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Glossy MGM remake of the classic story has some merits that other versions don't possess. 3.5 Stars

Victor Fleming’s Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde isn’t a patch on Rouben Mamoulian’s faster-paced and more exciting 1931 version, but it has its own merits with excellent performances from Spencer Tracy and Ingrid Bergman and a glossy MGM production that’s always a pleasure to watch.

Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde (1941)
Released: 01 Sep 1941
Rated: Passed
Runtime: 113 min
Director: Victor Fleming
Genre: Drama, Horror, Sci-Fi
Cast: Spencer Tracy, Ingrid Bergman, Lana Turner
Writer(s): John Lee Mahin, Robert Louis Stevenson, Percy Heath
Plot: Dr. Jekyll allows his dark side to run wild when he drinks a potion that turns him into the evil Mr. Hyde.
IMDB rating: 6.8
MetaScore: N/A

Disc Information
Studio: MGM
Distributed By: Warner Archive
Video Resolution: 1080P/AVC
Aspect Ratio: 1.37:1
Audio: English 2.0 DTS-HDMA
Subtitles: English SDH
Rating: G
Run Time: 1 Hr. 53 Min.
Package Includes: Blu-ray
Case Type: keep case
Disc Type: BD50 (dual layer)
Region: All
Release Date: 05/17/2022
MSRP: $21.99

The Production: 3.5/5

MGM’s 1941 remake of the classic 1931 thriller Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde offers less horror on display and more psychological examination on the nature of evil. With Spencer Tracy playing the dual-natured protagonist and antagonist and the star duo of Ingrid Bergman and Lana Turner cast against type as the two primary women in the lives of Jekyll and Hyde, Victor Fleming’s production emphasizes MGM gloss and polish but leaves the viewer a little unsatisfied if memories of previous versions (particularly Rouben Mamoulian’s 1931 classic) are crisp in one’s recollection.

Dr. Harry Jekyll (Spencer Tracy) believes good and evil exist in everyone and has been conducting experiments on animals to control their opposite natures with a particular thesis in mind, much to the chagrin of Sir Charles Emery (Donald Crisp) whose daughter Bea (Lana Turner) is engaged to Harry. He inevitably creates a potion that will allow his evil side, Mr. Hyde, to come to the forefront, but he believes he can control Hyde’s emergence with the proper doses of his formula. Hyde has taken a particular fancy to a loose-living barmaid Ivy Petersen (Ingrid Bergman) and sets her up in an apartment where she’s a virtual prisoner and a sex slave who’s often beaten. Eventually Jekyll realizes for Ivy’s safety and for his life with Bea to proceed that his experiment must end and takes measures to put his evil ways behind him, but he’s shocked to discover that Hyde can emerge at will despite Jekyll’s best efforts, and it now becomes a battle to see which side of his conflicting nature will win out.

Director Victor Fleming’s screenwriter of choice John Lee Mahin has based his script not on Robert Louis Stevenson’s original novella but on the screenplay for the 1931 film version written by Samuel Hoffenstein and Percy Heath (which was based on the stage version of the story which first brought into the tale the good and bad girl playthings for the title characters). Mahin has expanded on the Ivy Petersen character to give star Ingrid Bergman more dramatic opportunities in this version, but it’s resulted in a movie that drags somewhat in the center and isn’t as racy as the earlier version due to its being a pre-Code film and this one falling directly under the ham-fisted pronouncements of the Hays Code. We hear of Hyde’s sadistic treatment of Ivy, but we see precious little of it, and, of course, a couple of beating deaths are both handled out of the sight of the camera. The transformations from Jekyll to Hyde have been somewhat modified from before also due to the less extensive make-up and less exaggerated appliances that have been fitted to Spencer Tracy to make his wild-eyed Hyde different to his doe-eyed Jekyll (Fredric March’s ferocious Hyde was a much more monstrous creation), but Victor Fleming does navigate the segues from one personality to the other nicely, and he also shoots some rather disturbing visions of Hyde’s evil to clarify for viewers the discomforts to come. He also stages and shoots a Hyde-directed uproar at a music hall with verve and abandon.

