DR. JEKYLL AND MR. HYDE [1941 / 2022] [Warner Archive Collection] [Blu-ray] [USA Release]
The Screens Most Suspenseful Drama Returns To Thrill A New!

Laurence Olivier once observed that he “learned more about acting from watching Spencer Tracy than in any other way.” Undertaking the dual title role in Robert Louis Stevenson’s Victorian science-fiction thriller, sees Spencer Tracy fulfilled that compliment by abandoning his characteristic down-to-earth image for the most terrifying portrayal of his career. Also cast “against type” are “Sweater Sweetheart” Lana Turner as Dr. Harry Jekyll’s fiancée and Ingrid Bergman, who plays Mr. Hyde’s victimized Cockney mistress. Spencer Tracy and director Victor Fleming [‘Gone with the Wind’] decided to break with convention by interpreting Mr. Hyde from a Freudian perspective instead of portraying him as the usual physically grotesque monster, and Mr. Hyde emerges as a  menacing distortion of the sexually frustrated Dr. Jekyll. To Spencer Tracy fans, this amazing piece of virtuosity will come as an unforgettable revelation.

FILM FACT No.1: Awards and Nominations: 1942 Academy Awards®: Nominated: Best Cinematography in Black-and-White for Joseph Ruttenberg. Nominated: Best Film Editing for Harold F. Kress. Nominated: Best Music and Scoring of a Dramatic Picture for Franz Waxman.

FILM FACT No.2: Rather than being a new film version of Robert Louis Stevenson's novella, this ‘DR. JEKYLL AND MR. HYDE’ is a direct remake of the 1931 film of the same title. Both Hollywood productions differ greatly from the original literary work due to their heavy reliance on Thomas Russell Sullivan's 1887 stage adaptation of the story. The director for the 1941 film was Victor Fleming, who had directed Gone with the Wind and codirected ‘The Wizard of Oz,’ two major releases by Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer in 1939. Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, where Fleming was under contract, acquired full rights to the 1931 film from Paramount Pictures prior to Fleming's production. According to the Robert Louis Stevenson website being archived and preserved by the British Library, subsequent to that acquisition Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer studio executives “hid the [1931] film away to avoid competition with their remake.” The 1931 version then, due to ongoing legal restrictions and the lack of readily available copies, was effectively “lost” for over a quarter of a century, not generally available again for rescreening’s and study until 1967. The PCA was very specific in Characterizing as Ivy Pearson [Ingrid Bergman] in saying, “Great care will be needed with the characterization of the girl Ivy, to avoid characterizing her as a prostitute.” The filmmakers reacted with compliance over this dispute. Despite having not yet met his later co-star Katharine Hepburn that they met working on ‘Woman of the Year’ in 1942, and Spencer Tracy originally wanted her to play both Ingrid Bergman's and Lana Turner's roles as the “bad” and “good” woman, who would then turn out to be the same person. Initial casting had Ingrid Bergman playing the virtuous fiancée of Dr. Jekyll and Lana Turner as the “bad girl” Ivy Pearson. However, Ingrid Bergman, tired of playing saintly characters and fearing typecasting, pleaded with Victor Fleming that Ingrid Bergman and Lana Turner switch roles. After a screen test, Victor Fleming allowed Ingrid Bergman to play a grittier role for the first time. After its preview of DR. JEKYLL AND MR. HYDE in late July 1941, the trade paper Variety cited some weaknesses in the development of characters and situations in the film's plot; but, overall, the popular New York publication gave the production a very positive assessment. Variety predicted the film would be “one of the big ones for fall release” and focused special attention on Ingrid Bergman's performance and screen presence. It compared to Mr. Hyde's physical appearance with his portrayals in the 1925 and 1931 interpretations of Robert Louis Stevenson's novella “Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde.”

