Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde is a 1941 horror film starring Spencer Tracy, Ingrid Bergman and Lana Turner. Rather than being a new film version of the novel, it is a direct remake of the 1931 film of the same title, which differs greatly from the novel, due to both films' heavy dependence on the Thomas Sullivan stage version. The movie was based on Robert Louis Stevenson's 1886 novella the Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde and directed by Victor Fleming, director of Gone with the Wind and The Wizard of Oz two years earlier. Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer (where Fleming was based) acquired the rights to the 1931 film, originally released by Paramount Pictures, in order to keep the earlier film out of circulation. Every print of the 1931 film that could be located was destroyed, making it essentially a "lost film" for decades except for clips until a full version was found and restored.
The MGM version was produced by Victor Saville and adapted by John Lee Mahin from the screenplay of the earlier film by Percy Heath and Samuel Hoffenstein. The music score was composed by Franz Waxman with uncredited contributions by Daniele Amfitheatrof and Mario Castelnuovo-Tedesco. The cinematographer was Joseph Ruttenberg, the art director was Cedric Gibbons, and the costume designers were Adrian and Gile Steele. Jack Dawn created the make-up for the dissolute Mr. Hyde's appearance.
The film also features Donald Crisp, Ian Hunter, Barton MacLane, C. Aubrey Smith and Sara Allgood.
Dr. Jekyll (Spencer Tracy) believes good and evil exist in everyone. Experiments reveal his evil side, named Mr. Hyde. Experience teaches him how evil Hyde can be: he rapes Ivy Pearson (Ingrid Bergman), who earlier expressed interest in Jekyll. Meanwhile, Jekyll is preparing to marry Beatrix Emery (Lana Turner). Over the course of the film, Hyde abuses Ivy. Feeling remorse over the treatment inflicted on Ivy, Jekyll vows to never take the serum again, destroys the key to his lab, and sends money to Ivy anonymously. Ivy believes the money was sent by Hyde in order to trick her into believing she is now free. On the advice of a friend over her rattled nerves, she goes to Jekyll for comfort. Jekyll promises that Hyde will never hurt her again.
On the way to Emery's house for the announcement of his marriage to Beatrix, Jekyll transforms into Hyde without taking the serum. He goes over to Ivy's house, accuses her of meeting with Jekyll, and starts to strangle her. He escapes back to his lab, but discovers that he no longer has the key to the lab. He fails to break into the front door of his place and goes to Dr. Lanyon (Ian Hunter), a personal friend, for help. Lanyon is shocked to find out that both Jekyll and Hyde are the same person as Hyde drinks the antidote in his friend's presence. Jekyll decides to break off the engagement to Bea in order to keep his secret. She refuses to accept, her reaction triggering Jekyll to become Hyde and frighten Bea. Her father (Donald Crisp) responds to her scream, only to be beaten to death by Hyde.
Lanyon finds a piece of Jekyll's cane, and realizes he's responsible. He leads police to search Hyde's laboratory, only to find Jekyll (having strong-armed past his butler Poole (Peter Godfrey) to get to an antidote). During questioning he starts to transform into Hyde. In the ensuing struggle Lanyon mortally shoots Hyde, who reverts to Jekyll as he dies.
Despite having not yet met his later co-star Katharine Hepburn – they met when they made Woman of the Year (1942) – Spencer Tracy originally wanted Hepburn to play both Bergman's and Turner's roles as the 'bad' and 'good' woman, who would then turn out to be the same person.
Initial casting had Bergman playing the virtuous fiancée of Jekyll and Turner as 'bad girl' Ivy. However, Bergman, tired of playing saintly characters and fearing typecasting, pleaded with Victor Fleming that she and Turner switch roles. After a screen test, Fleming allowed Bergman to play a grittier role for the first time.
According to MGM records the film earned $2,351,000 resulting in a profit of $350,000.
Film review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes reported an approval rating of 65%, based on 20 reviews, with a rating average of 6.7/10. Film critic Leonard Maltin gave the film 3 out of a possible 4 stars, praising Tracy and Bergman's performances.
The movie was nominated for three Oscars, for Best Cinematography (Black-and-White), Best Film Editing & Best Music, Scoring of a Dramatic Picture.
2005: AFI's 100 Years of Film Scores – Nominated
The film is recognized by American Film Institute in these lists: