Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde (1941 film)

Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde is a remake of the 1931 film of the same title. It is based on Robert Louis Stevenson's novel Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde and was directed by Victor Fleming, who also directed Gone with the Wind and The Wizard of Oz which, like this film, were both released by MGM (since Fleming had a contract with the studio), which had also acquired the rights to the 1931 film, which was originally released by Paramount Pictures. It was produced by Victor Saville, the screenplay was by John Lee Mahin which was based on the screenplay of the earlier film by Percy Heath and Samuel Hoffenstein. The music score was by Franz Waxman with uncredited contributions by Daniele Amfitheatrof and Mario Castelnuovo-Tedesco. The cinematography was by Joseph Ruttenberg, the art direction by Cedric Gibbons, and the costume design by Adrian and Gile Steele. Jack Dawn created the make-up for the dissolute Mr. Hyde's appearance.

The film stars Spencer Tracy, Ingrid Bergman and Lana Turner with Donald Crisp, Ian Hunter, Barton MacLane, C. Aubrey Smith and Sara Allgood.


Dr. Jekyll (Spencer Tracy) believes good and evil exist in everyone. Experiments reveal his evil side, named Hyde. Experience teaches him how evil Hyde can be: he kills Ivy (Ingrid Bergman), who earlier expressed interest in Jekyll, and Sir Charles (Donald Crisp), Jekyll's fiancee's father. At the end of the film, Jekyll's best friend Dr. Lanyon (Ian Hunter) shoots and kills Hyde, causing Jekyll to die as well.


Despite having not yet met his famous co-star, Spencer Tracy originally wanted Katharine Hepburn to play both Bergman's and Turner's roles as the "bad" woman and "good" woman, who would then turn out to be the same woman.


The movie was nominated for 3 Oscars: For Best Cinematography (Black-and-White), Best Film Editing & Best Music, Scoring of a Dramatic Picture. It had several elements that the 1931 version did not have - more dialogue, a "slick", lush, typically MGM "look", and a rich musical score, while the 1931 version had no more than perhaps a minute of music in the entire film.

Critical reception

The film was not the critical success that the 1931 version had been. Although it is generally conceded that Ingrid Bergman, as Ivy, was at least as good as Miriam Hopkins had been in the same role in 1931, despite her Swedish accent, and that Donald Crisp was also excellent as Sir Charles, Spencer Tracy's performance in this film, out of all the performances he ever gave, was judged inadequate, and was one of his few critically roasted roles. Tracy was not considered frightening enough as Mr. Hyde, and rather old at 41 (and too obviously American) to play Jekyll. Fredric March, who played the role in the 1931 film (a movie the studio tried to destroy to eliminate competition for the Tracy version and that was unseen for many decades), famously sent his friend Tracy an amusing telegram thanking him for his biggest career boost, as Tracy's performance was routinely savaged when compared with March's more monstrous version.


Other references

In the 1946 Warner Bros. cartoon Hare Remover, when Elmer Fudd is going through some bizarre side effects after drinking a potion he invented, Bugs Bunny turns to the audience and remarks, "I think Spencer Tracy did it much better!" Interestingly enough, Warners now owns the rights to this film (and the 1931 version) via its 1996 acquisition of Turner Entertainment which by then owned the pre-1986 MGM library.

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