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Two Faces of Dr Jekyll, The

Entry updated 8 December 2022. Tagged: Film.

Film (1960; vt House of Fright; vt Jekyll's Inferno). Hammer Film Productions (UK), American International Pictures (US). Directed by Terence Fisher. Produced by Michael Carreras. Written by Wolf Mankowitz, very loosely based (uncredited) on Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde (1886) by Robert Louis Stevenson. Cast includes Dawn Addams, Christopher Lee and Paul Massie. 88 minutes. Colour.

In 1870s London, Dr Henry Jekyll (Massie) is working on methods to release animal instincts which are suppressed in humanity. His neglected wife Kitty (Addams) begins an adulterous affair with Henry's sleazy friend Paul Allen (Lee), a notorious compulsive gambler. Finding the correct formula at last, Jekyll transforms into the young, self-confident and more handsome Edward Hyde (also Massie). He quickly becomes friends with Allen, who has no idea of Hyde's other identity, and they explore the seamier side of nineteenth-century London including opium dens and pleasure houses. Hyde then ironically sets his sights on Kitty; when she eventually rejects him he rapes and kills her, a crime for which he places the blame on Dr Henry Jekyll. Having learned of Kitty's and Paul's affair, Hyde soon settles matters with Paul as well. After a struggle of wills, the Hyde personality suppresses Jekyll completely: the authorities believe Jekyll has died, and Hyde goes about his way as the film concludes.

The film obviously takes great liberties with Stevenson's original story, particularly in having Hyde live at the end, perhaps the only version to date which does so. Lee's performance is reportedly a favourite of the actor's. [GSt]


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