Overall | Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde (1932) | Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde (1941)

Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde (1932 and 1941 Versions) (1932)

Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde (1932 and 1941 Versions) (1932)

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Released 6-Oct-2004

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Overall Package

    These two versions of the classic Robert Louis Stevenson story are linked by more than just their literary basis. MGM purchased the rights to the story and script of the earlier film from Paramount, probably to save the cost of developing a script of their own. More disturbingly, they also purchased the negative and all available prints of the 1932 version, so that they could suppress it, avoiding unfavourable comparison with their own product. The 1932 version did not again see the light of day until the mid-1960s.

    There are considerable similarities between the two as a result. Scenes, incidents and whole chunks of dialogue are repeated in the Spencer Tracy version. However, this did not result in a better film. The sexual subtext to the first film is missing from the second, making Jekyll's motivations muddier. The 1941 film is longer and slower-paced, and there are almost none of the directorial flourishes that distinguished the first film. Spencer Tracy is less compelling than Fredric March in the title roles, while Miriam Hopkins does a much better job as the unfortunate Ivy than Ingrid Bergman.

    The other difference is that Jekyll is pronounced differently in the two films. In 1932, it rhymed with treacle, in 1941 with heckle. Apparently the earlier pronunciation is the correct one as confirmed by Stevenson himself, but most people will be comfortable with Jekyll as in heckle.

    The two films come on a dual-sided disc, though all of the extras are on the same side as the 1932 version. The commentary is excellent and well worth listening to, the cartoon is relevant and superbly restored, though not from the same era as either film, and there is a trailer for the 1941 version only. The disc is worth owning for the 1932 film alone, which is one of the classics of the horror genre.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Philip Sawyer (Bio available.)
Tuesday, November 02, 2004
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Overall | Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde (1932) | Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde (1941)

Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde (1932)

Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde (1932)

If you create a user account, you can add your own review of this DVD

Released 6-Oct-2004

Cover Art

This review is sponsored by
BUY IT

Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Horror Main Menu Audio
Audio Commentary-Greg Mank
Featurette-Cartoon - Bugs Bunny in 'Hyde And Hare'
Trailer-1941 Version
Rating Rated PG
Year Of Production 1932
Running Time 92:02
RSDL / Flipper Dual Sided Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 2,4,5 Directed By Rouben Mamoulian
Studio
Distributor

Warner Home Video
Starring Fredric March
Miriam Hopkins
Rose Hobart
Holmes Herbert
Halliwell Hobbes
Edgar Norton
Tempe Pigott
Case ?
RPI $19.95 Music None Given


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English Dolby Digital 1.0 (192Kb/s)
English Audio Commentary Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio None
16x9 Enhancement No
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio 1.37:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles English
French
Spanish
Portuguese
Danish
Icelandic
Swedish
Croatian
Slovenian
Czech
Greek
Hungarian
Dutch
Romanian
Arabic
English for the Hearing Impaired
Smoking Yes
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

NOTE: The Profanity Filter is ON. Turn it off here.

Plot Synopsis

    Dr Henry Jekyll (Fredric March) seeks a way to free man of his basest instincts. He sees man as being dual in nature, with a good side and a bad side. His aim is to find a method of splitting man's nature so that the evil side can be removed. By mixing a few potions together, he succeeds. Unfortunately, while this potion is in effect it actually frees the base side to take over completely and he turns into Hyde, a Neanderthal who seeks only to satisfy his considerable lusts.

    Which he proceeds to do with Ivy (Miriam Hopkins), ostensibly a singer in a public bar but obviously a prostitute. Meanwhile Jekyll is engaged to Muriel Carew (Rose Hobart) but her father (Halliwell Hobbes) won't let them marry immediately, insisting that they observe the proprieties and wait until the anniversary of his own marriage. Tragedy ensues.

    Robert Louis Stevenson's short novel The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde was first published in 1886. There are notable differences between the novel and film, for example the absence of Muriel and Ivy from the book. Rather than seek the complete subjugation of the lower half of man's nature, the original Jekyll sought to remove the conflict between the two, by separating them so that each can operate alone at different times. This would eliminate the strictures of conscience from the lustful part, while freeing the higher aspect to operate untroubled by base desire.

    The film somewhat changes this view. Jekyll seeks to better mankind by conquering his evil nature, but at the same time he seeks a resolution to his sexual frustration at being unable to marry Muriel for another eight months. In the Victorian era sex before marriage simply was not done. Jekyll finds his lusts aroused by the sensual and available Ivy, but does nothing about it until he changes his persona to that of the monstrous Hyde. But without a higher nature to seek out the pleasures that Ivy could provide apart from those of the flesh, boredom and familiarity are transformed into wanton cruelty and viciousness. Hyde revels in Ivy's fear, which is well conveyed by Miriam Hopkins.

