DR. JEKYLL AND MR. HYDE (1941) B/W 114m dir: Victor Fleming
w/Spencer Tracy, Ingrid Bergman, Lana Turner, Ian Hunter, Donald Crisp, C. Aubrey Smith
Robert Louis Stevenson's horror story, about a respected young doctor whose experiments uncover the monster within, is a classic doppelganger tale that's been filmed many times, including Rouben Mamoulian's excellent (and superior) 1932 version. This time around, it's brought to life by a solid cast, and the story has a psychological, rather than a horrific, emphasis.
From Variety's contemporary review of the film: "In the evident striving to make Jekyll a 'big' film, by elaborating the theme and introducing new characters and situations, some of the finer psychological points are dulled. John Lee Mahin's screenscript is overlength.
"Nevertheless, it has its highly effective moments, and Spencer Tracy plays the dual roles with conviction. His transformations from the young physician, bent on biological and mental research as an escape from his own moral weaknesses, to the demonic Mr. Hyde are brought about with considerably less alterations in face and stature than audiences might expect.
"Ingrid Bergman plays the enslaved victim of Hyde's debauches. In every scene in which the two appear, she is Tracy's equal as a strong screen personality."
FilmFrog note: Originally, MGM decreed that the two female stars would play the opposite roles from the ones they finally play in the film. In 1941 Hollywood, the two women were typecast, Bergman typically playing the innocent and Turner the seductress. But the actors talked things over, got the okay from MGM studio head Louis B. Mayer, and switched roles, so in the film Bergman plays the "bad" woman and Turner the "good" one. The effect of this unusual casting certainly shows in the women's performances, thus adding to the general level of the film's quality.
DR. JEKYLL AND MR. HYDE was nominated for three Oscars: Best B/W Cinematography (Joseph Ruttenberg), Editing (Harold F. Kress), and Scoring of a Dramatic Picture (Franz Waxman).