Oscar Movies: Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde (1941)

In Victor Fleming’s version of Robert Louis Stevenson novella, Spencer Tracy plays the lead role, a Victorian researcher who discovers a potion that transforms him into a monstrous killer.

Initially, Ingrid Bergman was cast as Jekyll’s virtuous fiancee and Lana Turner as the prostitute Ivy, but Bergman succeeded in changing he casting and landing Turner’s role, which is meatier and showier.

That said, Bergman struggles with attempting a Cockney accent, due to herheavy Swedish accent at the time.

Rouben Mamoulian’s previous version, “Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde,” in 1932, from a screenplay by Samuel Hoffenstein and Percy heath, is a better picture.

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.”

 

Oscar Bominations: 3

Cinematography (b/w): Joseph Ruttenberg

Scoring of Dramatic Picture: Franz Waxman

Film Editing: Harold F. Kress

 

Oscar Awards: None

 

Oscar Context:

The Cinematography Oscar went to Arthur Miller for How Green Is My Valley.

The Scoring Oscar was won by Bernard Herrmann for All That Money Can Buy.

The Editing Oscar went to William Holmes for Sergeant York.