    March won his first Oscar for this performance. Initially I found myself thinking that he won for his superb portrayal of the lustful and uncontrolled Hyde and not for his theatrical Jekyll. On reflection, it is the differences between these two portrayals that is most impressive, with the theatricality of his Jekyll emphasising the extent to which it is really a mask created for the sake of society. The make-up used for Hyde is based on Neanderthal Man, and progressively changes during the film until at the end he is simply a monster. The transitions between Jekyll and Hyde are done with the best tricks that 1932 cinema could provide. A couple of times it is done with a series of lap dissolves, but the most impressive sequences were done by cinematographer Karl Struss with a combination of make-up and the use of coloured filters on the camera. The application of the filters reveals the various layers of makeup, making Jekyll's face look as if it was changing before one's eyes. The Hyde make-up caused March considerable discomfort, and he spent three weeks in hospital after the shoot recovering from the potentially disfiguring chemicals used.

    The supporting cast includes some veteran British character actors, such as the alliterative Halliwell Hobbes and Holmes Herbert, the latter ably playing Jekyll's colleague and friend Lanyon. Also of note is Edgar Norton as Poole, like Hobbes a perennial butler in scores of films. Rose Hobart is a little less impressive as Muriel, though it would have been a difficult role to do anything substantial with, and she acquits herself well. Miriam Hopkins gives a standout performance as Ivy, a perfect counterbalance to March.

    The film was the third directed by Rouben Mamoulian, who like many stage directors crossed over to films at the start of the sound era, when dialogue directors were in demand. The film has lots of impressive little touches such the use of statuary to punctuate scenes, and the fluid camerawork is superb. The film moves with life and vigour and is immensely enjoyable. Possibly the best version of this story ever filmed, it is still impressive more than seventy years later. It alone is worth the price of the disc, but it also comes coupled with the 1941 remake. That film will be reviewed separately.

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Transfer Quality

Video

    The film is presented in an aspect ratio of 1.33:1, close to the original 1.37:1, and is not 16x9 enhanced.

    This edition is described as "restored", but in fact that simply means that deleted footage has been restored, not that the material itself has been fully restored, judging by the appearance of the transfer.

    For the most part the transfer is very sharp and clear. There are some short sequences that appear to be slightly fuzzier than the rest, probably due to the inclusion of bits and pieces from various sources in this edition. I would have to say that the transfer is very good for a film of this age, with a nice level of detail.

    Contrast is excellent in most sequences, with some of the print looking quite luminous. Shadow detail is also very good. The black and white material used exhibits a nice range of solid blacks and whites.

    There are no film to video artefacts that I could detect. There is however a considerable shake to the film, both vertical and horizontal. This is especially obvious during the early parts of the film. I suspect that this is due to the nature of the source material, and is not simply telecine wobble as such.

    Film artefacts abound. There are lots of flecks, small scratches and debris, with what appears to be minor water damage at times. There are frames missing at various points, contributing to a jerky appearance. There is a splice mark at 55:51, and several instances where the frame jumps considerably, such as at 11:58.

    Subtitles are provided in numerous languages, with English subtitles in both standard and Hard of Hearing formats. From the sample I made of the former, they tend to match the dialogue and are eminently readable in a good-sized white font. However, there was one instance where I was certain that Jekyll said "I'll see you anon" but which was subtitled as "I'll see you at 9:00". The audio commentary confirms my understanding of the dialogue, so this was a little sloppy on the part of the subtitlers.

    The film is presented on a single-layered disc, so there is no layer change to contend with.

Video Ratings Summary
Sharpness
Shadow Detail
Colour
Grain/Pixelization
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts
Overall

Audio

    The default audio track is English Dolby Digital 1.0.

    Obviously this is a mono track reflecting the original recording. Making allowances for the age of the material, it is a very good transfer. There is some audible hiss and the occasional minor crackle, but even in 1932 this would not have been unusual, given the relatively primitive state of audio recording (though it had improved dramatically in only five years). Dialogue comes across well, but Fredric March's voice sounds a little high-pitched. Possibly this is due to PAL speed-up, though I must admit I have never noticed this effect before. It may simply be that the original recording was lacking in bass frequencies.

    There is no credit for the score, not unusual since none of the music is original. The opening titles feature an orchestral version of Bach's famous Toccata and Fugue, which is also played on the organ. The music comes across well given the nature of the audio.

Audio Ratings Summary
Dialogue
Audio Sync
Clicks/Pops/Dropouts
Surround Channel Use
Subwoofer
Overall

Extras

    Some nice extras, though a trailer for the 1932 version (if one exists) would have been good.

