The Son of Dr. Jekyll


1h 17m 1951

Brief Synopsis

The son of the notorious scientist fights to clear his father's name.

Film Details

Genre
Horror
Release Date
Oct 1951
Premiere Information
not available
Production Company
Columbia Pictures Corp.
Distribution Company
Columbia Pictures Corp.
Country
United States
Screenplay Information
Inspired the novella The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde by Robert Louis Stevenson (London, 1886).

Technical Specs

Duration
1h 17m
Sound
Mono
Color
Black and White
Theatrical Aspect Ratio
1.37 : 1
Film Length
8 reels

Synopsis

In the summer of 1890, a reporter for the London Daily Bulletin receives an anonymous note about the dismissal of Edward Utterson, adopted son of eminent attorney John Utterson, from the Royal Academy of Sciences for persisting in experiments bordering on witchcraft. At the Science Exposition, Edward, undaunted by his expulsion, enthusiastically plans to continue his studies abroad and proposes to his sweetheart Lynn, who happily accepts. Edward's mentor, well-known psychologist Curtis Lanyon, is concerned about Edward's situation, and takes him to a local club, where he divulges Edward's true parentage: his mother was an actress and his father a distinguished scientist whose failed research brought about depression and madness that led to the murder of his wife and his own death. Realizing that Lanyon is relating the infamous story of Dr. Henry Jekyll, a stunned Edward hastens to tell Lynn. Edward resolves to take up his true identity, and asks Lynn to postpone their marriage until he can clear the mystery and suspicion that surrounds the Jekyll name. That evening, Edward visits the abandoned Jekyll residence and is discovered by the local constable. The newspapers report the story, and Edward's claims to be Jekyll's son, and imply that the residence is haunted. Edward restores the Jekyll home and moves in, setting up a laboratory. Lanyon then provides Edward with his father's handwritten notes on experiments in changing human personality, and Edward concludes that if he can recreate his father's experiment successfully, he can clear his name. A few days later, Edward receives a letter from former vaudevillian Lottie Sarelle, who claims to have been a friend of his mother. When Edward visits Lottie, she divulges that she witnessed Edward's father murder his mother in a fury, but Edward refuses to believe her. The press continues to hound Edward and publicize fantastic rumors about the Jekylls, while Edward proceeds daily with unsuccessful trials of his father's experiment. Lynn grows concerned about Edward's obsession, although she is relieved to discover that he has hired his father's stoic old assistant, Michaels. One night, Michaels is awakened by sounds in the laboratory. Down in the lab, Lanyon secretly adds an ingredient to Edward's partially completed formula and slips out before Michaels investigates. The next day Edward's experiment is successful for the first time, and he summons the press, Lynn and Lanyon for a demonstration, which is a failure. Depressed, Edward accepts an invitation from Lottie's son Joe to meet for a few drinks. Later that evening when a young boy, one of the constant crowd of hecklers outside Edward's house, is assaulted, Edward is arrested as a suspect. At the subsequent hearing, the Sarelles testify against Edward, who is released into Lanyon's custody. Edward sneaks away to question the Sarelles only to discover they have fled. An empty box leads Edward to a music store, where he finds Joe's pawned accordion and the family's address. At the Sarelles', Edward encounters Joe's wife Hazel, but before they can talk, Joe appears and the men fight. As a constable breaks up their row, Hazel leaves a note for Edward in the accordion, asking him to meet her at Lottie's old flat that night. When Edward arrives that evening, he finds Hazel murdered and sees a man fleeing. The police search for Edward, who hides at Lynn's. She summons John, but he disbelieves Edward's story and suggests he killed Hazel in a fit of madness. Meanwhile, Lanyon meets with Joe, who demands more money for the part he and his the family have played in deceiving Edward. Later, Edward voices his mounting suspicion to John and Lynn about Lanyon and goes to visit Michaels, who startles Edward by mentioning a particular drug in his father's experiments. Aware that that information is not in the notes, Edward realizes Lanyon has set him up and asks Lynn to retrieve the notes from Lanyon. Though doubtful, she agrees, but tells Lanyon about Edward's suspicions. When she brings Edward the notes, he notices that they are faked and risks going to his laboratory to get the originals. Lanyon arrives before him and attempts to burn the notes but Edward's arrival interferes. Lanyon explains that Jekyll's experiments ruined him and he wanted the Jekyll estate to recoup his losses. Lanyon then knocks Edward out and leaves him in the burning laboratory, where he is rescued by Michaels. The crowd that has gathered outside believe Lanyon to be Edward and force him back into the house. While trying to escape across the roof, Lanyon falls to his death in the flames.