Spencer Tracy certainly delineates the split personalities of Jekyll and Hyde marvelously, and the film’s one great shock moment when he’s revealed as Hyde when we think he’s Jekyll is played with creepy perfection. Ingrid Bergman is a gifted actress who has no trouble sharing the screen with a presence as commanding as Spencer Tracy, but her attempts at Cockney in the early going are lamentable, and she wisely just forgets about it as the film progresses (after all, neither Tracy nor Turner are attempting any kind of British accent). Lana Turner is less successful as the cultured, upper crust Beatrix Emery, but Donald Crisp is a forceful father as Sir Charles Emery. Other notable performances in the film are Ian Hunter as Harry’s best friend Dr. John Lanyon, Barton MacLane as the madly wicked Sam Higgins who sets Harry’s mind to pondering the nature of good and evil, C. Aubrey Smith as the benevolent Bishop, and Peter Godfrey as Harry’s loving and faithful servant Poole.

Video: 5/5

3D Rating: NA

The film’s theatrical aspect ratio of 1.371 is faithfully executed in this 1080p transfer using the AVC codec. Image quality is as pristine as we have come to expect from Warner Archive, the crispness and detail of the Oscar-nominated photography great for examining the intricacies of the Hyde make-up (and making it easier to see Spencer Tracy’s stunt double taking over when action becomes fast and furious). Grayscale is exceptional with particularly striking black levels. The movie has been divided into 44 chapters.

Audio: 5/5

The DTS-HD Master Audio 2.0 mono sound mix accurately reproduces the sound design of the period. Dialogue has been professionally recorded and has been mixed with Franz Waxman’s Oscar-nominated background score and the various sound effects with precision. There are no problems with age-related hiss, crackle, pops, or flutter.

Special Features: 1/5

Theatrical Trailer (3:43, HD)

Overall: 3.5/5

Victor Fleming’s Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde isn’t a patch on Rouben Mamoulian’s faster-paced and more exciting 1931 version, but it has its own merits with excellent performances from Spencer Tracy and Ingrid Bergman and a glossy MGM production that’s always a pleasure to watch. Warner Archive’s new Blu-ray transfer offers exemplary picture and sound quality which fans of the stars, director, and story will likely want to sample.

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bujaki

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This is the version released in the States. Scenes edited out before release has never been shown to movie audiences in America.
As Anita in West Side Story sang: Puerto Rico is in America.;) The unedited version played in Puerto Rico where I did see it in my home town theater. However, I will admit that we always received the
international--not the domestic USA--version.
 

Robert Crawford

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As Anita in West Side Story sang: Puerto Rico is in America.;) The unedited version played in Puerto Rico where I did see it in my home town theater. However, I will admit that we always received the
international--not the domestic USA--version.
The international version wasn't released in the Continental United States!
 

bujaki

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The international version wasn't released in the Continental United States!
Alas, that was always the loss of the Continental USA, fettered as they were by the Production Code. The colony, for whatever reason, always received the international releases.
 

Arthur Powell

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This is the version released in the States. Scenes edited out before release has never been shown to movie audiences in America.
I've been perusing some period trade journals (thanks to the Media History Digital Library), and based upon what I've been reading, audiences who saw the film in its initial few weeks of release may have seen a longer version. Harrison's Reports reviewed the film at 127 minutes, and some exhibitors reported the same length when giving their feedback for the "What the Picture Did for Me" section of Motion Picture Herald. However, other exhibitors reported running times of 123 minutes and 110 minutes. My guess is that the film was edited during its first few weeks of release after feedback from exhibitors and some local censor boards. Whether all of the excised footage exists to allow for a restoration of the 127 min. cut is another matter entirely. I do plan on picking up this blu-ray at some point in the future - Deep Discount's Olive bogo sale wiped out my media budget for the next few months!
 

richardburton84

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This is the version released in the States. Scenes edited out before release has never been shown to movie audiences in America.

I have to wonder if any English audio even survives for those additional scenes (another potential reason why they were not restored). While this wouldn’t affect the longer transformation montages, other scenes such as the longer version of the aftermath of Jekyll’s first transformation into Hyde and a scene near the end where Hyde taunts Jekyll as a reflection in a mirror (a possible inspiration for the “Confrontation” number in the Leslie Bricusse musical of the story, which my sister is a huge fan of) are very dialogue-driven.
 

Matt Hough

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The version that I reviewed is the only version I've ever seen of the film. Thus, I can't comment on any other versions.
 

Robert Crawford

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The version that I reviewed is the only version I've ever seen of the film. Thus, I can't comment on any other versions.
I think that's true for most of us that only lived in the Continental US. I'm not sure how many outside the States that are still living today have seen that longer version.
 

Gerani53

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I imagine this is not scanned from the original neg, since that would have been mentioned by this time.
 

Robert Crawford

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I imagine this is not scanned from the original neg, since that would have been mentioned by this time.
George Feltenstein in a recent podcast stated the Blu-ray was derived from a 4K scan using the best preservation elements that Warner has in their possession which tells me that it wasn't the OCN as he would've mentioned it.
 

