Pre-code movies are always interesting to watch, though most of them I can’t imagine what they would’ve been rated back then. By today’s standards, they are totally G-Rated. Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde (1931) isn’t one of those stories that are a secret to most people, well maybe to millennials. There’ve been several adaptations over the years of Robert Louis Stevenson’s 1886 novella, The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, and this will always be my favorite.
I’ve walked a strange and terrible road. Dr. Henry Jekyll
After many years of not seeing Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, I’d forgotten that the pronunciation of his last name is ‘Gee-kill,’ not ‘Jek-ill’ as most say it, including myself. Fredric March won an Academy Award for his role as Dr. Henry Jekyll, no matter how you say it. And it’s well deserved. It’s hard to believe that it’s the same man behind the make-up and fake teeth. The transformation from Jekyll to Hyde uses freeze frame, which is similar to stop-motion animation but slightly different.
Other effects they use are vignette to show Dr. Jekyll’s point of view. I wish they would’ve been consistent with it because it’s a cool idea. They also used a wiper to change screens and split-screen when things were happening simultaneously. Another cool one was superimposing different scenes overtop of the one in focus.
Rose Hobart, playing Muriel, is an absolute beauty that many don’t remember from this era in film making. I’m in heaven seeing her give great face. Her eyes are intense and dramatic, and the crispness of the black and white makes her sultry stares magical.
The other delight for the eyes is Miriam Hopkins. She’s amazing to watch as the damsel in distress, her theatrics are barely matched by Fredric March as he parades around as Hyde, yet he won an Academy Award, and she didn’t.
If you’ve never had the pleasure of seeing this theatrical gem, don’t waste any more time, Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde will make your life better. I give it 5 out of 5 Stars.