Film Details

Genre
Horror
Release Date
Oct 1951
Premiere Information
not available
Production Company
Columbia Pictures Corp.
Distribution Company
Columbia Pictures Corp.
Country
United States
Screenplay Information
Inspired the novella The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde by Robert Louis Stevenson (London, 1886).

Technical Specs

Duration
1h 17m
Sound
Mono
Color
Black and White
Theatrical Aspect Ratio
1.37 : 1
Film Length
8 reels

Articles

The Son of Dr. Jekyll


The origins of Columbia Pictures' The Son of Dr. Jekyll (1951), which followed MGM's Spencer Tracy remake of the Robert Louis Stevenson novella The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde by ten years and Paramount's Academy Award® winning version (starring Fredric March) by twenty, began with belly laughs instead of shudders. Entertaining the idea of preposterous film titles which they thought might appeal to moviegoers, writers Jack Pollexfen (a former newspaperman turned Hollywood writer/producer) and Mortimer Braus (a longtime employee of Columbia's second feature "B hive") were so tickled by the sound of The Son of Dr. Jekyll that they immediately set about cobbling together an original scenario. To the partners' surprise, the studio snapped it up and passed the material to Edward Huebsch to turn into a shooting script. Slated for a quick three-week shoot, the production was placed in the care of journeyman director Seymour Friedman, with matinee idol Louis Hayward in the title roles. Hayward had just played a dual role in Pirates of Capri (1949) for Jack Pollexfen's pal Edgar Ulmer but this time out bore a quadruple responsibility, cast as Jekyll père et fills, Hyde, Jr. and the original Mr. H. Getting to play two creatures (albeit under the same makeup) afforded the customarily dashing Hayward the chance to ugly it up a bit. Whereas trailers for MGM's A-list Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde coyly withheld Spencer Tracy's monster mug from prospective ticket buyers, Columbia wore its fiend on its sleeve, making Hayward's Mr. Hyde the biggest thing on the poster.

The Son of Dr. Jekyll was released on Halloween day 1951, at a time when interest in movie monsters had slowed from a pre-World War II deluge to a thin postwar trickle. The heyday of the trendsetting Universal monster rallies had come and gone, bracketed on the far side by the success of Tod Browning's Dracula (1931) and seventeen years afterwards by Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein (1948), which poked good natured fun at heretofore po-faced ghoulies. Five years after the detonation of atomic bombs at Hiroshima and Nagasaki, science fiction was the rage, with The Thing from Another World and The Day the Earth Stood Still (1951) making a killing at the box office and whetting appetites for the big beast terrors of Them! (1954), The Beast from 20,000 Fathoms (1953) and It Came from Beneath the Sea (1955).

Although Gothic horrors were largely déclassé in the first years of the Cold War epoch, the archetype of a decent soul making a man of his dark half adapted easily to the idiom of sci-fi, in which scientists were always meddling in God's domain. United Artists' The Neanderthal Man (1953) and The Vampire (1957) and Universal's Monster on the Campus (1958) were thinly disguised Jekyll and Hyde tales, and even Bud and Lou got into the act with Abbott and Costello Meet Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde (1953). (If Karloff's Mr. Hyde and the throwback of Monster on the Campus seem to share an uncanny likeness, both were the creations of makeup man Bud Westmore.) Jack Pollexfen returned to the well near the decade's end with Daughter of Dr. Jekyll (1957) around the time that Great Britain's Hammer Studios revived interest in both Gothic monsters and period settings.

