Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde has rightly become a classic of the horror movie genre, but unlike any other screen icon, the many cinema adaptations of Robert Louis Stevenson's tale has closely followed the evolution of cinema itself.
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Mr.Hyde was pale and dwarfish, he gave the impression of deformity without any nameable malformation, he had a displeasing smile, he had borne himself to the lawyer with a sort of murderous mixture of timidity and boldness, and he spoke with a husky, whispering and somewhat broken voice...He is not easy to describe. There is something wrong with his appearance; something downright detestable. I never saw a man I so disliked, and yet I scarce know why. He must be deformed somewhere he gives a strong feeling of deformity, although I couldn't specify the point. He's an extraordinary looking man, and yet I can really name nothing out of the way. No sir, I can make no hand of it; I can't describe him. And it's not want of memory; for I declare I can see him this moment.....

"The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde" was penned by Robert Louis Stevenson in a matter of days during one of his frequent bouts of ill health. Born in Edinburgh during 1850, his interest in the duality of man had begun when he found himself living a double life. The son of a respectable family, Stevenson became fascinated in the "dregs of humanity", something that the social elite pretended never existed. Tormented by his conscience, it is more likely that he drew on his own personal experiences for the story, but in 1879 Stevenson wrote a play titled "The Richard MansfieldDouble Life of Deacon Brodie" founded upon the exploits of an Edinburgh counsellor who was hanged for burglary in 1799. After a frightful dream, Stevenson wrote about the events surrounding Dr. Jekyll in just three days, but his wife Fanny Osbourne described the first draft as nothing more than a "shilling shocker". Within a matter of weeks, Stevenson's rewritten manuscript was published by Longmans who released the novel in January of 1886. The book became an immediate success, selling over 40 thousand copies in the first six months. Only a year had passed when the story was adapted for the stage by theatrical entrepreneur Thomas Russell Sullivan who cast thirty year old matinee idol Richard Mansfield in the dual role. His first appearance as the infamous Dr. Jekyll took place at the Mansfield Playbill 1888...click for larger imageBoston Museum on May 9th.1887 to a gathered crowd of dignitaries. Mansfield writhed and contorted himself, and with the aid of lighting would become the evil Mr. Hyde to the gasps of astonishment from the public. Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde would remain in Mansfield's repertoire until his death in 1907 after touring through most of America and Europe.
Other actors to take on the demanding dual role included Oscar Dane, Howard Pool and Daniel E. Bandmann who was credited as portraying the most grotesque seen on the stage. However, the greatest rival to all the actors were the all too real exploits of Jack the Ripper, a killer who was terrorising London with a series of murders in the Whitechapel district. So great was the public's fear that Mansfield's ten-week engagement at the Lyceum Theatre in London was closed down when the newspapers reported that ..."there is quite sufficient to make us shudder out of doors."

In 1897, three years after Stevenson's death, Luella Forepaugh and George F. Fish presented their version of the tale in four acts which was performed many times. In 1908 it was still touring America with the Thomas R. Sullivan company when Colonel William Selig of the Polyscope Film Company attended one of the performances in Chicago. Selig asked the troupe if they could perform the play in front of his cameras, thereby condensing all four acts into one reel of film. It is still rumoured that an earlier version of the novel was filmed in 1897, but there seems to be no evidence to corroborate this claim.
Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde also known as THE MODERN DR. JEKYLL began with the raising of the stage curtain. Dr. Jekyll vows his undying love for Alice, a vicar's daughter, in her spacious garden. Suddenly, seized by his addiction to the chemical formula, Jekyll begins to convulse and distort himself into the villainous Mr. Hyde. He savagely attacks Alice, and when her father tries to intervene, Mr. Hyde takes great delight in slaughtering him. Later on, Jekyll transforms again, but haunted by visions of the gallows, Mr. Hyde takes a fatal dose of poison, killing both identities. In true theatrical tradition, the curtain then closes to an assumably appreciative audience.
Regarded by many as a prestigious production, the critics were enthusiastic, giving the anonymous actor in the title role special mention.
"The change is displayed with a dramatic ability almost beyond comprehension."

Nordisk Films Kompagni of Copenhagen was founded in November of 1906 by Ole Olsen and the company produced 560 films between the years 1907 and 1910. Amongst these is Den Skaebnesvangre Opfindelse (1909) written and directed by August Blom. Alwin Neuss is credited as Jekyll and Hyde with Emilie Sannom as Maud, Jekyll's love interest. This film is more faithful to Stevenson's novel than the popular Mansfield stageplay, but the cheat ending, popular for films at this time, discounts the film as just a figment of Jekyll's vivid imagination. One reviewer of the time wrote "the last scene shows Jekyll struggling with the nightmare in his chair and, awakening in the presence of Maud, thanks God it was all a dream. We are inclined to think that Stevenson might just as well have done the same thing without hurting his story".

