Beatrix gave her a chance to play something more than just eye candy.

by Andrea Passafiume

back to top
teaser Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde (1941)

Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde was based on the novella The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde by Robert Louis Stevenson first published in 1886.

The first dramatization of the Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde story was a stage play in Boston produced in 1887.

Stage actor Richard Mansfield played the Dr. Jekyll/Mr. Hyde role for over 20 years in various touring productions of the play. He came to be identified with the role, which defined his acting career.

There have been over 100 films that are based on the Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde story.

John Barrymore starred in a famous silent 1920 film version of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde.

Fredric March won an Oscar® as Best Actor for his portrayal of the title character in the 1932 film version of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. His version is thought by many to be the definitive one.

There have been six Broadway productions of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde in 1887, 1899, 1904, 1905, 1906 and 1907.

Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde became a popular Broadway musical in 1997 called Jekyll and Hyde. It ran for 1543 performances and featured the Broadway debut of singer Linda Eder as the female lead.

In addition to films, plays and musicals, Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde has also been turned into spoofs, ballets and operas.

In the 1946 Warner Bros. cartoon Hare Remover Elmer Fudd drinks a potion and suffers some strange side effects. Bugs Bunny looks at the camera and refers to the 1941 film Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, "I think Spencer Tracy did it much better, don't you folks?" he says.

by Andrea Passafiume

back to top
teaser Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde (1941)

The unusual montage in which Spencer Tracy is seen whipping two horses as the sultry faces of Ingrid Bergman and Lana Turner are transposed over them was often cut out of early television broadcasts for being too suggestive.

The long time love of Spencer Tracy, Katharine Hepburn, said in a 1986 article that Tracy had originally wanted the same actress to play both the female roles in Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde.

Director Victor Fleming treated both Ingrid Bergman and Lana Turner roughly during the making of the film in order to get the reactions out of them that he wanted. Bergman loved him for it, but Turner hated working with Fleming.

Ingrid Bergman's character, the barmaid Ivy, does not exist in Robert Louis Stevenson's original story. Neither does Lana Turner's character, Beatrix.

Ingrid Bergman was originally cast in the role of Dr. Jekyll's fiance Beatrix while Lana Turner was cast as Ivy. Bergman convinced director Victor Fleming to let them switch roles so that they could play against type and prove their range as actresses.

Actresses Patricia Morrison and Susan Hayward were reportedly tested for roles in the film.

Ingrid Bergman admits in her autobiography My Story that she fell in love with director Victor Fleming while making Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. Fleming, however, did not return her feelings.

Famous Quotes from DR. JEKYLL AND MR. HYDE

JEKYLL: Sometimes we have to gamble or haven't you the courage to face what might be the most daring...
DR. HEATH: Listen, Jekyll. I wouldn't talk these experiments around very openly if I were you. You're dealing with things that would be better not to mention for your own sake...there might be trouble.
JEKYLL: Trouble! Trouble!

JEKYLL (to Mrs. Marley): You know, I don't mind being scolded by the smartest hostess in London.

JEKYLL: Well, let me put it this way. Good and evil are so close as to be chained together in the soul. Now suppose we could break that chain. Separate those two selves. Free the good in man and let it go on to its higher destiny.

BISHOP MANNERS: Suppose we believe that man's soul has not yet reached its fulfillment. Is is wise? Is it right to tap over the problem until the creator himself has solved it in his own mysterious way?

SIR CHARLES EMERY (to Jekyll): You're a coming man in your profession. I'm very proud of you but these ridiculous experiments won't get you anywhere. You must give them up. Develop your practice. Cultivate the circle in which you and Beatrice should move.

JEKYLL (to Ivy): I'll tell you one thing. You wear your garter too tight. That stops the circulation...that's bad.

JEKYLL (to Beatrice): I make my own luck my dear. Yes, tonight, and tonight I followed the rainbow.

IVY: I ain't afraid of nobody.

MR. HYDE: When you went to see the good doctor, before you left you said...I almost thought, well what did you think? Maybe that you saw a little bit of ME, Hyde in him?

IVY: If I could only do it, I'd go down to the river.

