Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde (1931 film)

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Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde is a 1931 American Pre-Code horror film directed by Rouben Mamoulian and starring Fredric March. The film is an adaptation of The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde (1886), the Robert Louis Stevenson tale of a man who takes a potion which turns him from a mild-mannered man of science into a crude homicidal maniac.

Contents

Plot

The film tells of Dr. Jekyll (Fredric March), a kind doctor who experiments with drugs because he's certain that within each man lurks impulses for both good and evil.

Dr. Jekyll develops a drug to release the evil side in himself, becoming the violent, hard drinking, woman-chasing Mr. Hyde. Jekyll quickly becomes addicted to the formula, and unable to control his alter-ego Mr. Hyde. The film ends when Lanyon, Jekyll's friend, and the police try to capture Jekyll, who slowly begins to transform into Hyde. Realizing that the jig is up, Hyde tries to escape from the lab by climbing to a window, but Lanyon shoots him, causing him to fall onto Jekyll's laboratory table. Hyde begins to transform into Jekyll, while Jekyll's butler, Poole, begins to cry for his late master.

Cast (in credits order)

Background

The film, made prior to the full enforcement of the Production Code, is remembered today for its strong sexual content, embodied mostly in the character of the prostitute, Ivy Pearson, played by Miriam Hopkins. When the film was re-released in 1936, the Code required 8 minutes to be removed before the film could be distributed to theaters. This footage was restored for the VHS and DVD releases.[1]

The secret of the astonishing transformation scenes was not revealed for decades (Mamoulian himself revealed it in a volume of interviews with Hollywood directors published under the title The Celluloid Muse). A series of colored filters matching the make-up was used, enabling the make-up applied in contrasting colours, to be gradually exposed or made invisible. The change in color was not visible on the black-and-white film.

Perc Westmore's make-up for Hyde, simian and hairy with large canine teeth influenced greatly the popular image of Hyde in media and comic books; in part this reflected the novella's implication of Hyde as embodying repressed evil and hence being semi-evolved or simian in appearance. The characters of Muriel Carew and Ivy Pearson do not appear in Stevenson's original story but do appear in the 1887 stage version by playwright Thomas Russell Sullivan.

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