A few words about…™ – Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde (1931) — in Blu-ray

I’ve been viewing Kino’s recent listings of new releases, and even those I adore those guys, I cringe each and every time they use the work “restored,” when there is absolutely not restoration occurring.

Marketing. I know. I understand.

But it denigrates real / true / actual restoration projects.

And not to rain on Kino’s parade, or Criterion’s for who also every new master is a restoration, but at the moment, Reuben Mamoulian’s 1931 Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde is my true / accurate / actual / real restoration project of 2022.

And it may just remain there.

For those unaware, Mr. Mamoulian was the Abel Gance of the early sound era. His films led the pack with the newest and best technology synchronized with extraordinary story telling.

And so it is with Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, which FINALLY can be see as it was in 1931.

The general consensus regarding film history and horror has been that two films reigned supreme that year.

James Whale’s Frankenstein and Tod Browning’s Dracula.

Warner Archive has accessed the original severely cut nitrate negative and added the missing footage now derived from a dupe negative, itself derived from a 1931 lavender which no longer survives.

The changes to this film are unimaginable, and finally the cuts from original to dupe are so well handled that they’re all but transparent.

Grain structure, black levels, shadow detail and stability are all perfect.

Time for someone to take on the mythos of these three films, and give Dr. Jekyll it’s due.

The way that Mr. Mamoulian uses effects, transitions, and sound are awe inspiring.

Add the cinematography of Karl Struss, and we’re in nirvana.

For those who already own the 1941 Spencer Tracy version, you’re in for a treat. And for the record, Robert Louis Stevenson, who wrote the original novel was known to prefer the Mamoulian.

My advice.

Grab a copy and add it to your library. But don’t just put it on a shelf. Watch it!

And please make note of the proper (very early sound) 1.19 aspect ratio.

Without a doubt one of the most important releases of 2022.

As an aside, Mr. March won two reasonably important awards for his work in film. One for The Best Years of Our Lives, and the other…

Image – 5

Audio – 5

Pass / Fail – Pass

Plays nicely with projectors – Yes

Upgrade from DVD – Seriously?

Very Highly Recommended

RAH

Robert has been known in the film industry for his unmatched skill and passion in film preservation. Growing up around photography, his first home theater experience began at age ten with 16mm. Years later he was running 35 and 70mm at home.

His restoration projects have breathed new life into classic films like Lawrence of Arabia, Vertigo, My Fair Lady, Spartacus, and The Godfather series. Beyond his restoration work, he has also shared his expertise through publications, contributing to the academic discourse on film restoration. The Academy Film Archive houses the Robert A. Harris Collection, a testament to his significant contributions to film preservation.

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BobO'Link

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Yes, this film *belongs* in the stratosphere of horror with 1931's Frankenstein and Dracula. I've commented in the Warner Archives thread that I first saw this production when I purchased a 2 film DVD which has both the 1931 and 1941 versions - and had purchased that disc solely for the 1941 thinking "Oh... an older version is included... OK... I'll watch it." only to discover I liked that earlier version *much* better. I'm thrilled to have this one coming from WA and can't wait for it to arrive!
 

marcco00

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as a kid, i moved from reading the original grimm fairy tales to watching these early horror films......and they still hold a revered place in my psyche. even my cousins who i grew up with got excited when i told them this release was coming up, we are still into these films!
 

JoeDoakes

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There are plenty of contemporary references to this film, including in cartoons. I think the problem for the public consciousness were the precode aspects of it, and the decision by MGM to remake it and shelter the March version. I think this version is far superior
 

jayembee

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Mr. Harris's wicked wit is showing again :biggrin: Stevenson died in 1894!
Maybe. Or maybe there is some confusion by others on the matter.

Per the AFI Catalog: "According to NYT, Robert Louis Stevenson, the nephew of the author, appeared in the film as an extra, reportedly because he could speak with a cockney accent."
 

Robert Harris

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Well, we have differing views on the correct aspect ratio from two experienced and knowledgable authorities. Earlier, I read this post by Jack Theakston.
We will agree to disagree. Paper often misrepresents reality, especially in a fast-changing situation.

From a purely logistical perspective, if Dr. J. was correctly 1.33, it would be s-o-d, akin to the studio’s earlier Marx Bros. (“The Boys”) productions.

Even if the OCN was originally exposed for s-o-d, and the un-matted image is 1.33 (silent aperture), the film was not released in that manner. I’m at a loss to figure out where the track might have gone, as these were pre-digital days.

If an optical track was printed to the film, it would have been just to the right of the perfs on the left side of the image. Since apertures were still exposing the vertical area of the silent frame (pre-Academy), 1.19 would be the only alternative.

The film was released very late (Christmas) of 1931, and generally opened in January of 1932, at which time s-o-f had taken over s-o-d.

Universal’s Dracula, which was essentially a late 1930 production, was released as both a silent version, for those theaters still not set for sound, as well ass the sound version. A year later this was no longer a viable situation. Things changed Very rapidly.

I’m in agreement with Warner Archive, that 1.19 / 1.20 is the correct aspect ratio for this particular film.
 

Stephen_J_H

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I've been viewing Kino's recent listings of new releases, and even those I adore those guys, I cringe each and every time they use the work "restored," when there is absolutely not restoration occurring.

Marketing. I know. I understand.

But it denigrates real / true / actual restoration projects.

And not to rain on Kino's parade, or Criterion's for who also every new master is a restoration, but at the moment, Reuben Mamoulian's 1931 Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde is my true / accurate / actual / real restoration project of 2022.

And it may just remain there.

For those unaware, Mr. Mamoulian was the Abel Gance of the early sound era. His films led the pack with the newest and best technology synchronized with extraordinary story telling.

And so it is with Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, which FINALLY can be see as it was in 1931.

The general consensus regarding film history and horror has been that two films reigned supreme that year.

James Whale's Frankenstein and Tod Browning's Dracula.

Warner Archive has accessed the original severely cut nitrate negative and added the missing footage now derived from a dupe negative, itself derived from a 1931 lavender which no longer survives.

The changes to this film are unimaginable, and finally the cuts from original to dupe are so well handled that they're all but transparent.

Grain structure, black levels, shadow detail and stability are all perfect.

Time for someone to take on the mythos of these three films, and give Dr. Jekyll it's due.

The way that Mr. Mamoulian uses effects, transitions, and sound are awe inspiring.

Add the cinematography of Karl Struss, and we're in nirvana.

For those who already own the 1941 Spencer Tracy version, you're in for a treat. And for the record, Robert Louis Stevenson, who wrote the original novel was known to prefer the Mamoulian.

My advice.

Grab a copy and add it to your library. But don't just put it on a shelf. Watch it!

And please make note of the proper (very early sound) 1.19 aspect ratio.

Without a doubt one of the most important releases of 2022.

As an aside, Mr. March won two reasonably important awards for his work in film. One for The Best Years of Our Lives, and the other...

Image - 5

Audio – 5

Pass / Fail – Pass

Plays nicely with projectors - Yes

Upgrade from DVD - Seriously?

Very Highly Recommended

RAH
Another insightful review. My wallet is crying.
 
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