The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde (1968)

aka Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde
Article 1849 by Dave Sindelar
Viewing Date: 4-7-2006
Posting Date: 9-4-2006
Directed by Charles Jarrott
Featuring Jack Palance, Denholm Elliott, Leo Genn

A doctor experiments with a potion to separate the good and evil parts of man, and ends up creating a monstrous villain.

Without straining I can think of eight versions of this story that I’ve already seen for this series, and so I can say with some confidence that when I watch a new version, I don’t really expect to be surprised. And, true enough, this version doesn’t really surprise me; however, it doesn’t bore me in the least and holds my attention throughout. I’ve heard it said that it’s more faithful than any of the other adaptations, though I’d have to compare it to the Stevenson story (which I haven’t read) as well as to THE TESTAMENT OF DR. CORDELIER (which I suspect is also very true to the story) to say for sure. I do know this; the differences between this version and the other versions I’ve seen help to give the movie a freshness that made it quite enjoyable. You can thank the strong production by Dan Curtis, the tight direction of Charles Jarrott, and the excellent performance by Jack Palance as well. The rest of the cast is also first-rate, including Denholm Elliott as George Devlin and Oscar Homolka as Stryker. Still, it’s Palance who really impresses me here; he does such a fine job in both of the roles that he once again confounds my expectations of what a typical Jack Palance role would be like; I think he was an incredibly versatile performer. My only problem with this one is that the script occasionally overplays its hand; in particular, the opening scene where Dr. Jekyll faces off with a sneering panel of physicians is a little too cliched to really be effective, and having most of the dialogue reprised during the final confrontation scene is the one down side to what is otherwise an extraordinarily effective scene. But these are really minor quibbles; the movie works very well indeed, and I look forward to seeing some of Curtis’s other TV horror movies from the same era.


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