Movie Adaptations of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde
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Movie Adaptations of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde

Film adaptations of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde from 1913 to current day. Robert Louis Stevenson's novel has been the inspiration for movie and stage adaptations for nearly a century.

Robert Louis Stevenson’s novel The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde was written in 1886. Stevenson’s story of the battle between good and evil and what he sees as the dual nature of man has been adapted for film and stage dozens of times over the past century.

A search of Netflix and IMDb produced no less than 20 movie adaptations of the book with dozens of additional listings of films that were derivative works such as Dr. Jekyll and Sister Hyde where Dr. Jekyll actually turns into a woman and Daughter of Dr. Jekyll, a slasher horror film from 1957. The movie Mary Reilly starring Julia Roberts and John Malkovich is the story told from the viewpoint of a maid serving in the home of Dr. Jekyll. There is even a Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde video game where the player responds to conflict either positively or negatively turning him into the monstrous Hyde or reverting to the kind and good Dr. Jekyll.

There are few movies that are actually true to the plot straying far from the intention of Stevenson’s theme of the profound struggle between our natural propensity toward sin and hedonism and our spiritual desire toward goodness. Dr. Jekyll wishes to be rid of the conflict. His experimentation to isolate the two into separate vessels results in the splitting off of the vicious and hateful Mr. Hyde to indulge his evil lusts.

Many of the movies involve some love interest where a woman falls under the spell of Mr. Hyde and is entangled in an abusive love affair with him. In the book there is no love affair with any woman and there is no detail given as to the specific activities of Mr. Hyde, only that they are of a vile and wicked nature. In fact the book describes Mr. Hyde as so detestable that he is described as somehow deformed.

In the movies, it is always clear from the beginning that the persons of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde are one and the same. The book however tells the story as a mystery that unfolds as it is being investigated by a dear friend of Dr. Jekyll’s. It is understandable that the movie unpacks the book in the manner that it does because we, the audience, are given the privilege of being an omniscient observer which creates the tension of the classic horror thriller. The book is more of a psychological study rather than a thriller. The embellishments that the screenwriters include could easily be imagined from the implications in the book.

Following is the list assembled from my search of Netflix, IMBd and Wikipedia. The genres range from horror to comedy with a few musicals thrown in as well.

1913 One of the earliest movies is a 26 minute silent film starring King Baggot.

1920 Silent film starring John Barrymore. My personal favorite.

1931 Oscar winner starring Fredric March and Miriam Hopkins

1941 Starring Spencer Tracy and Ingrid Bergman. Excellent! Berman as the tortured love interest and Spencer Tracy as Hyde is diabolical. Good on screen transformation.

1953 Abbott and Costello Meet Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde - obviously a comedy

1955 Adaptation by Gore Vidal starring Michael Rennie

1968 Starring Jack Palance. The review claims that it is true to the novel.

1982 A raunchy comedy Jekyll & Hyde Together Again.

1990 Starring Michael Caine and Cheryl Ladd

1999 Animated version starring the voices of Max Meldrum and David Nettheim. The premise is that the good Dr. Jekyll accidentally is exposed to the potion that causes him to turn evil.

1999 Adam Baldwin in the starring role as a surgeon that is killed in Hong Kong while on his honeymoon and resurrected by a Chinese medicine man (sounds more like Frankenstein to me)

2001 Broadway musical on film - Jekyll & Hyde: The Musical starring David Hasselhoff

2003 Rock musical set in Los Angeles starring Alan Bernhoft

2006 Modern version starring Tony Todd in which two policemen are investigating murders leading to Mr. Hyde.

2006 Violent teen slasher Jekyll + Hyde starring Bryan Fisher as Jay Jekyll

2008 Starring Dougray Scott - the premise here is that the transformation is accidental and happens during a research project. Dr. Jekyll is unaware of Mr. Hyde’s murderous escapades until it is too late. In the novel, Dr. Jekyll is fully aware of Hyde and his activities.

Robert Louis Stevenson's Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde: Plot and Character Summary

Photos downloaded from Wikimedia Commons and are in the public domain

Resources: IMBd and Netflix


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Comments (2)

Really good article. I saw the version with Jack Palance. He was great!

I need to order that version. thanks for the vote and comments.