Cast: Spencer Tracy, Ingrid Bergman, Lana Turner, Donald Crisp, Ian Hunter, Barton MacLane, C. Aubrey Smith, Peter Godfrey, Sara Allgood, Frederick Worlock, William Tannen, Frances Robinson, Denis Green, Billy Bevan, Forrester Harvey, Lumsden Hare, Lawrence Grant, John Barclay, Rudolph Andrean (uncredited), Jimmy Aubrey (uncredited), Vangie Beilby (uncredited), Lydia Bilbrook (uncredited), Ted Billings (uncredited), Hillary Brooke (uncredited), Rita Carlyle (uncredited), Herbert Clifton (uncredited), Alec Craig (uncredited), David Dunbar (uncredited), Al Ferguson (uncredited), Mary Field (uncredited), Mel S. Forrester (uncredited), Gwen Gaze (uncredited), Douglas Gordon (uncredited), Eldon Gorst (uncredited), Frank Hagney (uncredited), Bobbie Hale (uncredited), Stuart Hall (uncredited), Winifred Harris (uncredited), Harold Howard (uncredited), Brandon Hurst (uncredited), Olaf Hytten (uncredited), P.J. Kelly (uncredited), Colin Kenny (uncredited), Claude King (uncredited), Susanne Leach (uncredited), Doris Lloyd (uncredited), Gwendolyn Logan (uncredited), Eric Lonsdale (uncredited), Frances MacInerney (uncredited), Aubrey Mather (uncredited), Cyril McLaglen (uncredited), Alice Mock (uncredited), Pat Moriarity (uncredited), Edmund Mortimer (uncredited), Lionel Pape (uncredited), Milton Parsons (uncredited), Gil Perkins (uncredited), John Power (uncredited), Clara Reid (uncredited), Patsy Shaw (uncredited), Yorke Sherwood (uncredited), Jimmy Spencer (uncredited), Jack Stewart (uncredited), Jacques Vanaire (uncredited), Sailor Vincent (uncredited), Venita Vincent (uncredited), Pax Walker (uncredited), Martha Wentworth (uncredited), Larry Wheat (uncredited) and C.M. 'Slats' Wyrick (uncredited)

Director: Victor Fleming

Producers: Victor Fleming and Victor Saville (uncredited)

Screenplay: John Lee Mahin (screenplay), Robert Louis Stevenson (based on the novella), Paul Osborn (uncredited), Percy Heath (1931 screenplay) (uncredited) and Samuel Hoffenstein (1931 screenplay) (uncredited)

Music Department: Franz Waxman (conductor), Daniele Amfitheatrof (composer: additional music) (uncredited), Mario Castelnuovo-Tedesco (composer: additional music) (uncredited), Joseph Nussbaum (orchestrator) (uncredited), Leonid Raab (orchestrator) (uncredited) and Joseph Nussbaum (orchestrator) (uncredited)

Costume Design and Wardrobe: Adrian (woman’s gowns), Gile Steele (wardrobe: men) and Eugene Josef (costume jewellery) (uncredited)

Make-up Creator: Jack Dawn (American make-up artist)

Special Effects: Warren Newcombe (American special effects artist)

Montage Effects: Peter Ballbusch

Cinematography: Joseph Ruttenberg, A.S.C. (Director of Photography)

Image Resolution: 1080p (Black-and-White)

Aspect Ratio: 1.37:1

Audio: English: 2.0 DTS-HD Master Audio

Subtitles: English

Running Time: 112 minutes

Region: All Regions

Number of discs: 1

Studio: Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer / Warner Archive Collection

Andrew’s Blu-ray Review: ‘DR. JEKYLL AND MR. HYDE’ [1941] Set in Victorian England in 1887, a wealthy doctor by the name of Dr. Harry Jekyll [Spencer Tracy] has begun experimenting on animals to determine if it is possible to separate good qualities from those determined to be bad. When he discusses his research at a dinner party his ideas are met with a great deal of consternation, especially on the part of his fiancé's father, Sir Charles Emery [Donald Crisp]. In fact, Sir Charles Emery is so concerned that he decides to take his daughter, Beatrix Emery [Lana Turner] with him out of the country in order to separate the two and give him some time to think about whether the wedding should go forward or not. In the meantime, Dr. Harry Jekyll has grown frustrated with the progress of his research and decides to administer his experimental concoction on himself. Suddenly Dr. Harry Jekyll turns from a charming and considerate person into a malevolent being called Mr. Hyde.

To make matters worse, with Beatrix Emery gone Mr. Hyde sets his sadistic sights on a young barmaid named Ivy Peterson [Ingrid Bergman] to satisfy his brutal and abusive nature. Now, rather than detailing the entire plot I will just say that the director Victor Fleming does a really excellent job of capturing the dark and gloomy ambiance that this movie depends upon. And while both Lana Turner and Ingrid Bergman turn in very good performances, it is Spencer Tracy who really makes this film so successful.

Spencer Tracy plays the dual leading role, and does pretty well at creating two distinct personalities and the transformation uses only minimal special effects, and relies on Spencer Tracy to make the characters convincing. Lana Turner as Beatrix Emery and Ingrid Bergman as Ivy Peterson work well together, and the rest of the cast members are also all very good. What the film lacks in excitement it makes up for in making Dr. Harry Jekyll's world believable.

Spencer Tracy is magnificent in this character, doing Mr. Hyde basically with changes in behaviour and agility rather than heavy make-up and really scared me to death when he vaulted over a railing and down a couple of flights of stairs. This is more of a thriller than a horror film and done long before it became fashionable to throw tons of money and big-name performers at horror classics in order to produce blockbusters.

