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Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde

Theatrical Poster
Directed by Rouben Mamoulian
Produced by Rouben Mamoulian
Written by Novel:
Robert Louis Stevenson
Samuel Hoffenstein
Percy Heath
Starring Fredric March
Miriam Hopkins
Rose Hobart
Music by Herman Hand
Cinematography Karl Struss
Editing by William Shea
Distributed by Paramount Pictures
Release date(s) December 31, 1931
Running time 98 minutes
Country United States
Language English
Budget $1,140,000

Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde (1931) is a horror film directed by Rouben Mamoulian[1] and starring Fredric March. The film is an adaptation of The Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde (1886), the Robert Louis Stevenson tale of a man who takes a potion which turns him from a mild-mannered man of science into a crude homicidal maniac.



The film tells of Dr. Jekyll (Fredric March), a kind doctor who experiments with drugs because he's certain that within each man lurks impulses for both good and evil.

Dr. Jekyll develops a drug to release the evil side in himself, becoming the hard drinking, woman-chasing Mr. Hyde. Jekyll quickly becomes addicted to the formula, and unable to control the violent and unstable Mr. Hyde.


The film, made prior to the full enforcement of the Production Code, is remembered today for its strong sexual content, embodied mostly in the character of the prostitute, Ivy Pearson, played by Miriam Hopkins. When the film was re-released in 1936, the Code required 8 minutes to be removed before the film could be distributed to theaters. This footage was restored for the VHS and DVD releases.[2]

Fredric March as Mr. Hyde.

The secret of the astonishing transformation scenes was not revealed for decades (Mamoulian himself revealed it in a volume of interviews with Hollywood directors published under the title The Celluloid Muse). A series of colored filters matching the make-up was used, enabling the make-up applied in contrasting colours, to be gradually exposed or made invisible. The change in color was not visible on the black-and-white film.

Perc Westmore's make-up for Hyde, simian and hairy with large canine teeth influenced greatly the popular image of Hyde in media and comic books; in part this reflected the novella's implication of Hyde as embodying repressed evil and hence being semi-evolved or simian in appearance. The characters of Muriel Carew and Ivy Pearson do not appear in Stevenson's original story but do appear in the 1887 stage version by playwright Thomas Russell Sullivan.


History and Ownership

When Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer remade the film 10 years later with Spencer Tracy in the lead, the studio bought the rights to, and then recalled every print of the Mamoulian version that it could locate and most of the film was believed lost for decades. Ironically, the Tracy version was much less well received and March jokingly sent Tracy a telegram thanking him for the greatest boost to his reputation of his entire career. (Tracy and March would later appear together for the only time in 1960s Inherit The Wind)

As a result of MGM's purchase of this film, it is not owned by Universal Studios, which owns most pre-1950 Paramount sound features (and themselves have produced a popular line of horror films). Instead, MGM held on to the film for 45 years. The film passed on to Turner Entertainment after Ted Turner's short-lived acquisition of MGM, and then to Warner Bros. when Time Warner bought out Turner. Since then, Warner Home Video has released this film on DVD along with the 1941 version. Technically, Turner still owns the copyright, but WB handles sales and distribution for all Turner-owned titles.




  • Academy Awards: Oscar; Best Cinematography, Karl Struss; Best Adaptation Writing, Percy Heath and Samuel Hoffenstein; 1932.


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