The Two Faces of Dr. Jekyll (1960)

Genres - Drama, Horror, Thriller  |   Sub-Genres - Costume Horror, Supernatural Horror  |   Run Time - 80 min.  |   Countries - United Kingdom   |   MPAA Rating - NR
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This offbeat take on the Dr. Jekyll And Mr. Hyde archetype was considered a misfire in its day but time has been kind to its unorthodox take on this familiar story. Wolf Mankowitz's script downplays thrills and chills for a psychological exploration of the Jekyll/Hyde duality and uses this story to create a pointed critique of the repression and hypocrisy of the Victorian era. Terence Fisher directs the complex tale with energy and verve, ably selling both the glittery temptation of the "sins" that Hyde craves and the inevitable, demoralizing comedown that Jekyll suffers. Paul Massie's performance as the title character gets a little overdone during the transformation scenes but he does a nice job of inhabiting both characters, delineating them with a minimum of makeup and bringing a sometimes startling intensity to his work. There is also excellent support from Dawn Addams as Jekyll's smart but morally dubious wife and a convincing character turn by Christopher Lee as Jekyll's traitorous, vice-loving best friend. Both Addams and Lee create characters who are complex and have likeable qualities despite their less-than-sympathetic roles in the plotline. In fact, Lee might give his best non-Dracula performance in a Hammer production here. All in all, The Two Faces Of Dr. Jekyll is a unique and effective mediation on a familiar horror archetype and well worth a look to students of the genre.