Spencer Tracy is terrific in the lead, but his make-up for Hyde is too subtle to be effective. The transformations require him to stand completely still which makes them a bit dull. The final transformation is quite an achievement however. The film also contains some fine Victor Fleming touches, including his beautiful slow pans over magnificent sets and crowd scenes. The cinematography is excellent and the spooky eerie atmospheric foggy Victorian London is recreated stunningly.                                                                                           

This version of the classic “Dr. Jekyll & Mr. Hyde” story is more slow-moving and psychological than most. Rather than emphasizing the more horrific elements of the story, it relies on a good cast to bring out the ways that the characters and their relationships are affected by the doctor's weird experiment. It's not the version to watch if you are looking for excitement or horror, but as a more psychological approach it mostly works.

‘DR. JEKYLL AND MR. HYDE’ is a Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer remake of the classic 1931 thriller ‘Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde’ and offers less horror on display and more psychological examination on the nature of evil. With Spencer Tracy playing the dual-natured protagonist and antagonist and the star duo of Ingrid Bergman and Lana Turner cast against type as the two primary women in the lives of Dr. Harry Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, Victor Fleming’s production emphasises Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer gloss and polish but leaves the viewer a little unsatisfied if memories of previous versions.

Dr. Harry Jekyll believes good and evil exist in everyone and has been conducting experiments on animals to control their opposite natures with a particular thesis in mind, much to the chagrin of Sir Charles Emery whose daughter Beatrix Emery is engaged to Dr. Harry Jekyll and inevitably creates a potion that will allow his evil side, Mr. Hyde, to come to the forefront, but he believes he can control Mr. Hyde’s emergence with the proper doses of his formula. Mr. Hyde has taken a particular fancy to a loose-living barmaid Ivy Petersen and sets her up in an apartment where she’s a virtual prisoner and a sex slave who’s often beaten. Eventually Dr. Harry Jekyll realises for Ivy Peterson’s safety and for his life with Beatrix Emery to proceed that his experiment must end and takes measures to put his evil ways behind him, but he’s shocked to discover that Mr. Hyde can emerge at will despite Dr. Harry Jekyll’s best efforts, and it now becomes a battle to see which side of his conflicting nature will win out.

Spencer Tracy certainly delineates the split personalities of Dr. Harry Jekyll and Mr. Hyde marvellously, and the film’s one great shock moment when he’s revealed as Mr. Hyde when we think he’s Dr. Harry Jekyll is played with creepy perfection. Ingrid Bergman is a gifted actress who has no trouble sharing the screen with a presence as commanding as Spencer Tracy, but Ingrid Bergman’s attempts at a Cockney accent in the early goings on are lamentable, and Ingrid Bergman wisely just forgets about it as the film progresses, after all, neither Spencer Tracy nor Lana Turner are attempting any kind of British accent, thank goodness for that. Lana Turner is less successful as the cultured, upper crust Beatrix Emery, but Donald Crisp is a forceful father as Sir Charles Emery. Other notable performances in the film are Ian Hunter as Dr. Harry Jekyll’s best friend Dr. John Lanyon, Barton MacLane as the madly wicked Sam Higgins who sets Dr. Harry Jekyll’s mind to pondering the nature of good and evil, C.  Aubrey Smith as the benevolent Bishop, and Peter Godfrey as Dr. Harry Jekyll’s loving and faithful servant Poole.

Director Victor Fleming’s screenwriter of choice John Lee Mahin has based his script not on Robert Louis Stevenson’s original novella but on the screenplay for the 1931 film version written by Samuel Hoffenstein and Percy Heath which was based on the stage version of the story which first brought into the tale the good and bad girl playthings for the title characters. John Lee Mahin has expanded on the Ivy Petersen character to give star Ingrid Bergman more dramatic opportunities in this version, but it’s resulted in a movie that drags somewhat in the centre and isn’t as racy as the earlier version due to its being a pre-Code film and this one falling directly under the ham-fisted pronouncements of the Hays Code. We hear of Mr. Hyde’s sadistic treatment of Ivy Petersen, but we see precious little of it, and, of course, a couple of beating deaths are both handled out of the sight of the camera. The transformations from Dr. Harry Jekyll to Mr. Hyde have been somewhat modified from before also due to the less extensive make-up and less exaggerated appliances that have been fitted to Spencer Tracy to make his wild-eyed Mr. Hyde different to his doe-eyed Dr. Harry Jekyll, but Victor Fleming does navigate the segues from one personality to the other very nicely, and he also shoots some rather disturbing visions of Mr. Hyde’s evil to clarify for viewers the discomforts to come. Director Victor Fleming also stages and shoots Mr. Hyde uproar at a music hall with verve and abandonment. I also felt very unnerved with some of the scenes when Spencer Tracy transforms into the menacing Mr. Hyde and near the end of the film Spencer Tracy really shows off the real nasty side when he tries to get away from the police, but of course eventually Mr. Hyde gets his justified comeuppance.    

