Saturday, September 11, 2010

The Two Faces of Dr. Jekyll (1960)

Director: Terence Fisher

Starring: Paul Massie, Dawn Addams, Christopher Lee

More info: IMDB

Tagline: Sometimes, Terror Has A Handsome Face.

Plot: Dr. Henry Jekyll is a dull, bookish scientist who spends more time with his lab animals testing theories of alternate personalities than with his beautiful, young wife. Kitty Jekyll has given up trying to find any passion in her distant, preoccupied husband and is involved in an affair with one of Jekyll's old 'friends,' Paul Allen, a weak slacker and wastrel who relies on Jekyll to pay his numerous gambling debts. After experimenting on himself, the bearded, tweedy Jekyll transforms himself into the young, dynamic, and self-confidant Edward Hyde. In his new character he befriends Allen, who has no idea of that this clean-cut, handsome playboy prone to outbursts of violence is really Jekyll. As Hyde, he encourages Allen to introduce him to the dark underbelly of London's night life including opium dens and sex clubs, where he begins an affair with the sensual courtesan Maria, an exotic dancer and snake charmer. When he tries to seduce Allen's mistress, in reality his own wife, he is frustrated to find she prefers her decadent lover to him.

My rating: 8/10

Will I watch it again? Yes!

#12 on Hammer Horror (1957-1976)

Dr. Jekyll...

and Mr. Hyde!

Man, oh, man! Hammer keeps blowing me away! Here's the second one in a row that's nothing short of outstanding! I'm so glad I started this project. I'm seeing a lot of really good movies! This re-telling of the Robert Lewis Stevenson classic puts the emphasis on the inner evil, turning Jekyll into an attractive monster, not the physical beast filmed before. When he turns into Hyde it's more akin to Jerry Lewis's Buddy Love character from THE NUTTY PROFESSOR that came later but without the laughs. Here, Hyde is aggressive and violent with a smile.

While Massie did a pretty good job in the dual lead, I couldn't help but feel there must have been someone out there that would have done this role more favorably. Lee, on the other hand, was absolutely delightful. He's laughing and charming and it's refreshing to see him in a more carefree, 'happy' role. Even though he's a scoundrel in this one, he's a very likable one.

A very young Oliver Reed!

The scene where Hyde is introduced to the snake charmer is fantastic! Now THAT'S talent! Btw, nice job on sneaking in some crotch shots, Mr. Fisher.

I was shocked to hear the word, "bitch", used; something you wouldn't expect in a mainstream movie from 1960. And I really dug what they did with exploring the inner psyche although they could have done more, but to do so would have created a different film. After all, this is a horror movie designed to frighten you. Not that you'll be frightened now (or in 1960 I suspect) but it is a very good movie with horror elements. I would have preferred the ending to have stopped about 3 minutes before it did but I understand the need to do what they did. I'm looking forward to the next film, THE CURSE OF THE WEREWOLF (1961) as I haven't seen it in a few years and I remember thoroughly enjoying it as well as a young Oliver Reed's first lead role.

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