Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde (1941)

127 mins | Drama | September 1941

Director:

Victor Fleming

Writer:

John Lee Mahin

Producer:

Victor Saville

Cinematographer:

Joseph Ruttenberg

Editor:

Harold F. Kress

Production Designer:

Cedric Gibbons

Production Company:

Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Corp.
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HISTORY

There are some key differences between Robert Louis Stevenson's novel and this film. In the novella, the story of "Jekyll" and "Hyde" is revealed indirectly by two characters discussing the unusual details of the will of the late Dr. Jeykll. The novella also reveals that Jekyll had been leading a secret life of vice prior to developing his serum. In addition, the characters of "Ivy Peterson" and "Beatrix Emery" do not exist in the novella. Although not credited onscreen, Samuel Hoffenstein, who wrote the screenplay for the 1932 Paramount adaptation of the Stevenson novella, was credited by the SAB as a contributing writer for the M-G-M production.
       According to news items in HR , actresses Patricia Morison and Susan Hayward were tested for roles in the film, and Ingrid Bergman was borrowed from David O. Selznick's company for her role. Although Victor Saville is listed in news items and production charts as the film's producer, he was not given screen credit or credited in reviews. As Saville would normally have been credited onscreen, it is possible that his name was not used in connection with the released film because of a controversy surrounding his rumored propagandizing on behalf of Great Britain. According to a LAEx news item on 10 Sep 1941, Senator Gerald P. Nye was urging that Saville be summoned to testify before a Senate committee investigating "British agents operating in the motion picture industry." In the article, Nye was quoted as saying "Persistent is the report within the industry that the British Ministry of Information arranged his visa to the end that he might work in Hollywood and represent the ... More Less

There are some key differences between Robert Louis Stevenson's novel and this film. In the novella, the story of "Jekyll" and "Hyde" is revealed indirectly by two characters discussing the unusual details of the will of the late Dr. Jeykll. The novella also reveals that Jekyll had been leading a secret life of vice prior to developing his serum. In addition, the characters of "Ivy Peterson" and "Beatrix Emery" do not exist in the novella. Although not credited onscreen, Samuel Hoffenstein, who wrote the screenplay for the 1932 Paramount adaptation of the Stevenson novella, was credited by the SAB as a contributing writer for the M-G-M production.
       According to news items in HR , actresses Patricia Morison and Susan Hayward were tested for roles in the film, and Ingrid Bergman was borrowed from David O. Selznick's company for her role. Although Victor Saville is listed in news items and production charts as the film's producer, he was not given screen credit or credited in reviews. As Saville would normally have been credited onscreen, it is possible that his name was not used in connection with the released film because of a controversy surrounding his rumored propagandizing on behalf of Great Britain. According to a LAEx news item on 10 Sep 1941, Senator Gerald P. Nye was urging that Saville be summoned to testify before a Senate committee investigating "British agents operating in the motion picture industry." In the article, Nye was quoted as saying "Persistent is the report within the industry that the British Ministry of Information arranged his visa to the end that he might work in Hollywood and represent the interest of the British ministry." Following America's entry into the war in early Dec 1941, the controversy died down and it has not been determined whether Saville actually testified before the Senate.
       According to information in the file on the film in the MPAA/PCA Collection at the AMPAS Library, when the first script was submitted to the Hays Office on 11 Nov 1940, M-G-M encountered a few problems with both dialogue and story. The line assigned "Hyde," when speaking to "Ivy," "I'm hurting you because I like to hurt you," was deemed unacceptable because of its "definite suggestion of sadism," and it was indicated to M-G-M that there should be no suggestion of a rape of Ivy by Hyde. The script was approved, following some minor changes, on 5 Feb 1941.
       After completion of the film, the Hays Office raised strong objections to portions of Peter Ballbusch's two montage sequences, which take place just after Jekyll turns into Hyde. In the first montage, the office requested the removal of several minor shots, plus the shot in which "Tracy is shown lashing the two girls" and a mention of the 23rd Psalm. In the second montage, the studio was told to delete "All scenes having to do with the swan and the girl, and the stallion and the girl." The first montage was edited so that in the released film there are no shots of either "Ivy" or "Bea" receiving lashes, but there are medium close-up shots of "Hyde" using a whip. There were no words from the 23rd Psalm in the montage, but "Poole" recites the first lines, "The Lord is my shepherd..." at the end of the film. In the second montage, all of the required eliminations were made. No serious censorship problems arose after the film's initial release, but according to a DV article on 17 Feb 1955, the picture was banned in Memphis by "film censor czar Lloyd T. Binford" because "Miss Bergman is an immoral woman," a reference to a scandal that surrounded Bergman's relationship with Italian director Roberto Rossellini. (For additional information on their relationship please see the entry below for Stromboli ). Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde earned three Academy Award nominations: Black & White Cinematography (Joseph Ruttenberg); Film Editing (Harold F. Kreiss); and Musical Score (Franz Waxman).
       There have been many stage and film adaptations of Stevenson's novel. These include a stage play starring Richard Mansfield (Boston, 9 May 1887), which developed Stevenson's story along the lines that have generally been followed in subsequent stage, screen and televised adaptations; a 1920 Paramount film directed by John Stewart Robertson, starring John Barrymore and Miriam Hopkins (see AFI Catalog of Feature Films, 1911-20 ; F1.1063); the 1920 German film Der Januskopf , directed by F. W. Murnau and starring Conrad Veidt; the 1932 Paramount production of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde , directed by Rouben Mamoulian and starring Fredric March and Miriam Hopkins (see AFI Catalog of Feature Films, 1931-40 ; F3.1076); the 1959 French film Le Testament du Docteur Cordelier , directed by Jean Renoise and starring Jean-Louis Barrault; the 1963 Paramount release The Nutty Professor , directed by and starring Jerry Lewis (see AFI Catalog of Feature Films, 1961-70 ; F6.3501), the 1980 British-made Dr. Heckyl and Mr. Hype , directed by Charles B. Griffith and starring Oliver Reed; and the 1996 Paramount film The Nutty Professor , directed by Tom Shadyac and starring Eddie Murphy. In early 1998, a new motion picture adaptation of the novel was announced by New Regency Films, to be written by playwright David Mamet and star Al Pacino, but that film was not made. More Less