Audio Commentary - Greg Mank

    This must be one of the best commentaries I have heard in a while. Mank obviously knows his subject very well and talks with enthusiasm and in considerable detail about the film, including its production and the critical and commercial reaction. He also discusses the careers of each of the actors and the director, while also going into specifics about the John Barrymore 1920 version and the 1941 remake. Particularly valuable is his pointing out of sections that have been censored and restored, and parts that are still incomplete. There are only a couple of dead spots, where Mank wants us to hear what is happening on screen.

    As Mank points out, the pronunciation of Jekyll in the film so as to rhyme with treacle (rather than the usual heckle) is in fact the way Stevenson intended it.

Short - Hyde and Hair (6:48)

    A 1955 Looney Tunes cartoon featuring Bugs Bunny and his encounter with a certain Dr Jekyll. This cartoon is in beautiful condition, as good as the day it was first screened (not that I was there).

Theatrical Trailer - 1941 version (3:34)

    This is a trailer for the Spencer Tracy remake included on the reverse side of the disc. It is in good condition, though not as good as the film itself.

Censorship

    There is censorship information available for this title. Click here to read it (a new window will open). WARNING: Often these entries contain MAJOR plot spoilers.

R4 vs R1

NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.

    This release appears to be identical to the Region 1 and Region 2 releases, so there is no reason not to buy this at your local DVD retailer.

Summary

    An excellent traversal of this oft-filmed story, this must be just about the best version there is.

    The video quality is very good, though not fully restored.

    The audio quality is acceptable.

    The extras include an excellent commentary plus an amusing cartoon on the same subject.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Philip Sawyer (Bio available.)
Tuesday, November 02, 2004
Review Equipment
DVDPioneer DV-S733A, using Component output
DisplaySony 86CM Trinitron Wega KVHR36M31. Calibrated with Ultimate DVD Platinum. This display device is 16x9 capable.
Audio DecoderBuilt in to DVD player, Dolby Digital, dts and DVD-Audio. Calibrated with Ultimate DVD Platinum.
AmplificationSony TA-DA9000ES
SpeakersMain: Tannoy Revolution R3; Centre: Tannoy Sensys DCC; Rear: Richter Harlequin; Subwoofer: JBL SUB175

Other Reviews NONE
Comments (Add) NONE
Overall | Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde (1932) | Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde (1941)

Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde (1941)

Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde (1941)

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Released 6-Oct-2004

Cover Art

This review is sponsored by
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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Horror Main Menu Audio
Rating Rated PG
Year Of Production 1941
Running Time 108:12
RSDL / Flipper Dual Sided Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 2,4,5 Directed By Victor Fleming
Studio
Distributor

Warner Home Video
Starring Spencer Tracy
Ingrid Bergman
Lana Turner
Ian Hunter
C. Aubrey Smith
Donald Crisp
Barton MacLane
Sara Allgood
Case ?
RPI $19.95 Music Franz Waxman


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English Dolby Digital 1.0 (192Kb/s)
French Dolby Digital 1.0 (192Kb/s)
Spanish Dolby Digital 1.0 (192Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio None
16x9 Enhancement No
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio 1.37:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles English
French
Spanish
Portuguese
Danish
Icelandic
Swedish
Croatian
Slovenian
Czech
Greek
Hungarian
Dutch
Romanian
Arabic
English for the Hearing Impaired
Smoking Yes
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

NOTE: The Profanity Filter is ON. Turn it off here.

Plot Synopsis

    It seems hardly necessary to repeat the plot synopsis from the 1932 film, but in a nutshell, Dr Henry Jekyll (Spencer Tracy) wants to find a way to cure madness. By mixing some potions, he discovers that he can liberate the evil side of his character, who promptly begins to terrorise a poor young singer, Ivy (Ingrid Bergman). But Jekyll begins to lose control over himself and cannot suppress his evil counterpart...

    In remaking the 1932 Paramount film, MGM purchased the screenplay and all available prints of the earlier film, including the negative, and suppressed it for a quarter of a century. Their remake owes a lot to the original, with whole sections of dialogue taken (uncredited) from the original script. The differences between the two versions arise out of the Production Code. This 1941 remake was made when the Code was enforced, meaning that all of the sexual motivations of the lead character had to be excised. Jekyll is no longer desperate for marriage so that he can satisfy his animal lusts, though who wouldn't lust after Lana Turner? The film is watered-down and emptily glossy in the MGM house style.

