Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde (1932)

Genres - Horror  |   Sub-Genres - Costume Horror, Sci-Fi Horror  |   Run Time - 97 min.  |   Countries - United States   |   MPAA Rating - NR
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Review by Craig Butler

Director Rouben Mamoulian had already proved, with his earlier Applause and City Streets, that it was possible to make a sound film that was not enslaved by the limitations that most accepted as part and parcel of the new sound technology. Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde was even more impressive in its use of a fluid camera, interesting shots and angles, and (for the most part) quality sound reproduction. Mamoulian has a field day telling this familiar story; he uses the subjective point-of-view to make the viewer complicit in Jekyll's sins and seems to be having a love affair with close-ups of characters' eyes (the windows of the soul). Through clever use of lighting and careful editing, his transformation sequences are also startling and effective (helped enormously, of course, by Wally Westmore's superb makeup for Hyde). Mamoulian's work is, thankfully, not an example of mere egotism, but rather is used in support of a very good script that, while it overemphasizes the sexual decadence of Hyde at the expense of his overall innate evilness, has been written with the demands of the cinema in mind. Mamoulian is also helped by a first-rate cast, led by Fredric March's irreplaceable turn as the title characters. March captures both the extremes of civility and savagery that are demanded of him; he also manages to inject humor into the proceedings and to make Jekyll a fully rounded individual, even to the point of letting the audience see what an ignoble coward he can be. Rose Hobart makes Muriel's love for Jekyll touching and believable, and in the showy role of the tart, Miriam Hopkins is splendid. Mamoulian would continue to show his versatility with his next release, the enchanting Love Me Tonight.