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Monday, October 16, 2006


Directed by Rouben Mamoulian

1931 was quite a year for horror films. Universal Studios inaugurated their parade of classics that year with "Dracula" and "Frankenstein" and Paramount Studios made the quick decision to hop on the terror train by adapting Robert Louis Stevenson's "The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde". It had been given the silent treatment eleven times, most memorably with John Barrymore in the lead role, but this 1931 version is hands down the best. I'll assume that those of you bothering to read this list already know the basic turns of the tale but let me remind you that when Dr. Jekyll gulps down his chemical concoction he doesn't create Mr. Hyde because Mr. Hyde was always there. He emerges as the hairy and lecherous representation of all those horny and sadistic desires that the good doctor has been trying to suppress. The good doctor, engaged to marry a respectable Victorian lady, had eyes for the prostitute Ivy before that potion went down the pipes. Such repression of desires can clearly have more disastrous effects than a bout of ye olde blue balls. If you bottle up those feelings and let the pressure build for too long there will very likely be a dangerous explosion. Mr. Hyde, when he finally emerges, gleefully says "Free! Free at last!" and off he goes with top hat and cane beneath the foggy gaslights of London to indulge in an assortment of despicable acts, climaxing in the sexualized murder of Ivy. Fredric March steals the show as Mr. Split Personality and actually won the Academy Award that year for best actor. He deserved it. He is absolutely fucking crazed, impossible to reason with, rocketing towards perdition and beware, friends, because studies have shown that the same could happen to you!


Blogger ThePropheticNumber5 said...

Again, I have to totally agree with you. I think this movie is terribly underrated, just like Carol Borland (ha ha). I bought this movie and watched it for the first time about 5 years ago. I was blown away! The performance of Frederick March and the makeup of Mr. Hyde, including his transformation scenes, really made for a true masterpiece of horror and story-telling in general.

12:25 AM  

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