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Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde – Rouben Mamoulian

Submitted by matt on January 24, 2011 – 1:42 amNo Comment

Unable to return to his laboratory and no longer being in possession of the rear door key, Hyde sends a message by porter to his friend Lanyan, instructing him to retrieve certain chemicals from his lab and give them to a messenger whom Jekyll will send to Lanyan’s home at midnight. Lanyan, however, refuses to release the package to the suspicious-looking Mr. Hyde. Having no choice, Hyde mixes and drinks the potion, reverting to Dr. Jekyll before the disbelieving, horrified eyes of his friend. Jekyll swears Lanyan to secrecy, promising that in return for his trust, he will give up Muriel and never again take the potion.

With a heavy heart, Jekyll arrives at the Carew home and informs Muriel that he is releasing her from her marriage commitment. However, as he leaves -the house, Hyde again takes possession of Jekyll’s mind and body. Reentering the house, he pursues Muriel, who screams at the sight of this horrifying stranger. General Carew comes to his daughter’s rescue, but Hyde savagely beats the old man with his cane and escapes into the night. Two constables, alerted by the General’s cries for help, take up the chase, tracking their suspect to the home of Dr. Jekyll. Frantically Hyde mixes his potion with the constables pounding on the door. At the last second, as the door finally succumbs to their persistent barrage, Hyde changes back to Jekyll and convinces the officers who have burst into the room that the murderer, Hyde, has been there but has escaped by the back door. At this moment, Lanyan appears and reveals to the constables that Jekyll himself is the ruthless, cold-blooded killer whom they seek. Shock and anger at Lanyan’s betrayal brings the ever-present Hyde back to the surface. He attacks Lanyan and then the police until his frenzy of unbridled hatred is finally halted by a bullet; and, as the formless evil power slowly dissipates, Jekyll emerges to claim his dying and desecrated body.

Mamoulian’s finely etched, visual interpretation of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde possesses the timeless elegance of the Stevenson classic. Each scene is a hand-carved cameo, perfect in lighting and composition. The characters of Jekyll and Hyde allowed Mamoulian to draw upon the full range of his theatrical genius, to portray the elemental struggle of man’s emotions against a back¬ground of rich symbolic imagery. In one scene, violence is junaposed against a lyric view of romantic statuary, and in another, a bubbling cauldron flickers in the flames of a fireplace, providing a fleeting symbolic glimpse • of the hell lurking in man’s soul. March is stunning in his portrayal of Jekyll and Hyde, a role which earned him an Academy Award for Best Actor. His interpretation of Hyde’s unsheathed wickedness pares Jekyll’s civilized veneer in one clean, devastating stroke, stupefying audiences with its raw and savage intensity, and making the Mamoulian production of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde a classic of the horror film genre.

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