JEKYLL: If you don't stop looking at me like that, I won't be responsible for what happens.
BEATRICE: Aren't public places awful sometimes?

IVY (displaying her scar): Pretty, ain't it? Did you ever see anything like that before?
JEKYLL: I'll get you some lotion.
IVY: Lotion? Twon't be lotion that'll do the trick sir. It's more than that. I need help. I can't stand it anymore. It's Hyde sir. It's a man I know.

Compiled by Andrea Passafiume

back to top
teaser Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde (1941)

Robert Louis Stevenson published the novella The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde in 1886. The fascinating tale of an upstanding doctor whose hedonistic impulses are unleashed after he drinks a potion he develops in his laboratory was an immediate hit with the public. Within a year the first two stage adaptations opened in Boston and London and were also great successes.

By the time MGM decided to make their own film version of the story, The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde had already been brought to the silver screen several times. There had been a handful of silent versions, the most notable of which starred John Barrymore in 1920. In 1931 the first sound version of the classic was released through Paramount Studios starring Fredric March in the dual role. The film was a huge hit and won March the Academy Award as Best Actor for his remarkable performance.

A decade later MGM, the most powerful studio in Hollywood, wanted to do a remake of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. They bought the rights to Paramount's 1932 version which had been such a success for them and planned to give Dr. Jekyll the MGM treatment, which meant big budget, big stars and high gloss.

To play both Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde MGM wanted one of its top stars, Spencer Tracy. A serious actor with decidedly non-matinee idol looks, Tracy had joined MGM in 1935 and quickly won the Academy Award as Best Actor twice for his roles in Captains Courageous (1937) and Boys Town (1938). Being under contract, Tracy was assigned the role, but he did not want to do it. Tracy was a naturalistic actor, and Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde would require him to wear extensive make-up and play his part in a much more over-the-top style than he desired. Besides, Fredric March had won the Academy Award for playing the role ten years earlier and was still famously associated with the character of Jekyll/Hyde. Tracy didn't want his performance to be compared to such a definitive one. He resisted, but MGM pushed.

Finally MGM convinced Spencer Tracy to make the film. Tracy had relented when he found out that his old friend Victor Fleming was going to direct. Fleming had directed Tracy earlier in Test Pilot (1938) and Captains Courageous which had won him the Oscar® for Best Actor. Tracy made it clear that his interpretation would be different from Fredric March's performance and that he would make the part his own. He also made the stipulation that unlike March, he would use minimal make-up for his Mr. Hyde character. He wanted to use his face and body language to convey the monstrous nature of Hyde more than special effects and MGM agreed.

Ingrid Bergman was under contract to David O. Selznick when she was loaned out to MGM for Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. Bergman was new to Hollywood at the time and had only made three American films up to that point. Back in Sweden, her home country, she had been a big star playing a wide variety of roles and she was trying to launch a new career in America.

Bergman was thrilled when she was told by Selznick that she would be co-starring with Spencer Tracy, whom she had always deeply admired as an actor. When she found out that she was supposed to play Dr. Jekyll's innocent fiance Beatrix, she was disappointed. She wanted to play the saucy barmaid Ivy, which was already assigned to MGM "Sweater Girl" Lana Turner. "Naturally, as always, I'd been given the part of the sweet fiance," Bergman wrote in her 1981 autobiography My Story, "because now I had played three parts almost the same. In Intermezzo [1939] I played the nice piano teacher. In Adam [1941] the nice housekeeper, in Rage in Heaven [1941] I was the nice refugee. Now they gave me the part of another sweet girl in Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, and I really was fed up having to play it again."

Bergman went to director Victor Fleming and asked if she and Lana Turner could switch roles. "That's impossible," said Fleming according to Bergman. "How can you with your looks? It's not to be believed." Bergman replied, "What do you know? You look at me and you look at the three pictures I've done and you know it's the same part I'm playing, but I am an actress!" She asked if she could do a screen test doing the part of Ivy to prove that she could handle the role. Fleming told her that Selznick would never agree to let her do it. She asked to do one anyway without telling Selznick. Fleming was still skeptical, but he agreed to arrange for a secret test. "In great secrecy Victor [Fleming] got a cameraman and a crew one night and I did the test," said Bergman. "A lot of people afterwards asked me why. To begin with I loved this girl, this barmaid Ivy. I thought about her all the time. I thought how she would react, how she would behave. Besides, I simply had to get a different part; I could not remain typed as a Hollywood peaches-and-cream girl."

