Horror Movie Week! Let’s watch Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde (1931)

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If you have lots of patience, you can watch the silent movie version of Robert Louis Stevenson’s famous story (in the public domain), but the visual quality of the film is poor.

I wouldn’t bother watching the 1941 version with Spencer Tracey and Ingrid Bergman. Ms. Bergman was horribly miscast and Tracey did not do the role justice.

But the 1931 version directed by Rouben Mamoulian and featuring Frederic March and Miriam Hopkins…THIS is the one to watch. It was a box-office hit that received critical praise from The New York Times, among others, on its release.

It’s a Halloween must-see! And you can rent it on YouTube!

The movie is an interesting commentary on the duality of human nature and our struggle between our morals and our impulses. There’s some discourse on that.

The transformation scenes are horrific, even by modern standards.

Frederic March is very good in his two roles as Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde…he won an Oscar for his performance.

There are notable performances by the supporting actors who play the doctor’s best friend, his butler and his fiancée.

But Miriam Hopkins is outstanding in the role of Ivy, her breakthrough role. If you get a chance to see her other movies, do.

The scene where she attempts to seduce Dr. Jekyll is famous. This was pre-Code stuff. It’s rather overtly sexual and was later censored, then restored for the DVD versions. Thank goodness, because it’s amazing!

Mamoulian, an experienced stage director, went on to direct “The Mark of Zorro” and “Blood and Sand” and several other Hollywood films. He has a star on the Walk of Fame.

We should consider ourselves lucky to have this film to watch today. MGM did a terrible thing when they released the 1941 version (which, as I said, was just awful). They bought the rights to the 1920 silent version and the 1931 Mamoulian pic. Then they destroyed every reel they could find, ostensibly to remove comparison to their film. Fortunately, some reels survived.

You can rent this on YouTube and I highly recommend it!

About Mary Fletcher Jones

Mary Fletcher Jones is a mom, teacher, and blogger. Her blogs include Autumn in Virginia, Cool Yule Blog and You Can't Make This Stuff Up, among others. She is also the creator of "Living Well With Autism," an online resource for caregivers of children, teens, and adults with autism and related special needs.
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