After an opening scene in which the monstrous Edward Hyde is mobbed to death by London vigilantes, The Son of Dr. Jekyll flashes forward to the waning years of the Victorian era. Adopted as an infant by Henry Jekyll's friend Utterson (a character who appears in Stevenson's original tale), Hayward's Edward Jekyll is introduced in blissful ignorance of his convoluted bloodline. Inheriting the family mansion on the eve of his wedding, Edward finds himself unpopular with the neighbors, prompting full disclosure of the unpleasantness of the past. In a fit of familial pique, young Edward declares that "legends don't die, they have to be killed" and sets about recreating his father's experiment in a bid to clear his name. Playing fast and loose with the J&H mythos, the script makes pointed allusions to the then-raging "Red Scare" in America and the frenzy to name and punish Communists and their sympathizers. It should come as no surprise that Huebsch himself had been blacklisted for ducking a HUAC subpoena. "Burning witches has always been a popular sport," Hayward's avenging son comments in the film, which reveals itself to be – spoiler warning – a standard horror tale wrapped around the film noir conceit of an innocent man framed for a crime he didn't commit. While Edward Jekyll survives the mob's wrath and commitment to a lunatic asylum to see his name (if not his father's) cleared, Edward Huebsch remained a blacklisted and uncredited writer until the release of Robert Aldrich's Twilight's Last Gleaming (to which he contributed) in 1977.

Director: Seymour Friedman
Screenplay: Mortimer Braus, Jack Pollexfen
Cinematography: Henry Freulich
Art Direction: Walter Holscher
Music: Paul Sawtell
Film Editing: Gene Havlick
Cast: Louis Hayward (Edward Jekyll/Dr. Henry Hyde), Jody Lawrance (Lynn Utterson), Alexander Knox (Dr. Curtis Lanyon), Lester Matthews (Sir John Utterson), Gavin Muir (Richard Daniels), Paul Cavanagh (Inspector Stoddard), Rhys Williams (Michaels).
BW-78m.

by Richard Harland Smith

Sources:

Jack Pollexfen interview, Interviews with B Science Fiction and Horror Movie Directors by Tom Weaver, Michael Brunas and John Brunas
American Gothic: Sixty Years of Horror Cinema by Jonathan Rigby
The Inquisition in Hollywood: Politics in the Film Community 1930-1960 by Larry Ceplair and Steven
The Son Of Dr. Jekyll

