Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde (1941): Victor Fleming’s Inferior Remake, Starring Spencer Tracy, Ingrid Bergman, Lana Turner

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

Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde
Jekyll-hyde 1941.jpg

Theatrical release poster

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

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

Essentially miscast, Tracy does not look much different (or frightening) when he transforms from the good to the evil man.

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

Fredric 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.”

MGM bought the rights to the 1931 film, which was made by Paramount, and tried to destroy every existing print of the 1931 picture.  Fortunately they had not succeeded and Mamoulian’s version was found and later restored.

 

Oscar Nominations: 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.

Cast

Spencer Tracy as Henry Jekyll / Mr. Hyde

Ingrid Bergman as Ivy Pearson

Lana Turner as Bea Emery

Donald Crisp as Sir Charles Emery

Ian Hunter as John Lanyon

Barton MacLane as Sam Higgins

Aubrey Smith as Bishop Manners

Peter Godfrey as Poole, Jekyll’s butler

Sara Allgood as Mrs. Higgins

Frederic Worlock as Dr. Heath

William Tannen as Intern Fenwick

Frances Robinson as Marcia

Denis Green as Freddie

Credits:
Directed by Victor Fleming
Produced by Victor Saville
Written by John Lee Mahin, Percy Heath, Samuel Hoffenstein, based on Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde (1886) by Robert Louis Stevenson
Music by Franz Waxman
Cinematography Joseph Ruttenberg
Edited by Harold F. Kress

Production company: Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer

Distributed by Loew’s, Inc.

Release date: August 12, 1941

Running time: 127 minutes
Budget $1,140,000
Box office $1,279,000 (domestic)
$1,072,000 (foreign)