To his great surprise, Victor Fleming loved the test and agreed for Bergman and Lana Turner to switch roles, but first he had to get David O. Selznick's approval. Selznick resisted, however. "You see," explained Bergman in her autobiography, "David believed the Hollywood legend: the elevator boy always plays the elevator boy, the drunk's a drunk, the nurse always a nurse. In Hollywood you got yourself one role and played it forever. That's what the audience wants to see, they said, the same old performance, the familiar face." Fleming assured Selznick that once he saw Bergman's test he would agree that she was right for the part of Ivy and he was right. Finally Selznick agreed to allow Bergman to play against type, and Bergman was elated. Doing the role meant everything to her. It would allow her to prove that she was an actress of great range, capable of much more than the nice ingenue roles. "Dr. Jekyll was the first part I played in American films in which I completely changed my character," she later said.

Lana Turner didn't have any objection to playing Dr. Jekyll's fiance Beatrix. Like Ingrid Bergman, Turner was relatively new to the Hollywood scene and had been immediately typecast in eye candy roles, showcasing little more than her beautiful face and figure. When she first heard that she had been assigned the role of Ivy, she was apprehensive. "When I read the script," she wrote in her 1982 autobiography Lana, "I recognized the range of emotions the part required. I wasn't sure I had the strength to play it." She went to MGM head Louis B. Mayer to express her reservations. "If you want me for Ivy," she said, "I don't think I can do it. I'm too young, and well...I'm afraid. That role is so deep, I don't know if I could trust a director enough to let me try to reach those emotions." Without offering any argument, Mayer told her that she could play the good girl role of Beatrix instead. Ingrid Bergman's desire to switch parts was never mentioned in the meeting, according to Turner, and she had no idea at the time how much Bergman wanted to play Ivy. "They didn't hire [Bergman] until I begged out of the part," said Turner. "Now that I know how much she wanted the role, I'm pleased for her sake that I withdrew."

by Andrea Passafiume

back to top
teaser Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde (1941)

Filming on Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde began in February 1941 at MGM studios in Culver City, California. For star Spencer Tracy it was never a particularly happy experience. "Spencer Tracy wasn't really very happy...because he didn't like doing these two characterizations: the sane doctor and the monster Mr. Hyde," said Ingrid Bergman in her 1981 autobiography My Story. "He wanted to play himself, his own personality, which of course was the warm and marvelous personality that had made him a great movie star. He hated playing this double-natured character, showing the hideous reality of the brutal and evil man lying within Dr. Jekyll." Although he kept it to an absolute minimum, Tracy also hated having to wear makeup in order to play Mr. Hyde. He felt it was a nuisance and wanted to convey Mr. Hyde's monstrousness through facial expressions and body language. Unfortunately, the minimal makeup was confusing to some. MGM director George Cukor was visiting the set one day and brought with him the writer W. Somerset Maugham to observe filming. Maugham looked at Spencer Tracy and reportedly said, "Which [one] is he now?"

Tracy also had trouble with the physicality that the dual role demanded. In particular, he didn't like doing the scene in which Mr. Hyde was supposed to carry Ivy up a flight of stairs, presumably to the bedroom. At 41 the unathletic Tracy was no spring chicken, and at 5' 9" Ingrid Bergman was no featherweight. The scene was an absurd situation for both, according to Bergman. To demonstrate how Tracy should do the scene, director Victor Fleming demonstrated it first himself. "Big and strong, [Fleming] picked me up and ran up the stairs as if I weighed nothing," said Bergman. "Spencer wailed, 'What about my hernia?' So they rigged up a sling which supported me so they could hoist me upward while Spencer hung on and raced up behind me looking as if he were carrying me. But it wasn't that easy. First they hauled me up so fast that Spencer just couldn't keep up, and Victor Fleming said, 'Take her up at a natural pace...It was most difficult. Up and down, up and down, for the whole rehearsal time. Then, on the twentieth attempt, the rope broke. I dropped down into Spencer's arms. He couldn't hold me, and we went rolling head over heels to the bottom of the stairs. How either of us was not injured I'll never know. It was just a miracle. But there we were at the bottom helpless with laughter, roaring with laughter, while Victor came racing up, all sympathy and concern, but really so relieved that both his stars were not hurt and could continue to work."

