The Two Faces of Dr. Jekyll

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The Two Faces of Dr. Jekyll

Post  BoG on Wed Jun 10, 2015 11:41 pm


The Two Faces of Dr. Jekyll (1960) Directed by Terence Fisher. 88 mins.

Paul Massie - Dr. Henry Jekyll / Mr. Edward Hyde
Dawn Addams - Kitty Jekyll
Christopher Lee - Paul Allen
David Kossoff - Dr. Ernst Litauer  What a Face Norma Marla - Maria
Francis De Wolff - Inspector  What a Face  Joy Webster - Jenny  What a Face  Oliver Reed - Tough

Hammer version of the famous Jekyll & Hyde story, notable for the very early small role for Oliver Reed as a pimp.
For whatever reason, Jekyll/ Hyde films are almost always excellent. And such is the case here. The opening 10 minutes are tough going, as a long exposition scene unambiguously sets out the theme. "Our lust and our violence feed the weaker man," says Jekyll's friend Ernst. "That is why there are so few saints and so many sinners." But then the stage is set for one of the most intense and tragic of all Jekyll/ Hyde films - and that's saying quite a bit. Brilliantly, writer Wolf Mankowitz (who also wrote Day the Earth Caught Fire) makes Jekyll the hairy deep-voiced one and Hyde the smooth clean one. He also makes Jekyll insular and aloof like Cushing's Frankenstein. Hyde is completely amoral and (in another stroke of brilliance) unflinchingly rational and calculating. Evil arises not from simple-minded indulgence but from high-minded coldness and reason.

Paul Massie annoyed me at first, but his performance as Jekyll/ Hyde expands its emotional range in nearly every scene. Strangely, this is Massie's only famous role. Dawn Addams (Zeta One) plays Jekyll's manipulative red-headed wife with wicked charm. Christopher Lee plays Jekyll's manipulative pointy-sideburned friend with charming wickedness. Although the main story is familiar, the "two sides of Man" theme is enhanced with new dimensions. Jekyll overcomes his repression when he transforms into Hyde, but Hyde is also more honest than Jekyll. Honesty is rarely associated with evil. Yet, paradoxically, Hyde's honesty serves his manipulativeness (witness his seduction of Maria and his pitting Paul and Kitty against one another). Hammer's trademark colors, costumes, and sets are showcased start to finish. A saucy snake dance and wild can-can are performed in the Sphinx cabaret.

Goldweber, David Elroy (2012-06-14). Claws & Saucers: Science Fiction, Horror, and Fantasy Film: A Complete Guide: 1902-1982 (Kindle Locations 72807-72808). David E. Goldweber. Kindle Edition.
From what I recall, the one moment that was very lame to me involved a snake and Chris Lee's character, who gets killed by the serpent - but the snake seemed half-asleep during this whole ordeal. BoG's Score: 6 out of 10


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