The same year saw the Wrench Company of Great Britain release their 560 foot version titled The Duality of Man. This time Mr. Hyde is observed in a garden playing poker for high stakes when he suddenly grabs the money and runs off to his chambers only to revert back to the kindly Dr. Jekyll. At his home Jekyll receives his fiancÚ Hilda and her father, but Hyde again takes control and Hilda's father is murdered in front of his daughter. Hot on Hyde's trail are the detectives, but to avoid capture Hyde drinks a fatal dose of poison.
The most widely known of the early renditions is Thanhouser's production of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde of 1911 mostly because this is the oldest version still in existence.Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde (1911) Filmed in New Rochelle, New York, released in 1912 and directed by Lucius Henderson, this adaptation begins with the white-haired Dr. Jekyll secretly locked in his laboratory administering himself with a phial of formula. He slumps into his chair with his head on his chest. Slowly, as the drug takes effect, a dark-haired, taloned beast now appears in the chair. After repeated use, Jekyll's evil alter ego emerges at will, causing Jekyll to murder his sweetheart's father. The evil personality scuttles back to the laboratory only to discover that the antidote is finished and that he will be as Mr. Hyde forever. A burly policeman breaks down Jekyll's door to find that the kindly doctor is dead after taking poison.
James Cruze, later to become a prominent director during the '20's, portrays Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde with his future wife Marguerite Snow as the minister's daughter. However, fifty years later it was discovered that a stock company member named Harry Benham also portrayed Mr. Hyde in some of the scenes.
"As Cruze and I were the same size, we could wear the same clothes and wig, but not the same set of false teeth! We had separate sets, which we kept attached with the same powdered mastic that denture wearers use today. What I remember most about the making of the picture is that we were constantly changing clothes after almost every scene. In those days pictures were turned out like a butcher grinds out sausage. Sometimes it took only three days to turn out a one-reeler, but this one was slower because of the delays in changing the characters, so it lasted over a week of filming, much to Thanhouser's chagrin!".

Independent Motion Picture Co.Carl Laemmle, the son of a poor Jewish estate agent, was born in Laupheim, Germany in 1867. By 1884, he had emigrated to America and in 1905 he invested his savings into a nickelodeon chain and his fortunes were made. By 1909 he entered into film production as the Independent Motion Picture Co. as a slight against the new Motion Picture Patents Co. that planned to take control over the whole film industry. Out of the ensuing battle emerged Universal, an amalgamation of IMP, Bison, Eclair, Nestor and several other small film companies. Amongst their early productions was a successful string of films based on classic literature. One of these is Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde (1913) starring Universal's biggest box office draw of the day, King Baggott who had been lured to the studio by Laemmle in 1910 at the end of a stage tour. Real Media Clip Praised for his actingKing Baggott as Mr Hyde 1913 abilities, the series of one reel films brought him world-wide attention after which Universal cast him in Shadows (1914) portraying no fewer than ten separate roles.
Like so many other performers of this period, it was standard prctice for the actors to apply their own make-up, and while  assuming the dual role of Jekyll and Hyde, King Baggott employed a variety of different greasepaints and a tangled mass of crepe hair. Through a series of camera dissolves Baggott was able to achieve an effective transformation that astounded audiences. This is the only version in which Jekyll almost discovers an antidote. The film was written and directed by Irishman Herbert Brenon who would later direct Lon Chaney in MGM's LAUGH CLOWN LAUGH in 1928.

In 1913 Vitaskop of Germany released Der Andere (The Other), starring Albert Basserman as Dr. Hallers and directed by Max Mack from a stageplay by Paul Lindau. Basserman had gone against the present restrictions implemented by theatres who were fighting a film medium that was poaching most of their best actors. His appearance in the film completely undermined the theatre owners and DER ANDERE became one of the first German films to be seriously regarded by the press.
The same year also saw Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde produced by Charles Urban's Kinemacolor Company. This is now recognised as Britain's first all-colour horror film, but unfortunately for theatre owners to show the film a system of two double-speed projectors fitted with revolving green and red filters was required. Ultimately the distribution of the film was so limited that even the trade papers were unable to review it.