SOURCE CITATIONS
SOURCE
DATE
PAGE
Box Office
26 Jul 1941.
---
Daily Variety
22 Jul 1941.
---
Daily Variety
1 Feb 1955.
---
Daily Variety
12 Feb 1998.
---
Film Daily
22 Jul 41
p. 7.
Hollywood Reporter
3 Dec 1940.
---
Hollywood Reporter
19 Dec 40
p. 1, 3
Hollywood Reporter
8 Jan 41
p. 4.
Hollywood Reporter
9 Jan 41
p. 3.
Hollywood Reporter
15 Jan 41
p. 6.
Hollywood Reporter
22 Jan 41
p. 8.
Hollywood Reporter
7 Feb 41
p. 12.
Hollywood Reporter
4 Apr 41
p. 10.
Hollywood Reporter
16 Jun 41
p. 2.
Hollywood Reporter
22 Jul 41
p. 3.
Los Angeles Examiner
10 Sep 1941.
---
Motion Picture Daily
22 Jul 1941.
---
Motion Picture Herald
26 Jul 1941.
---
Motion Picture Herald Product Digest
17 May 41
p. 134.
Motion Picture Herald Product Digest
6 Sep 41
p. 248.
New York Times
13 Aug 41
p. 13.
The Exhibitor
3 Sep 1941.
---
Variety
23 Jul 41
p. 8.
CAST
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
Frederic Worlock
Mel Forrester
+
PRODUCTION CREDITS
NAME
PARENT COMPANY
PRODUCTION TEXT
Victor Fleming's Production
DISTRIBUTION COMPANY
NAME
CREDITED AS
CREDIT
DIRECTORS
Asst dir
PRODUCER
WRITERS
Contr wrt
PHOTOGRAPHY
Dir of photog
ART DIRECTORS
Art dir
FILM EDITOR
Film ed
SET DECORATOR
Set dec
COSTUMES
Gowns
Men's ward created by
MUSIC
Mus score
SOUND
Rec dir
VISUAL EFFECTS
DANCE
Dance dir
MAKEUP
Makeup created by
PRODUCTION MISC
Unit mgr
Scr clerk
SOURCES
LITERARY
Based on the novella The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde by Robert Louis Stevenson (London, 1886).
SONGS
"See Me Dance the Polka," music and lyrics by George Grossmith, additional lyrics by John Lee Mahin.
DETAILS
Release Date:
September 1941
Premiere Information:
New York opening: 12 August 1941
Production Date:
4 February--8 April 1941
Copyright Claimant:
Loew's Inc.
Copyright Date:
17 July 1941
Copyright Number:
LP10628
Physical Properties:
Sound
Western Electric Sound System
Black and White
Duration(in mins):
127
Length(in feet):
11,420
Length(in reels):
13
Country:
United States
PCA No:
7341
Passed by NBR:
Yes
SYNOPSIS

In London, in 1887, prominent physician Henry Jekyll incurs the ire of his older colleagues because of his experiments and views on the possibility of separating the good and evil aspects of man's nature. Harry is deeply in love with Beatrix Emery, the daughter of Sir Charles Emery, who likes Harry, but is concerned over his radical ideas and open display of affection for Bea. Harry throws himself into his work and has enough success experimenting with rabbits and guinea pigs to make him confident that the serum he has developed will work for humans. Hoping to try the serum out on Sam Higgins, a man who went mad after being in a gas works explosion, Harry rushes to the hospital but discovers that Higgins has just died. Harry then decides to take the serum himself and is briefly transformed, in both thought and countenance, into an evil alter ego. After taking an antidote to turn himself back to normal, Harry tells his butler, Poole, that the strange voice he heard was a "Mr. Hyde." Just then, Sir Charles, accompanied by Bea, comes for a visit and announces that he will be taking Bea to the Continent to give Harry time to consider his position. Despite his loneliness during Bea's absence, Harry refrains from further experimentation until he gets a letter from Bea explaining that their trip is being extended because of Sir Charles' health. After taking another dose of the serum, Harry again turns into Hyde and goes to a music hall, where he sees barmaid Ivy Peterson, an attractive, sensual young woman whom he had rescued from an attacker some weeks before. ... +


