Wednesday, October 05, 2005

Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde

"Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde," by Robert Louis Stevenson, is not only a literary classic but a perennial favorite of Hollywood. It's been remade countless times but how many do we really remember?
The only ones that Miss Maven can clearly remember are the 1931 version with Frederic March and the 1941 Spencer Tracy version.
There is "Abbott and Costello Meet Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde" but that movie can be put with Abbott and Costello's companion films, ". . . Meet Frankenstein," ". . . Meet the Killer," etc.
Miss Maven finally had a chance to see John Barrymore's silent version from 1920.
It is the best one that Miss Maven has seen yet and considers it the definitive version that's not only a mustsee but a gottahave for your collection.
Don't misunderstand~~Frederick March and Spencer Tracy are top-notch actors and their movies are also mustsees but . . .
John Barrymore was at the height of his powers as an actor and gives an incredible naturalness to both the saintly Doctor and nasty Hyde.
(Blooper: Watch for the fake finger flying off as Jekyll finishes turning into Hyde!)
Frederick March was a rather mannered actor for Miss Maven who thought he was better suited for his title role in "Death Takes a Holiday." (This 1934 film is also great for Halloween but not for everyone's taste and certainly not for most children.)
March got the first of his two Oscars for this role, Miss Maven suspects, because his Mr. Hyde is just as good as Barrymore's. Plus March benefits from Miriam Hopkins and Rose Hobart as the ladies he lusts after, parts that weren't in Stevenson's original novella.
Spencer Tracy made an excellent Dr. Jekyll but was very weak as Mr. Hyde. Maybe Miss Maven just couldn't get over that Tracy's Hyde make-up didn't make him look that scary or different from the good Doctor.
This version did have the intriguing casting of Lana Turner as Dr. Jekyll's fiancee, Beatrix Emery, and Ingrid Bergman as the dance-hall habitue, Ivy Peterson.
Miss Bergman's role was rather ironic later on when she had her affair with Roberto Rossellini.
. . .
Miss Maven hopes this helps you as you make your list of mustsees for Halloween!
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It's well worth your time and trouble!
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Miss Maven can be reached at
theoldmoviemaven@yahoo.com.

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