With a story so popular, it would only be a matter of time before the parodies would be made, and in 1914 Warner Brothers released DR. JEKYLL AND MR. HYDE, DONE TO A FRAZZLE followed by another comic adaptation by The Starlight Motion Picture Co. The Lubin Studios in Jacksonville, Florida also released Horrible Hyde directed and starring Jerold T. Hevener as Mr. Hyde who takes great delight in frightening people.
Ein Seltsamer Fall (1914)In the meantime 1914 also saw Vitascope's 5 reel release of Ein Seltsamer Fall, an unofficial adaptation of the story from Germany starring Alwin Neuss who became popular with his performances of Sherlock Holmes in the Der Hund von Baskerville series that began the same year. For Germany, however, the idea of split personalities, or "doppelgangers" was an old one and used in many stories before Stevenson's novel.
Vitagraph released Miss Jekyll and Madame Hyde in 1915, but this was a Faustian tale starring Paul Scardon as Satan attempting to claim an evil-doer's soul with a title hoping to cash-in on the story's popularity.
Another source also mentions that DR. JEKYLL AND MR. HYDE and another film simply titled DR. JEKYLL were released in 1917.

It is without doubt that the finest year for the story's screen adaptations was 1920. The first of these was Adolph Zukor's production titled Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde for Paramount studios and starring John Barrymore. Before Lon Chaney had established himself as the Master of the Macabre, John BarrymoreDr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde (1920) (1882-1942), famed for his striking profile, revelled in portraying an array of bizarre characters on stage and screen. The film was shot at Paramount's studio on Long Island, New York while Barrymore was also appearing on stage in the evenings as Richard III. Reportedly Barrymore collapsed from nervous exhaustion resulting in a time spent at White Plains sanatorium.
John Stuart Robertson directed the story and at the time claimed the distinction of putting the most title cards into a film. Set in Victorian London, the script introduced elements to the story that were to become standard for future film adaptations, such as the  addition of two leading ladies, in this instance Martha Mansfield appears as Jekyll's angelic sweetheart Millicent Carew and Nita Naldi is Gina the curvaceous dancing temptress of London's Soho. Also contrary to the original novel, Hyde's appearance steadily worsened with each transformation, displaying the alter ego's continuing control over Jekyll. 
This was the first adaptation to include Jekyll's amoral mentor, here named Sir George Carewe played by Brandon Hurst, in a thinly disguised plot device taken from Oscar Wilde's "The Picture of Dorian Gray". Barrymore's transformation scenes were Barrymore as Mr.Hyde (1920)played with obvious relish as the actor writhed and twisted himself in grand fashion owing much more to stage conventions than to the cinema. Such was his performance that during one scene, one of his false finger nails flies off. Having been a close friend of Richard Mansfield's father Maurice, it is possible that Barrymore was influenced by Richard's acclaimed stage performances.
The only camera dissolve used during the transformation was a shot of Barrymore's fingers changing into long, sharp talons and then cutting back to show the actor in full Hyde make-up. He managed to depict a misshapen creature with an unusual walk and tousled spidery hair, resembling not so much a man as an insect. Real Media Clip Even on repeating viewing, Barrymore's portrayal is no less than astonishing. So pleased was the actor with the performance that he virtually repeated the role for DON JUAN in 1926, and copied the make-up for his appearance in THE SEA BEAST, a Moby Dick adaptation made the same year.
The film is filled with striking images including Hyde's incessant beating of George Carewe; Hyde's shrivelled skin stroking the smooth flesh of a prostitute and of particular interest the emergence of a spider that settles on a sleeping Jekyll and melts into his body. To depict this infection of Jekyll's soul, Barrymore had to wear the cumbersome giant spider costume and full Hyde makeup on his face. Also of note is the depiction of Gina, once a thing of beauty reduced to a shallow eyed lifeless shell by Hyde's boundless evil. It was, however, Barrymore's portrayal that made this film the definitive version of the silent era.

Only a matter of weeks had passed since Paramount's film premiered at the Rivoli Theatre in New York City when Pioneer Films released their own version of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde made solely to profit from Paramount's superior film. Pioneer's producer Louis B. Mayer, soon to become the head of MGMSheldon Lewis in Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde (1920) Studios, set this poverty-row dud in contemporary New York, firstly to avoid lawsuits from Paramount, and secondly to save on the expense of period costumes. The film starred Sheldon Lewis who had been associated with serials after appearing as The Clutching Hand in the Pearl White cliffhanger The Exploits of Elaine (1914). Lewis virtually reprised his role from the serials for Louis B. Mayer while his transformation scene was provided by a cheap cutaway shot to his butler exclaiming that Jekyll is now "the apostle from Hell!". Hyde, complete with fangs and scraggy hair skulks through the city committing such heinous acts as stealing a woman's purse. The police eventually catch up with Hyde, interrogate him, put him in gaol and strap him to the electric chair. Sitting in his chair at home, Jekyll awakes from his nightmare to declare "I believe in God! I have a soul..." and decides not to create the chemical potion.
This five reeler deservedly fell into obscurity, while no one ever referred to it again. The director removed his name from the credits and Louis B. Mayer disowned it.
Interestingly Sheldon Lewis reprised the role again for a short 1929 sound film.

