The Two Faces of Dr. Jekyll (1960)

Dr. Henry Jekyll (Paul Massie) is a scientist attempting to understand the animal nature of man.  He is obsessive in his research to the point that he completely ignores his wife Kitty (Dawn Addams), but that doesn't matter to her as she has fallen in love with his gambling addicted and philandering friend Paul Allen (Christopher Lee).  Jekyll, of course, knows nothing of this.

However, once he uses his serum on himself and turns into Edward Hyde, he finds out what his wife has been up to.  He befriends Paul and attempts to win Kitty for himself, as well as court dancer and prostitute Maria (Norma Maria).  Hyde, as usual, has no moral base and is more than willing to kill and scheme for whatever he wants.  Dr. Jekyll tries to suppress him, but Hyde becomes the dominant personality, to the point that Jekyll fades into little more than a memory - one that can conveniently be blamed for Hyde's crimes.

This Hammer version of the Robert Louis Stephenson novella is rather well done.  It has the usual elements, but Jekyll doesn't come across as the bland saint that he is portrayed as in other versions.  Instead, he is an absentee husband and antisocial monster, in many ways much more or just the same as Hyde is a monster.  Hyde, despite his lack of morals, is as usual much more interesting, and if it wasn't for his sociopathic tendencies would be the run to root for here.

Terence Fisher as usual does a great job as director, and this is one of the more underrated Hammer films.  The later Dr. Jekyll and Sister Hyde is a bit more interesting of a take on this story, but making Dr. Jekyll the more unlikeable character definitely enhances the story.

The Two Faces of Dr. Jekyll (1960)
Time: 88 minutes
Starring: Paul Massie, Dawn Addams, Christopher Lee
Director: Terrence Fisher


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