While Spencer Tracy was miserable making Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, Ingrid Bergman was elated. She thrived playing a part so different from her usual roles and relished the chance to show American audiences what she was capable of. "I wanted to be different," she said, "to try my hand at everything, to play every part in the world." During filming she wrote in her personal journal, "Shall I never be happier in my work? Will I ever get a better part than the little girl Ivy Petersen, a better director than Victor Fleming, a more wonderful leading man than Spencer Tracy, and a better cameraman than Joe Ruttenberg? I have never been happier. Never have I given myself so completely. For the first time I have broken out from the cage which encloses me, and opened a shutter to the outside world...I am so happy for this picture. It is as if I were flying. I feel no chains. I can fly higher and higher because the bars of my cage are broken."

Working with Victor Fleming was a dream come true for Bergman, who described him as "marvelous." "Although I'd known many fine directors in Sweden," she said, "this man added another dimension to what I'd known before. As soon as he came close to me I could tell by his eyes what he wanted me to do, and this has happened with very few directors in my career; I could tell if he was satisfied, in doubt, or delighted. He got performances out of me which very often I didn't think I was capable of." Even though Fleming's methods could sometimes be unorthodox, Bergman still praised him. "The scene when he wanted a frightened distraught hysterical girl, faced by the terrifying Mr. Hyde I just couldn't do it. So eventually he took me by the shoulder with one hand, spun me around, and struck me backwards and forwards across the face hard it hurt. I could feel the tears of what? surprise, shame running down my cheeks. I was shattered by his action. I stood there weeping while he strode back to the camera and shouted, 'Action!' Even the camera crew were struck dumb, as I wept my way through the scene. But he got the performance he wanted."

Some on-set gossips had let it slip that they believed that Bergman was having an affair with co-star Spencer Tracy, but it wasn't true. It was Victor Fleming she had fallen in love with. "By the time the film was over I was deeply in love with Victor Fleming," she said. "But he wasn't in love with me. I was just part of another picture he'd directed."

Lana Turner was not so enamored with Victor Fleming and his literal hands-on methods. While doing the scene in which Dr. Jekyll tells her character Beatrix that they can never be married, she was having trouble finding enough emotion to cry. After a couple of takes in which she could not produce the required tears, Fleming repeated what he had done with Bergman. "'Cut!' Fleming yelled," said Turner in her 1982 autobiography Lana. "Then he rushed over to me, grabbed my arm, and twisted it sharply behind my back, where he held it for so long I feared he would break it. 'Stop it!' I screamed. 'You're hurting me!' And tears rolled down my face. Out of either pain or sheer fury, I not only started crying but went on crying so hard and so long that my nose was red and my eyes were swollen. Makeup didn't do any good. They could only shoot Spencer for the rest of the day, while I gave him my lines off-camera. I heard later that Spencer had wanted to take a poke at Fleming for being so rough with me." Turner never made another film with him.

Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde opened in August 1941 and was a solid hit. The MGM brass were happy. Even though audiences liked it, Spencer Tracy took an unprecedented beating from the critics who generally felt he was miscast in the role. It didn't help that his performance was compared to Fredric March's Academy Award-winning role in the 1932 version. The gracious March publicly lent his support to Tracy. "I thought Spence did a fine job," he said, "as he always does. His Jekyll and Hyde weren't anything like mine, but why should they be? After all, we're two different actors, aren't we? I'm sure Spence would never look at a performance and try to copy it."

Ingrid Bergman's performance as the terrorized Ivy, however, was highly praised. Playing Ivy did exactly what she had hoped it would do: it opened up her career to a wide variety of roles and set her on course for a long and distinguished career as an actress.

Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde went on to be nominated for three Academy Awards for Best Cinematography, Best Editing and Best Musical Score.

by Andrea Passafiume

back to top
teaser Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde (1941)

In Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde (1941), Victor Fleming's retelling of the famous Robert Louis Stevenson story, Spencer Tracy plays the refined and respected Dr. Jekyll, a man who is fascinated with his recent studies of the human mind. He believes each person has a good side and a dark side, which can be controlled with the proper chemicals. After mixing a concoction that successfully transforms him into his alter ego, Mr. Hyde, he embarks on a wild night on the town where he indulges his darkest fantasies with a prostitute named Ivy (Ingrid Bergman). Lust quickly turns to sadism and homicidal rage as Dr. Jekyll loses control of the experiment and begins transforming without the drugs.

Although Robert Donat was originally considered for the dual role of Jekyll and Hyde, Spencer Tracy became the favored choice and Louis B. Mayer pressured him to take the role against his wishes. Among Tracy's objections were his hatred of elaborate makeup and the general consensus that the 1932 version with Fredric March was a masterpiece so why remake it? Eventually, Tracy accepted the challenge, possibly intrigued by the dual nature of the role, which had close parallels to his own off-screen struggles with alcohol. He also wanted Ivy and Beatrix to be played by the same actress - Katharine Hepburn - to reinforce the theme of the good and bad qualities in every individual. Instead, Victor Fleming chose two actresses but cast them both against type. Ingrid Bergman, who had only played "good girls" up to this point in her American film career, won the role of the prostitute, Ivy. Lana Turner, whose sex appeal was already legendary in Hollywood (the entertainment press had nicknamed her "the sweater girl"), got to wear billowy nineteenth-century gowns by Adrian for her role as Jekyll's elegant fiancee.

Critics have been somewhat uncharitable over the years of this version of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, and particularly critical of Spencer Tracy's performance in it. It was once said that Somerset Maugham, while visiting the set, whispered to Fleming while studying Tracy's performance, "Which one is he now, Jekyll or Hyde?" Part of the problem lies with the fact that the Hays Code was already well established, imposing strict censorship on the material. It was also unfairly compared (just as Tracy feared) to Rouben Mamoulian's stylish 1932, pre-Code version which many film historians consider the best production of this oft-filmed tale. Mamoulian's interpretation has a sexual frankness that is crucial to an understanding of Dr. Jekyll's conflicted character. In Fleming's version, the foundation to explain the sexual violence that Jekyll exhibits once he transforms into Hyde is never fully developed.

Nevertheless, Fleming's take on Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde remains one of the best interpretations of the Stevenson story for many reasons. For one thing, Fleming wisely puts the focus on Bergman's character and she delivers a striking performance as Ivy. By moving her to center stage, Fleming filled that motivational void for Tracy with a desire that makes his character, and the film, much more fully realized. The film also boasts excellent production values from the handsome set design to the period costumes and was awarded three Academy Award nominations for Best Cinematography, Best Editing and Best Music Score. And let's not forget that bizarre, Freudian dream sequence where Hyde is whipping two horses that suddenly transform into Ivy and Beatrix! This scene was often cut from television prints for obvious reasons.

Director/Producer: Victor Fleming
Screenplay: John Lee Mahin (based on the novel, The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde by Robert Louis Stevenson)
Cinematography: Joseph Ruttenberg
Art Direction: Cedric Gibbons, Daniel B. Cathcart
Editor: Harold F. Kress
Music: Franz Waxman
Special Effects: Warren Newcombe, Peter Ballbusch
Cast: Spencer Tracy (Dr. Harry Jekyll/Mr. Hyde), Ingrid Bergman (Ivy Peterson), Lana Turner (Beatrix Emery), Donald Crisp (Sir Charles Emery), Ian Hunter (Dr. John Lanyon), Barton MacLane (Sam Higgins), C. Aubrey Smith (The Bishop).
BW-114m. Closed captioning. Descriptive video.

by Michael Toole

back to top
teaser Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde (1941)

AWARDS AND HONORS

Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde was nominated for three Academy Awards including Best Cinematography, Best Editing and Best Musical Score.