In London, in 1887, prominent physician Henry Jekyll incurs the ire of his older colleagues because of his experiments and views on the possibility of separating the good and evil aspects of man's nature. Harry is deeply in love with Beatrix Emery, the daughter of Sir Charles Emery, who likes Harry, but is concerned over his radical ideas and open display of affection for Bea. Harry throws himself into his work and has enough success experimenting with rabbits and guinea pigs to make him confident that the serum he has developed will work for humans. Hoping to try the serum out on Sam Higgins, a man who went mad after being in a gas works explosion, Harry rushes to the hospital but discovers that Higgins has just died. Harry then decides to take the serum himself and is briefly transformed, in both thought and countenance, into an evil alter ego. After taking an antidote to turn himself back to normal, Harry tells his butler, Poole, that the strange voice he heard was a "Mr. Hyde." Just then, Sir Charles, accompanied by Bea, comes for a visit and announces that he will be taking Bea to the Continent to give Harry time to consider his position. Despite his loneliness during Bea's absence, Harry refrains from further experimentation until he gets a letter from Bea explaining that their trip is being extended because of Sir Charles' health. After taking another dose of the serum, Harry again turns into Hyde and goes to a music hall, where he sees barmaid Ivy Peterson, an attractive, sensual young woman whom he had rescued from an attacker some weeks before. When summoned to Hyde's table, Ivy does not recognize him as Harry, but becomes frightened and screams, causing a brawl to erupt among the customers. Hyde later secretly asks the proprietor to fire Ivy and, despite her reluctance, insists on taking her home in a carriage, where he forces himself on her. Some time later, Bea is concerned that Harry has not written to her in weeks, but hides her worries from her father, who decides that she and Harry may marry, after all. Meanwhile, Ivy, who has been set up in a flat by Hyde, lives in constant fear of him. Her friend Marcia is shocked when she accidentally sees welts on Ivy's back, and when Hyde suddenly comes to the flat, he behaves particularly cruelly toward Ivy. Soon Harry learns that Bea has just returned and determines never to take the serum again. He then sends an anonymous gift of fifty pounds to Ivy and melts down the key to the street entrance of his laboratory, which "Hyde" has been using. That afternoon, Harry meets Bea at a museum and is overjoyed that Sir Charles now agrees to their imminent marriage. When Harry returns home, Ivy is waiting in his patient's room because Marcia and her boyfriend had recommended him. Ivy recognizes Harry as the man who was once kind to her, but momentarily has an uneasy feeling about him. When she shows him her scars and he realizes what Hyde has done to her, Harry is ashamed and soothingly promises her that she will never see Hyde again. That night, as Harry happily strolls across the park toward Bea's house, he suddenly turns into Hyde, without having taken the serum. He then goes to Ivy's flat and finds her celebrating her freedom from him. When he repeats words that she had spoken to Harry, she becomes hysterical with fright and screams, but he strangles her to death before the neighbors can summon the police. He then rushes to the outer door of the laboratory but realizes that the key was destroyed. Poole will not admit him through the front door, so, in desperation Hyde goes to Dr. John Lanyon, Harry's good friend. After demanding the medications that work as an antidote, Hyde transforms back into Harry, to John's shock and horror. Harry reveals everything to John, then goes to Bea to break their engagement. She refuses to accept that they cannot be married, and he leaves, then returns as Hyde. She faints, but her initial scream has roused Sir Charles, whom Hyde then beats to death with his walking stick. Now desperate, Hyde pushes past Poole at Harry's front door and goes to the laboratory to take more antidote. As Sir Charles's body is examined by the police, John sees Harry's cane and realizes what must have happened. He then takes the police to Harry's house where they break down the door of the laboratory just after Hyde has taken the antidote and turned back into Harry. Harry says that Hyde was there but left, but in his anxiety under John's accusations that he, indeed, is Sir Charles' murderer, Harry quickly transforms back into Hyde. While attempting to fight off the police and flee, he is mortally wounded, and as he dies, his demeanor changes back into Harry. +

Legend
Viewed by AFI
Partially Viewed
Offscreen Credit
Name Occurs Before Title
AFI Life Achievement Award

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The American Film Institute is grateful to Sir Paul Getty KBE and the Sir Paul Getty KBE Estate for their dedication to the art of the moving image and their support for the AFI Catalog of Feature Films and without whose support AFI would not have been able to achieve this historical landmark in this epic scholarly endeavor.