Der Januskopf (1920)November of 1920 saw the release of Der Januskopf: Eine Tragodie am Rand der Wirklichkeit (Janus-Faced: A Tragedy on the Border of Reality). This German variation was directed by F.W. Murnau and photographed by Karl Freund during a time when Germany was completely isolated after World War I, so isolated that Murnau never bothered to pay for the adaptation rights to the story. Screenwriter Hans Janowitz, also responsible for the script for The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari, altered the names of the title characters to Dr. Warren and Mr. O'Connor with the mighty Conrad Veidt cast in the dual role.
Dr. Warren browses through a London antique shop and becomes mesmerised by a statuette of the Roman god Janus. The bust has two faces, one god-like, the other diabolical and it exerts a strange influence on Dr. Warrren, who through his obsession with the statue begins to transform into the evil Mr. O'Connor. Warren's new personality begins a series of viscious crimes including the murder of a young child. Warren offers the statue to his sweetheart Jane Lanyon, (Margarete Schlegel), but when she refuses and expresses her horror, she later finds herself kidnapped and taken to a Whitechapel whorehouse where she sees the statue again. The bust is sent to auction, but under the influence of Mr. O'Connor, Dr. Warren purchases the statue and returns it to his laboratory. Unable to escape his inevitable capture, Mr. O'Connor takes poison and dies clutching the cursed statue.
Unlike Murnau's later work Nosferatu (1922), DER JANUSKOPF unfortunately remains lost. Reportedly all prints were destroyed after a civil lawsuit was brought against the producers by the Stevenson estate. The loss is made more poignant by the fact that a young Bela Lugosi appears in the film as Dr. Warren's butler and that Murnau would later be regarded as one of Germany's finest directors until his tragic death in March 1931. All that remains is the script and a few stills that were discovered in the possession of the Swedish Film Archives.

For the remainder of the Twenties, the idea of any studio trying to compete with John Barrymore's established performance seemed a pointless task, but the parodies still continued. Comedian Stan Laurel, before his association with Oliver Hardy, had already appeared in over seventy, one and two reelers including Dr. Pyckle and Mr. Pryde produced by comedian Joe Rock for the Standard Cinema Corp. in 1925. They rented space at the Universal Studio lot on the understanding that they could use any of the standing sets, therefore this two-reeler was filmed on the exterior sets of The Hunchback of Notre Dame (1923). Laurel utilised his celebrated "scissors-jump" in his portrayal of Mr Pryde, a mischievous prankster who dashes through the streets kicking people in the seat of the pants and generally making a nuisance of himself.

Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde (1932)In 1931 Paramount saw fit to remake the story utilising the new sound medium. Real Media Clip The premier of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde on New Years Eve 1931 in New York could not have been better timed. The recent success of Universal's Dracula and Frankenstein had already renewed a public interest in the horror genre. Rouben Mamoulian, a Russian-born stage director, had been involved with motion pictures at the end of the Twenties, and now directed what is rightly considered the classic rendition of Stevenson's famous novel. Equipped with a handsome budget, studio heads had insisted on casting Irving Pichel, the then rival to Boris Karloff, in the lead role. Earlier that year Pichel had successfully chilled the marrow of audiences in Murder by the Clock. MamoulianDr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde (1932) intervened, and while he agreed that Pichel would be fine as Mr. Hyde, he did not think him suitable as Dr. Jekyll. The director suggested the young comedian and romantic leading man Frederic March, much to the objection of the studio executives even though the actor slightly resembled a young John Barrymore. Mamoulian's decision was vindicated when March was one of the first to receive an Academy Award for a horror picture, sharing the Best Actor category with Wallace Beery for his role in THE CHAMP.
Mamoulian possessed a strong visual style and was always keen to experiment. For DR. JEKYLL AND MR. HYDE he employed a lot of subjective camerawork, diagonal split screens, voice overs for what he called "audible thoughts" and an ingenious series of wipes to segue from one scene to the next. With his obvious ingenuity and an appreciation of Richard Mansfield's performances on stage, Mamoulian employed the available technology to the transformation scenes. March's features were gradually darkened with layer after layer of make up as a series of red filters were removed from the studio lights to reveal each layer of make-up and transform his character in one fluid take. This technique had originally been developed by cameraman Karl Struss for the film BEN-HUR (1925) during the healing of the lepers sequence.
Frederic March would later recall, "For six weeks, I had to arrive at the studio each morning at 6 a.m. so that Wally Westmore could spend hours building pieces on my nose and cheeks, sticking fangs in my mouth and pushing cotton wool up my nostrils."


