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Dr. Jekyll And Mr. Hyde (1941) Blu-ray Review

“Dr. Jekyll And Mr. Hyde” isn’t the best adaptation.

The classic horror tale (which is based on Robert Louis Stevenson’s novel) revolves around Dr. Henry Jekyll whose life becomes consumed by his scientific experiments. Even though he’s set to marry Beatrix, Jekyll is unhappy by his current work and wants to create a serum to cure insane people. He ends up trying a concoction on himself but it backfires and splits his personality into 2 personas- Dr. Henry Jekyll and the evil Mr. Hyde. As Hyde begins to take over more and more, his life spirals out of control, his relationship with Batrix sours, and he begins to prey upon a bar maid (Ivy).

1931’s ‘Dr. Jekyll And Mr. Hyde’ is frequently cited as the best version. The 1941 version? Not so much. On paper this should be quite the production given the level of talent involved. Victor Fleming directs, Franz Waxman does the score, the sets and costumes are first rate, and the film boasts A-listers Spencer Tracy, Ingrid Bergman and Lana Turner. So, what went wrong? The script by John Lee Mahin is uneven. The portrayal of Mr. Hyde is lackluster at best. He’s too tame and nowhere near as menacing as he could have been (although the bizarre transformation sequences are notable). Visually the character looks laughable as it’s more or less some slapped on make-up, bushy eyebrows, wilder hair mixed ith Spencer Tracy gritting his teeth.  Ivy also has far too much screentime leaving little room for Beatrix (and her relationship with Dr. Henry Jekyll). On top of that, the big ideas of Stevenson’s novel get a bit lost. Sure, the concepts of good and evil, duality, and human nature present but they’re only surface level.

Going back to the cast, it’s sad to say that there’s some serious miscasting here. Spencer Tracy is perfect as Dr. Jekyll, but he comes off as hokey and not so menacing as Mr. Hyde (the goofy presentation doesn’t help). Ingrid Bergman and her accent don’t exactly work for Ivy and probably would have been better suited as Beatrix. Still there are some intense dramatic moments with her and Tracy that do work. Lana Turner is solid as Beatrix but she doesn’t have enough to do here. 

Video/Audio:

Presentation: 1.37:1 1080p. How does it look? The B&W film gets a crisp hi-def transfer. 

Audio Track: 2.0 DTS-HD MA. How does it sound? A little snowy in parts but a quality 2.0 track nonetheless.

The lone extra is a theatrical trailer.

‘Dr. Jekyll And Mr. Hyde’ is available on the Amazon Warner Archive store and other online retailers.

August 8, 2022 - Posted by | Blu-Ray review | , , , , ,

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