Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde – Rouben Mamoulian
Following this is a scene which takes place in Jekyll’s laboratory where, after three days of unflagging experimentation, Jekyll has produced a bubbling elixir which awaits its final test. The doctor hesitates for one long moment, then raises the flask and drinks the foaming potion. Suddenly, a spasm convulses his body, and he writhes in pain, his face horribly contorted. This scene portraying the initial transformation from Dr. Jekyll to Mr. Hyde is a cinemagraphic masterpiece since it was done without the usual series of dissolves to accommodate makeup changes. The use of a number of colored gelatin filters caused March’s makeup to appear to change and, as Struss’s camera relentlessly focuses on Jekyll’s face, the audience watches in horror as the evil in his soul permeates and contorts his features into a dark and loathsome mask of wickedness and malice before their very eyes. Moving with an ani¬mal’s quick grace, Hyde grins savagely in the mirror and then, throwing a cape around his shoulders, leaves the lab by the back door.
In a later scene, the doctor restlessly paces his lab, his life in limbo. General Carew, concerned over Jekyll’s refusal to give up his research, has taken his daughter to Bath on an extended holiday. A telegram from Bath informing the doctor that Muriel will not be returning for at least another month incites Jekyll to action. Downing a draft of the potion, he changes quickly to Hyde and slinks off into the foggy London streets. After making inquiries at Ivy Pearson’s boarding house about her whereabouts, Hyde proceeds to the Blue Boar dance hall where, amidst the bacchanalian revelry, he observes Ivy flitting about with debauched abandon. Hyde snatches up a broken glass and with a savage, threatening gesture, chases away Ivy’s escort. Then, with a wolfish, terrifying intensity, he turns to Ivy and says, “You’ll come with me, eh?”
From this point on, the pace of the movie quickens dramatically; time lapses are effected through a series of dissolves and slow fades as Jekyll catapults, through the character of Mr. Hyde, toward an abyss from which there is no escape. The sound effects, including the use of quickening heartbeats, builds suspense throughout the ensuing scenes to a raw, nerve-jangling level of intensity. Having been informed of the recent return to London of General Carew and his daughter, Jekyll is deeply disturbed and full of remorse over his recent indulgences. Deciding to end his double life, he sends his butler, Poole (Edgar Norton), with a fifty-pound note and a message to be delivered to Ivy. In addition, he gives his butler the key to the rear door of his lab, stating that he will no longer have need of it.
Later, Ivy arrives at the doctor’s home to return his money and beg his assistance in freeing herself from Hyde’s sadistic attentions. Jekyll, remorseful over the anguish which he has caused her, promises that she will never see Hyde again. However, Jekyll has unleashed the licentious Mr. Hyde once too often. The fragile chain of conscious control has been irrevocably broken and the beast lurks ever-present, unshackled, and ready to claw its way into the upper consciousness of Jekyll’s mind. Totally unaware of this irreversible change that has occurred within himself, Jekyll strolls happily through the park on his way to the Carew home. Following their return from Bath, the General has undergone a change of heart and agreed to an early marriage between Dr. Jekyll and his daughter, and this is the night the formal wedding announcement is to be made. Suddenly, with dynamic primitive force, Hyde takes over Jekyll’s body and walks towards Ivy’s flat. Here, he informs the terrified Ivy that he is the wonderful Dr. Jekyll in which she has believed; then, with a pagan enjoyment, he wantonly takes her life. Smashing his way through the curious onlookers who have heard Ivy’s screams and gathered on the stairs, Hyde escapes into the safety of the darkness.