26 June 1999 | David-240
Ponderous - certainly not scary - but beautiful.
This is a thoughtful interpretation of the Stevenson story but is very rarely emotionally engaging. The theme seems to be sexual repression, with Hyde coming from Jekyll's repressed lust. As Hyde takes over we witness some extraordinary and very graphic Freudian imagery such as Bergman and Turner, naked, pulling a chariot containing Tracy and his whip, and Bergman being screwed out of a bottle by a corkscrew! Amazing. But the horror of the story is never realized and there is too much philosophical chat.
Tracy is terrific in the lead, but his make-up for Hyde is too subtle to be effective. The transformations require him to stand completely still which makes them a bit dull. The final transformation is quite an achievement however. Bergman could have been great but her attempt at a cockney accent seriously detracts from her fine emotional interpretation. Lana Turner is awful as Tracy's true love. But the rest of the cast is very strong - especially Donald Crisp.
The film also contains some fine Fleming touches, including his beautiful slow pans over magnificent sets and crowd scenes. The cinematography is excellent - make sure you don't watch the colorised version - and foggy Victorian London is recreated stunningly. This film never rises to the horror of the 1920 or the 1932 versions but still has much to offer.