    Spencer Tracy plays a quite different Hyde to that of Fredric March. As revealed in the audio commentary to the earlier film, Tracy originally wanted to play Hyde as an identity assumed by Jekyll when he went off on a drug and alcohol binge. Under the Code the depiction of drug addiction was forbidden, so that idea did not last long. Rather than wearing wads of uncomfortable make-up, Tracy's makeup is restrained, with fake eyebrows, heavily lined features and false teeth making the lower half of his face seem wider. Tracy plays Hyde as a wide-eyed sadist, not the primitive, bestial "lover" of the earlier film. The portrayal seems to be a mistake as Hyde is therefore not as much a polar opposite of Jekyll as he was in the original, just as he is not as unrecognisable as Hyde as March was. This makes Somerset Maugham's caustic comment when visiting the set: "Which one is he playing now?" quite apt, though the fault does not necessarily lie with the actor.

    I was intrigued in reading other reviews of the film to find that some reviewers loved Ingrid Bergman as Ivy, and others thought she was severely miscast. As someone who has never responded to Miss Bergman's charms I find myself in the latter category. Aside from the unavoidable problems with her accent, a Cockney by way of Stockholm, she is just not convincing in the role. Bergman's shyness comes across too easily, whereas Ivy should be anything but shy, and as a result her coquetry seems forced. Lana Turner is always nice to watch, even if her acting talents were unformed this early in her career. There is one remarkable sequence during Jekyll's transformation where in his imagination Beatrix and Ivy substitute for a team of horses, the one moment where the film really came to life for me.

    Even reliable support actors like Ian Hunter, C. Aubrey Smith and Donald Crisp seem wasted in this film, as none are anything other than cardboard replicas of real people. The direction by Victor Fleming is unusually pedestrian, and while the film looks sumptuous, it is little more than a soufflé compared to the superb 1932 version, included on the other side of the disc and reviewed separately.

Don't wish to see plot synopses in the future? Change your configuration.

Transfer Quality

Video

    The film is presented in an aspect ratio of 1.33:1, close to the original 1.37:1, and is not 16x9 enhanced.

    The transfer is very sharp and clear. Detail is good throughout, though I thought that it was lacking a little in contrast, particularly in comparison to the Paramount film. This may simply be a result of the glossy MGM look. Shadow detail is satisfactory. The black and white material used exhibits a range of solid blacks and particularly whites.

    There are no film to video artefacts that I could detect, apart from aliasing, which is very mild, for instance at 1:20.

   Film artefacts are visible but rarely disturbing. There are lots of flecks and small scratches which might have been removed by wet-gating the print. Otherwise the film was in very good condition

    Subtitles are provided in numerous languages, with English subtitles in both standard and Hard of Hearing formats. From the sample I made of the former, they tend to match the dialogue and are eminently readable in a good-sized white font.

    The film is presented on a single-layer disc, so there is no layer change to contend with.

Video Ratings Summary
Sharpness
Shadow Detail
Colour
Grain/Pixelization
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts
Overall

Audio

    The default audio track is English Dolby Digital 1.0.

    Obviously this is a mono track reflecting the original recording. For an early 1940s film it is a very good transfer. There is some audible hiss, but not to distracting levels. The audio sounds a little thin at times, and like the audio transfer for the earlier film, I found that the lead actor's voice sounded a little high-pitched.

    The film does benefit from a fine orchestral score by Franz Waxman, which has some stirring themes. I thought the choral segment during the opening credits was a slight lapse in taste, but Waxman even finds time to include a short pastiche piano concerto during the film.

Audio Ratings Summary
Dialogue
Audio Sync
Clicks/Pops/Dropouts
Surround Channel Use
Subwoofer
Overall

Extras

Main Menu Audio

    Music from Waxman's score is played while the static menu is displayed.

R4 vs R1

NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.

    This release appears to be identical to the Region 1 and Region 2 releases, so there is no reason not to buy this at your local DVD retailer.

Summary

    A reasonable version of the familiar story, this film pales beside the 1932 version.

    The video quality is very good.

    The audio quality is satisfactory.

    No substantial extras are provided on this side of the disc.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Philip Sawyer (Bio available.)
Tuesday, November 02, 2004
Review Equipment
DVDPioneer DV-S733A, using Component output
DisplaySony 86CM Trinitron Wega KVHR36M31. Calibrated with Ultimate DVD Platinum. This display device is 16x9 capable.
Audio DecoderBuilt in to DVD player, Dolby Digital, dts and DVD-Audio. Calibrated with Ultimate DVD Platinum.
AmplificationSony TA-DA9000ES
SpeakersMain: Tannoy Revolution R3; Centre: Tannoy Sensys DCC; Rear: Richter Harlequin; Subwoofer: JBL SUB175

Other Reviews NONE
Comments (Add) NONE