The Critics' Corner: DR. JEKYLL AND MR. HYDE"Let's be gentle and begin by admitting that the new film version of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde has a point or two in its favor. It has, for instance, one Ingrid Bergman: as the luckless barmaid pursued and tortured by an evil she could not understand, the young Swedish actress proves again that a shining talent can sometimes lift itself above an impossibly written role. There is also at least one superbly photographed chase of the maddened Hyde running amok through the fog-bound London streets, his cape billowing behind him like a vision of terror. The film has, finally, the extraordinarily polished production that only Hollywood's technical wizards can achieve...Mr. Tracy has taken the short end of the stick by choice. Though his facial changes, as he alternates between Dr. Jekyll and his evil alter ego, may be a trifle subtler than his predecessors in the role, Mr. Tracy's portrait of Hyde is not so much evil incarnate as it is the ham rampant. When his eyes roll in a fine frenzy like loose marbles in his head he is more ludicrous than dreadful."
The New York Times

"Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde...is such a pretentious resurrection of Robert Louis Stevenson's ghoulish classic that it might well serve as a final mausoleum for the bones of the ill-fated Harley Street medico and his test-tube twin. Durable Spencer Tracy, a cinemactor who can really act, plays Dr. Jekyll and Friend Hyde for more than they are worth...This unfortunate portrayal is the result of actor Tracy's and director Victor Fleming's...refusal to play the hoary fable for its horror. They have dressed it up with overtones of Freud in which Tracy's transformation to Hyde is accompanied by symbolic montage shots...Only grave, good-looking, lyrical Ingrid Bergman wrings credit from the tortured script. Her portrayal of the unfortunate barmaid who charms Jekyll only to fall victim to Hyde's sadism is a refreshing element in a preposterous part. As for Lana Turner, fully clad for a change, and the rest of the cast...they are as wooden as their roles."
- Time Magazine

"In the evident striving to make Jekyll a 'big' film, by elaborating the theme and introducing new characters and situations, some of the finer psychological points are dulled...Nevertheless, it has its highly effective moments, and Spencer Tracy plays the dual roles with conviction. His transformations from the young physician, bent on biological and mental research as an escape from his own moral weaknesses, to the demoniac Mr. Hyde are brought about with considerably less alterations in face and stature than audiences might expect. Ingrid Bergman plays the enslaved victim of Hyde's debauches. In every scene in which the two appear, she is Tracy's equal as a strong screen personality."
- Variety

"Not a patch on Mamoulian's 1932 version, since it jettisons the overt sexuality....and never really allows us to identify with the demonic protagonist, thus forfeiting the opportunity to make the audience complicitous in his guilt. Furthermore, though Bergman...makes a reasonable barmaid, Turner is badly miscast as the upmarket fiance. Well shot by Joseph Ruttenberg, and the transformations are effectively handled, but it's generally shallow and anemic.
- Geoff Andrew, TimeOut Film Guide

"Poor Spencer Tracy comes up far behind either of his predecessors in the 1941 version. Evil just wasn't his thing, not on the screen at least. But Lana Turner and Ingrid Bergman are as young and lovely as anyone could wish, and there's a great dream sequence in which Spence wildly lashes a whip over the gals' heads while they pull his chariot.
- Alan Vanneman, Bright Lights Film Journal

"Tracy and Bergman are excellent in thoughtful, lush remake of Robert Louis Stevenson's classic, which stresses Hyde's emotions rather than physical horror."
- Leonard Maltin's Movie & Video Guide

"While director Victor Fleming creates a very literary-minded film, he misses the point of making a horror movie, removing much of the sadism and sordidness necessary to make Robert Louis Stevenson's story play well in the cinematic medium. Instead, we're left with something that's pretty, but ultimately hollow. Stripped of its dark underbelly, Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde leaves us with the feeling that, despite this all-star team, the results could have been much better."
- Nate Yapp, classic-horror.com

Compiled by Andrea Passafiume

back to top