The Son of Dr. Jekyll

The origins of Columbia Pictures' The Son of Dr. Jekyll (1951), which followed MGM's Spencer Tracy remake of the Robert Louis Stevenson novella The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde by ten years and Paramount's Academy Award® winning version (starring Fredric March) by twenty, began with belly laughs instead of shudders. Entertaining the idea of preposterous film titles which they thought might appeal to moviegoers, writers Jack Pollexfen (a former newspaperman turned Hollywood writer/producer) and Mortimer Braus (a longtime employee of Columbia's second feature "B hive") were so tickled by the sound of The Son of Dr. Jekyll that they immediately set about cobbling together an original scenario. To the partners' surprise, the studio snapped it up and passed the material to Edward Huebsch to turn into a shooting script. Slated for a quick three-week shoot, the production was placed in the care of journeyman director Seymour Friedman, with matinee idol Louis Hayward in the title roles. Hayward had just played a dual role in Pirates of Capri (1949) for Jack Pollexfen's pal Edgar Ulmer but this time out bore a quadruple responsibility, cast as Jekyll père et fills, Hyde, Jr. and the original Mr. H. Getting to play two creatures (albeit under the same makeup) afforded the customarily dashing Hayward the chance to ugly it up a bit. Whereas trailers for MGM's A-list Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde coyly withheld Spencer Tracy's monster mug from prospective ticket buyers, Columbia wore its fiend on its sleeve, making Hayward's Mr. Hyde the biggest thing on the poster. The Son of Dr. Jekyll was released on Halloween day 1951, at a time when interest in movie monsters had slowed from a pre-World War II deluge to a thin postwar trickle. The heyday of the trendsetting Universal monster rallies had come and gone, bracketed on the far side by the success of Tod Browning's Dracula (1931) and seventeen years afterwards by Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein (1948), which poked good natured fun at heretofore po-faced ghoulies. Five years after the detonation of atomic bombs at Hiroshima and Nagasaki, science fiction was the rage, with The Thing from Another World and The Day the Earth Stood Still (1951) making a killing at the box office and whetting appetites for the big beast terrors of Them! (1954), The Beast from 20,000 Fathoms (1953) and It Came from Beneath the Sea (1955). Although Gothic horrors were largely déclassé in the first years of the Cold War epoch, the archetype of a decent soul making a man of his dark half adapted easily to the idiom of sci-fi, in which scientists were always meddling in God's domain. United Artists' The Neanderthal Man (1953) and The Vampire (1957) and Universal's Monster on the Campus (1958) were thinly disguised Jekyll and Hyde tales, and even Bud and Lou got into the act with Abbott and Costello Meet Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde (1953). (If Karloff's Mr. Hyde and the throwback of Monster on the Campus seem to share an uncanny likeness, both were the creations of makeup man Bud Westmore.) Jack Pollexfen returned to the well near the decade's end with Daughter of Dr. Jekyll (1957) around the time that Great Britain's Hammer Studios revived interest in both Gothic monsters and period settings. After an opening scene in which the monstrous Edward Hyde is mobbed to death by London vigilantes, The Son of Dr. Jekyll flashes forward to the waning years of the Victorian era. Adopted as an infant by Henry Jekyll's friend Utterson (a character who appears in Stevenson's original tale), Hayward's Edward Jekyll is introduced in blissful ignorance of his convoluted bloodline. Inheriting the family mansion on the eve of his wedding, Edward finds himself unpopular with the neighbors, prompting full disclosure of the unpleasantness of the past. In a fit of familial pique, young Edward declares that "legends don't die, they have to be killed" and sets about recreating his father's experiment in a bid to clear his name. Playing fast and loose with the J&H mythos, the script makes pointed allusions to the then-raging "Red Scare" in America and the frenzy to name and punish Communists and their sympathizers. It should come as no surprise that Huebsch himself had been blacklisted for ducking a HUAC subpoena. "Burning witches has always been a popular sport," Hayward's avenging son comments in the film, which reveals itself to be – spoiler warning – a standard horror tale wrapped around the film noir conceit of an innocent man framed for a crime he didn't commit. While Edward Jekyll survives the mob's wrath and commitment to a lunatic asylum to see his name (if not his father's) cleared, Edward Huebsch remained a blacklisted and uncredited writer until the release of Robert Aldrich's Twilight's Last Gleaming (to which he contributed) in 1977. Director: Seymour Friedman Screenplay: Mortimer Braus, Jack Pollexfen Cinematography: Henry Freulich Art Direction: Walter Holscher Music: Paul Sawtell Film Editing: Gene Havlick Cast: Louis Hayward (Edward Jekyll/Dr. Henry Hyde), Jody Lawrance (Lynn Utterson), Alexander Knox (Dr. Curtis Lanyon), Lester Matthews (Sir John Utterson), Gavin Muir (Richard Daniels), Paul Cavanagh (Inspector Stoddard), Rhys Williams (Michaels). BW-78m. by Richard Harland Smith Sources: Jack Pollexfen interview, Interviews with B Science Fiction and Horror Movie Directors by Tom Weaver, Michael Brunas and John Brunas American Gothic: Sixty Years of Horror Cinema by Jonathan Rigby The Inquisition in Hollywood: Politics in the Film Community 1930-1960 by Larry Ceplair and Steven

Quotes

Trivia

Notes

According to copyright records and reviews, the film includes a prologue which begins after "Dr. Jekyll" has murdered his wife in the guise of "Mr. Hyde." The sequence shows Jekyll being killed by a mob. "Utterson" and "Lanyon" then take responsibility to rear the orphaned infant "Edward." The prologue was not in the print viewed, which begins with Edward as an adult.
       According to a Hollywood Reporter news item, United Artists producer Charles R. Rogers brought The Son of Dr. Jekyll to Columbia, but the picture was released without a producer credit and Rogers' contribution to the final film has not been determined. Hollywood Reporter also reported that early in October 1951, Columbia removed writer Edward Huebsch's name from the credits for a press screening. Huebsch had reportedly fled to Mexico at that time to avoid being served a subpoena by the House Committee on Un-American Activities (HUAC). Columbia contacted the Screen Writers Guild to act on a waiver on Huebsch's screenplay credit, but the Guild refused under the rules of the organization. The print screened contained Huebsch's credit, and it has not been determined whether Columbia ever distributed prints without the writing credit. According to modern sources, once HUAC declared that avoiding subpoenas was not illegal, Huebsch returned to the U.S., but was blacklisted.
       Although the writing credits make no acknowledgment of a literary source, the character of Dr. Henry Jekyll was taken from Robert Louis Stevenson's 1886 novella, The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. The novella has been used as the basis of several films, including Paramount's 1932 picture Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, directed by Rouben Mamoulian and starring Fredric March (see AFI Catalog of Feature Films, 1931-40); and the 1941 M-G-M film of the same title, directed by Victor Fleming and starring Spencer Tracy (see AFI Catalog of Feature Films, 1941-50).