Just so we’re clear, this the version with Fredric March, not the one with Spencer Tracy and Ingrid Bergman.
I could copy and paste my review of the 1941 “Dr. Jekyll & Mr. Hyde” for this 1931 film and I feel like it would reflect my feelings on both films – It was hard to pay attention to the film, but had great duel performances from Fredric March.
I will say this version had better cinematography, especially when it came to the perspective shots of Dr. Jekyll in the beginning of the and the mirror shots when he is transforming into Hyde. This is one of the earliest examples of first-person prespective shots in cinema, and for a film about the constant battle between good and evil within all of us, to see the world through Jekyll’s eyes works very well.
Still, the story is something we’ve all heard a million times and this adaptation stays loyal to that. This one is less horrifying than the 1941 version, going more for a sympathetic tone for Jekyll, having no control over when Hyde takes over and taking a more active role in the destruction of his life.
This version of “Dr. Jekyll & Mr. Hyde” sets the standards for all other adaptations of the story, as well as the mad scientist gone wrong tale. Two solid performances from Fredric March and the creative first-person perspective cinematography do make this one stand out, but these days its only worth watching once.
Final Grade: C+