Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde
Film and television productions based on the novella by Robert Louis Stevenson:
Director John S. Roberston; writer Clara Beranger, Thomas Russell Sullivan; featuring John Barrymore, Brandon Hurst
Director Rouben Mamoulian; writer Samuel Hoffenstein, Percy Heath; featuring Fredric March, Miriam Hopkins, Rose Hobart
Director Victor Fleming; writer John Lee Mahin; featuring Spencer Tracy, Ingrid Bergman, Lana Turner
Also called House of Fright
Director Terence Fisher; writer Wolf Mankowitz; featuring Paul Massie, Dawn Addams, Christopher Lee
Director Stephen Frears; writer Christopher Hampton; featuring Julia Roberts, John Malkovich, Michael Gambon, Glenn Close
Director Don Roy King; writer Leslie Bricusse, Steve Cuden; featuring David Hasselhoff
Krista Bridges is a lawyer trying to save Jekyll (Dougray Scott) from prosecution in modern retelling.
The thoroughly modern monster
It sounds like a good idea: update the Jekyll/Hyde story with modern science in a contemporary setting. One can imagine sci-fi twists on the horror story and more realistic special effects unavailable to older filmmakers.
But 2008's made-for-TV edition of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde is a dud.
Like most movie versions of the classic tale, it follows the good doctor and his evil twin from the beginning, but now he's an outright serial killer. No villainous charisma, no exploration of man's animal nature—just another midnight strangler picking on single women in Boston.
Dougray Scott, an accomplished TV actor in his forties, does his best with it. His transformation into Hyde is achieved with a minimum of makeup.
Perhaps oddly, I kept thinking what a great James Bond the actor might have made—a handsome hero with a dark heart, not to mention a Sean Connery accent. (Yes, he's Scottish).
Partway through this film though, the plot takes a clichéd turn and becomes an episode of Law and Order.
Jekyll is caught by police and prosecuted, and his lawyer (Krista Bridges) tries a novel defence to get him off. You see, Jekyll and Hyde are different people in the same body and now Hyde has been expunged, leaving only the innocent Jekyll.
And then there's the supposedly big twist at the very end, that you can probably guess even if you haven't seen all the hints leading up to it.
The film is populated by other characters updated from the novel, such as a male friend (Tom Skerritt) and Jekyll's caretaker (Danette Mackay), who always seem about to play significant roles in the drama but never do. One suspects their crucial scenes—showing the these characters exist at all—were edited out of the film.
It's TV all right. As cheap and predictable and shallow as anything else on the tube. We await a compelling, contemporary retelling of the timeless tale.