Oscar Movies: Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde (1932)

Rouben Mamoulian’s “Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde,” from a screenplay by Samuel Hoffenstein and Percy heath, is based on the poplar Robert Louis Stevenson novella.

It was Mamoulan’s third successful film, following the critically acclaimed “Applause” and “City Streets.” “Dr. Jekyll” is his only foray into the horror genre.

The source material has been used before in the silent 1920 feature, with John Barrymore, and the great French actor and mime Jean-Louis Barault played the famous part in Renoir’s “Testament of Docteur Cordelier.”

Fredrick March, then at the height of his career, plays the titular role, and under Mamoulian’s direction, his transformation, from the handsome Jekyll into the deformed and diabolical Hyde is mesmerizing.

Less effective in the romantic scenes, March is utterly compelling as the tortured Hyde. Even so, March won his first Best Actor Oscar in a tie with Wallace Berry, recognized for “The Champ.”

This version is known for the spectacular, haunting imagery, courtesy of cinematographer Karl Struss, who deserved received an Oscar nod; the winner however was Les garmes for “Shanghai Express.”

The acting of the two women, Miriam Hopkins as Ivy and especially Rose Hobart as Muriel, is uneven.

Overall, this adaptation is superior to the one made a decade later with Spencer Tracy and Ingrid Bergman