Gerani53

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George Feltenstein in a recent podcast stated the Blu-ray was derived from a 4K scan using the best preservation elements that Warner has in their possession which tells me that it wasn't the OCN as he would've mentioned it.
That's what I figured. Thanks, Robert...
 

Kanny Daye

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On Nitrateville, two people have reported that they have seen the longer version both on American TV

"Oddly, this 'longer version' was shown on American television back in 1956... I saw it several times as a child and remembered the now-missing sequences. Evidently, it was re-edited and shortened."

and on British TV

"It played on television in the UK many moons ago. A friend sent me a VHS copy which is somewhere stashed away in my closet of old tapes. The extra scenes definitely add to the film but are not likely to change anyone's mind about it. While the movie has many detractors, I've always liked it, perhaps in part because it was often on the late show in my younger days and was the first film version I saw of Stevenson's story."
 

Robert Crawford

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On Nitrateville, two people have reported that they have seen the longer version both on American TV

"Oddly, this 'longer version' was shown on American television back in 1956... I saw it several times as a child and remembered the now-missing sequences. Evidently, it was re-edited and shortened."

and on British TV

"It played on television in the UK many moons ago. A friend sent me a VHS copy which is somewhere stashed away in my closet of old tapes. The extra scenes definitely add to the film but are not likely to change anyone's mind about it. While the movie has many detractors, I've always liked it, perhaps in part because it was often on the late show in my younger days and was the first film version I saw of Stevenson's story."
Well, let’s just say I’m dubious about such claims.
 

RICK BOND

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I Got mine today from Amazon ! :D It looks Great. :) Now for the 1931 version.
IMG_20220517_123143929.jpg
IMG_20220517_124207877_BURST000_COVER_TOP.jpg
 

Kanny Daye

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I asked Leo the Lion to roar and Leo did and indeed somebody heard it. A nice gentleman sent me a very old BBC 2 tape recording derived from a transmission at an Halloween eve in the 80s. Unfortunately this is one of the worst recordings I've ever seen: it has been converted from PAL to NTSC and has ugly audio distortion due to severe VHS HiFi tracking problems. So it's really only helpful for reference.


43629020bn.png


43629021ur.png


43629022sa.png


43629023ob.png



Nevertheless it allows to give some definite insights now: the BBC recording should be 116'33 at 25 fps which would be 10895 feet or 3321 metres. This is 121'23 in 24 fps. The BBC version is of course completely in English (language and inserts) but otherwise carries the footage present in the Austrian print shown on German TV and additionally features the four scenes which are present in the Warner PAL master but missing from the German TV version https://www.movie-censorship.com/report.php?ID=897474

08:40
The German Version lacks Jekyll throwing the bottle into the fireplace.
+5 sec

26:04
Something is missing in the German Version here. After Jekyll left Ivy's room, she can instantly be seen from the right side. The DVD contains some more things inbetween, first she can be seen from the left side but turns to the right. Cut to Jekyll going away from the door and walking though the corridor. Here, the DVD shows the view from the right.
+7 sec

91:15
Another letter was translated and the key used is not the same as in the original. The German Version is shorter due to the changed transitions.
+2 sec

107:01 - 107:34
The German Version is missing some parts during the ending. The butler is kneeling next to Jekyll's corpse and starts to pray: "The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want. He maketh me to lie down in green pastures. He leadeth me beside the still waters. He restoreth my soul. He leadeth me in the path of righteousness, for his name's sake. Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death..." Fade to black.
+14 sec



So this old BBC 2 transmission seems to represent the most complete version of this film which has surfaced so far although it's still not completely uncut. I guess its source may be the Umatic version the BFI lists on its page without specifying a precise running time http://collections-search.bfi.org.uk/web/Details/ChoiceFilmWorks/150018290


The BFI has various sources of the film in its collection and I just named the longest one here, which was the 11400 feet 1947 nitrate dupe negative. Most probably the Umatic is sourced from one of the Acetate prints in the collection which measure 10813 to 10845 feet.


So I'm afraid, the very full 11400 feet / 127 mins version from the 1947 BFI nitrate dupe negative never has been scanned or digitized ever so far and this BFI dupe negative may be the only full uncut version around today.


This article indicates, that Warner is aware about the cuts in its master materials / the current video version since at least 2011 https://nypost.com/2011/05/13/dvd-e...medium=site buttons&utm_campaign=site buttons


So it's truly frustrating that Warners didn't cooperate with the BFI for this Blu-Ray release and didn't even check the British Umatic video master. As the BD is out now, I'm afraid the chances for a proper restauration are gone by at least for the next years. So it defintely would have been better, not to release the film on Blu-Ray at all for the moment.