Mamoulian was not afraid of camera movement and during one scene he presented a spinning laboratory set by tying cameraman Karl Struss to the top of his camera and revolving him to secure his 360 degree pan. For the same scene Mamoulian recorded his own heartbeats after running up and down some stairs to accompany the shot.
Mamoulian believed that "Mr. Hyde is the exact replica of the Neanderthal Man, so he's our ancestor. We were that once. The struggle or dilemma is not between evil and good, it's between the sophisticated, spiritual self in manFrederic March as Mr. Hyde and his animal, primeval instincts."
This is never more obvious than when Hyde enters the rain and lifts his face to the downpour in exhilaration, almost as if to cleanse his corrupted soul, then he ventures into the Soho district of London to attend a music hall where Champagne Ivy Pierson, (Miriam Hopkins), becomes the victim of his attentions.
Mamoulian also manages to add a heady sexuality to the story, Real Media Clip especially in scenes with Hyde and Hopkins as the fiend aggressively establishes his dominance in their relationship. Initially these scenes brought trouble from the British censors who demanded several cuts when it was felt Hyde was excessively pawing Hopkins.
Interestingly Robert Louis Stevenson's nephew appears in a small uncredited role.

Not to be outdone, Universal Studios released another parody titled DR. JEKYLL'S HIDE (1932) in an attempt to capitalise on Paramount's feature. This short film was written, produced and directed by Albert de Mond and utilised footage from IMP's previous Jekyll and Hyde adaptation of 1913.

Spencer Tracy as Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde (1941)It was in 1941 that Mamoulian's superb film almost disappeared for good after the decision was made at MGM to remake the story. To ensure that no competition or comparison could be made, MGM bought the rights to the 1932 production and hid it away in their vaults never to be screened again. It wasn't until 1967 that the film resurfaced for a tribute to Robert Mamoulian held at the Gallery of Modern Art. Even then the film had been butchered by seventeen minutes, omitting a pivotal scene of Jekyll on a bench watching a bird singing in a tree. When a cat attacks the bird Jekyll experiences another transformation, but this time without the use of his drug, depicting Jekyll's loss of control over his soul. Another cut showed Jekyll helping a young girl to walk as he sits playing his pipe organ.
Although repeatedly denied by MGM, their 1941 Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde is a carbon copy ofDr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde (1941) Mamoulian's film, but places an emphasis on the psychological aspects of the tale in a vain attempt to set it apart from all other versions. The studio had initially earmarked Robert Donat in the dual role, but settled on Spencer Tracy even though some felt he was unsuitable. Unfortunately Tracy's performance was considered only adequate. Real Media Clip When Somerset Maugham visited the set he asked "Which one is he now, Jekyll or Hyde?".
Lana Turner was originally cast to portray the singing prostitute opposite Ingrid Bergman as Jekyll's fiance, but both actresses believed thay had been miscast and swapped roles. Bergman's performance is one of the film's saving graces. Real Media Clip Unfortunately producer and director Victor Fleming, fresh from his success with GONE WITH THE WIND, offered little in the way of imagination with the story causing it to lack the energy and vitality of Paramount's release. Despite several striking scenes and Franz Waxman's rousing score, the production plods along without atmosphere.
Although Tracy's performance is closer to Stevenson's original conception, the film provided him with the only bad reviews of his entire career. Fleming relied solely on Tracy's facial contortions as Mr. Hyde rather than the traditional make-up, detracting from the film and the audiences expectations. In light of  this, MGM refused to publish any stills of Tracy as Mr. Hyde before the film's release.

The nineteen fifties began and saw all manner of liberties taken with Stevenson's story. Such a tale dealing with the seperation of good and evil in man is relevant to any era, therefore Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde will continue to be seen in many many forms, but judging by some of the recent releases, I will continue to savour the classic interpretations of the early cinema.

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