If you're already familiar with the story in its more horrific version, it is well worth taking a look if you're interested in a different take on this ‘DR. JEKYLL AND MR. HYDE’ this version. The best part of the film is viewing the two amazing female leads, Ingrid Bergman, who is very uncharacteristically in this film, but this time plays a tramp, whereas Lana Turner is also quite good in her role in the film, and Spencer Tracy, who is always a very interesting actor, especially with the transformation from one good character to a really nasty evil character, and there you have three good leads who really makes this film really watchable, and keeps you guessing with every twist and turn tight to the end of the film.


SEE ME DANCE THE POLKA (uncredited) (Music and Lyrics by George Grossmith) (Additional Lyrics by John Lee Mahin) [Sung by Alice Mock in the “Palace of Frivolities” show] [Reprised by Ingrid Bergman] [Whistled by Spencer Tracy] (whistling dubbed by Robert Bradford)

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Blu-ray Image Quality – Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer and Warner Archive Collection presents us the 1941 film ‘DR. JEKYLL AND MR. HYDE’ with a brilliant 1080p Black-and-White image 4K scan of best surviving preservation elements and to the surprise of no one, its beautiful and shown in the standard 1.37:1 aspect ratio of that period. The Black-and-White image is well saturated with a crisp look at all the details and textures in the frame. This is one of those old movies made to look young again by way of likely good storage and restoration. Good depth of field work here, though a very intimate enclosed feeling movie, the rooms definitely show some room to breathe with push back and free roaming characters. Movements are natural and smooth with no issues of distortion on display. Blacks are deep and near natural levels. Their contrast really brings out the crispness to the look of the film as well as showcasing some great looks at texture and patterns. Skin tones carry that grey/white look to them and hold strong with no flicker or anything throughout the runtime. Facial information and texture comes through quite clear from any reasonable camera distance in the frame.                                                                                                           

Blu-ray Audio Quality – Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer and Warner Archive Collection brings us the 1941 film ‘DR. JEKYLL AND MR. HYDE’ with a wonderful really clean sounding and crisp audio track for its age. Vocals have a really nice presence in this well balanced mix that really has good layering and depth to these effects and composed film scoring. No major amounts of hiss, popping, or distortion was heard along the way, and no audio sync issues could be detected either, rounding out the experience nicely. Overall, this is one of the better presentations from Warner Archive Collection for a film of this age. Perhaps its source was in excellent condition. In this trailer, it shrouds the appearance of Mr. Hyde and boldly proclaims “your eyes have never seen entertainment so graphically filmed.”

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Blu-ray Special Features and Extras:

Theatrical Trailer [1941] [480i] [1.37:1] [3:43] This is the Original Theatrical Trailer for the film ‘DR. JEKYLL AND MR. HYDE.’ They announce: “Blazing from the epic pages of one of the world’s greatest novels . . . A strange story of mystery and adventure . . . Love and laughter . . . of the light side of life, and the dark! Amazing! Outstanding! Astonishing! Your eyes have never seen ENTERTAINMENT so graphically filmed! Every moment is ELECTRIC with ACTION! Every scene is ALIVE with EMOTION! We have deliberately camouflaged the appearance of “MR. HYDE” after you have seen Spencer Tracy’s startling characterization; please do not reveal it to your friends, least you lessen their enjoyment of the new season’s first dramatic hit! YOU MUST SEE IT TO BELIEVE IT!

Finally, ‘DR. JEKYLL AND MR. HYDE,’ gives us Victor Fleming’s a nice slice of classic horror from the early 1940’s that boasts the cast of Spencer Tracy, Ingrid Bergman and Lana Turner and other thespians of that period, all of them playing against type. Warner Archive Collection has restored it with a gorgeous transfer and really well done cleaned up audio for a beautiful presentation. Unfortunately, we’re only left with a theatrical trailer to check out after the credits. But despite this, it is nice to see the grand work being brought to this Blu-ray release and brought into the 20th century for modern audiences to appreciate a truly classic spooky Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer film to enjoy. Victor Fleming’s ‘DR. JEKYLL AND MR. HYDE,’ is a film on its own merits and especially with the excellent performances from Spencer Tracy and Ingrid Bergman and is a definite glossy Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer production that’s always a pleasure to watch time after time. Highly Recommended!

Andrew C. Miller – Your Ultimate No.1 Film Aficionado 
Le Cinema Paradiso 
United Kingdom

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