Thursday, October 16, 2014
31 Days of Halloween - Day 16 - Movie 2
Hammer tackles the story of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde in The Two Faces of Dr. Jekyll (1960), in which the obsessed scientist played by Paul Massie uncovers a means of unleashing his inner dark side in the form of Mr. Hyde (also Paul Massie).
Hammer played against expectations by making Jekyll the hirsute unattractive one and Hyde the clean cut handsome one. While Hyde is a loathsome, sadistic, sociopathic, hedonist and completely unlikable, Jekyll's no one to root for either. He cares nothing for anyone except his experiments. His inattention to his wife has driven her into the arms of his alleged friend, Paul Allen (nicely played by Christopher Lee) who also sponges off Jekyll's generosity, using the scientist to pay off his own huge gambling debts. There are no characters to sympathize with, or root for here. The bulk of the supporting characters are criminals, drunks, prostitutes, and self centered hedonists like Hyde, including a young Oliver Reed.
Terrence Fisher's direction is up to his usual high standard with nice use of color and staging that takes advantage of the depth of the sets by using foreground, middle ground and background to tell the story. Unfortunately all of the colorful Can-Can girls and other visual spectacle cannot elevate this movie beyond a well made curiosity. Attempts at suggesting a love story, and setting up a tragedy are wasted because the love is between back stabbing adulterers, and tragedy befalls characters who seem to deserve what they get. The problem really comes down to neither of Dr. Jekyll's two faces being part of a character we care about.