I'm ready for now, this is all information I can contribute to these issues. Let's hope somebody at Warners who has the power to bring changes about will derive the right actions from this at some time.
 

Astairefan

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I asked Leo the Lion to roar and Leo did and indeed somebody heard it. A nice gentleman sent me a very old BBC 2 tape recording derived from a transmission at an Halloween eve in the 80s. Unfortunately this is one of the worst recordings I've ever seen: it has been converted from PAL to NTSC and has ugly audio distortion due to severe VHS HiFi tracking problems. So it's really only helpful for reference.


43629020bn.png


43629021ur.png


43629022sa.png


43629023ob.png



Nevertheless it allows to give some definite insights now: the BBC recording should be 116'33 at 25 fps which would be 10895 feet or 3321 metres. This is 121'23 in 24 fps. The BBC version is of course completely in English (language and inserts) but otherwise carries the footage present in the Austrian print shown on German TV and additionally features the four scenes which are present in the Warner PAL master but missing from the German TV version https://www.movie-censorship.com/report.php?ID=897474

08:40
The German Version lacks Jekyll throwing the bottle into the fireplace.
+5 sec

26:04
Something is missing in the German Version here. After Jekyll left Ivy's room, she can instantly be seen from the right side. The DVD contains some more things inbetween, first she can be seen from the left side but turns to the right. Cut to Jekyll going away from the door and walking though the corridor. Here, the DVD shows the view from the right.
+7 sec

91:15
Another letter was translated and the key used is not the same as in the original. The German Version is shorter due to the changed transitions.
+2 sec

107:01 - 107:34
The German Version is missing some parts during the ending. The butler is kneeling next to Jekyll's corpse and starts to pray: "The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want. He maketh me to lie down in green pastures. He leadeth me beside the still waters. He restoreth my soul. He leadeth me in the path of righteousness, for his name's sake. Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death..." Fade to black.
+14 sec



So this old BBC 2 transmission seems to represent the most complete version of this film which has surfaced so far although it's still not completely uncut. I guess its source may be the Umatic version the BFI lists on its page without specifying a precise running time http://collections-search.bfi.org.uk/web/Details/ChoiceFilmWorks/150018290


The BFI has various sources of the film in its collection and I just named the longest one here, which was the 11400 feet 1947 nitrate dupe negative. Most probably the Umatic is sourced from one of the Acetate prints in the collection which measure 10813 to 10845 feet.


So I'm afraid, the very full 11400 feet / 127 mins version from the 1947 BFI nitrate dupe negative never has been scanned or digitized ever so far and this BFI dupe negative may be the only full uncut version around today.


This article indicates, that Warner is aware about the cuts in its master materials / the current video version since at least 2011 https://nypost.com/2011/05/13/dvd-extra-ambersons-on-the-way-maybe-the-uncensored-41-jekyll-too/?utm_source=twitter_sitebuttons&utm_medium=site buttons&utm_campaign=site buttons


So it's truly frustrating that Warners didn't cooperate with the BFI for this Blu-Ray release and didn't even check the British Umatic video master. As the BD is out now, I'm afraid the chances for a proper restauration are gone by at least for the next years. So it defintely would have been better, not to release the film on Blu-Ray at all for the moment.


I'm ready for now, this is all information I can contribute to these issues. Let's hope somebody at Warners who has the power to bring changes about will derive the right actions from this at some time.
Question: you keep insisting that Warner is at fault here. While that may be true, what about BFI themselves? So far, it hasn't seemed like Warner and BFI have much of a good relationship, as this now marks three WAC releases that don't quite seem to be what we think they should be, following in the paths of Horror Of Dracula (which used a transfer from the BFI, and is considered one of the worst WAC transfers on Blu-ray) and Gaslight (which included the 1940 film as an extra in standard definition only, even though BFI had already restored and released that film on Blu-ray themselves by that time). Do we know if the cost to access and/or restore titles with elements held by the BFI is reasonable, or is it beyond what most labels/studios are willing to pay (especially in the midst of a pandemic, where the costs of many things have gone up)?
 

smithbrad

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Might it not just simply be that what Warner Archive just released is what they consider to be the definitive version of the film for the US market, if not overall? Regardless of what was released or shown elsewhere at various times. Regardless of what BFI has collected from various sources. I realize that may not be the result to satisfy everyone, but it is their product to release as they see fit.