Ain’t seen this one…

The 1912 version, extracted. I like the simplicity, probably a necessity since the whole film is only 11 minutes long. Also, Jekyll is old, which is rarely the case in subsequent versions. The changeover is a straightforward jump-cut, a la Melies. Something to build on in future versions. Hyde seems to be somehow more working class, and also afflicted with partial paralysis and missing his front teeth. But I’m not knocking him.

Jekyll’s played by James Cruze, later a director of seriously deranged mainstream Hollywood flicks like THE GREAT GABBO and the Edward Everett Horton star vehicle (!) BEGGAR ON HORSEBACK. Cruze seems to have had a volatile mixture of talent and anti-talent: his bad choices are often more interesting than his good ones.

Although Cruze is credited for both roles, apparently in some scenes Hyde is actually played by Harry Benham — I have no idea why. The idea of separate actors makes complete sense to me, and if we stopped treating the part as a tour de force for a single actor and just cast different guys, the thing would work much more naturally. But separate actors for just SOME SCENES — that’s wonderfully mad. They should have called it THAT OBSCURE OBJECT OF MR. HYDE.

6 Responses to “Ain’t seen this one…”

  1. I disagree. I think it has to be the same actor. For the same reason I think Cornenberg’s otherwise interesting Dead Ringers doesn’t work because he didn’t use real twins but Jeremy Irons times 2 instead. If you’ve known twins (and I’ve known quite a number in my times) it’s all the difference in the world.

    With Jekyll and Hyde we must think of the same performer in two modes of performance in order for it to yeild meaning. Hyde is something that has always been within Jeckyll that the exlixer unleashes. Two actors can’t show that.


    hve you seen this?

    would rather see it on proper screen than TV..

  3. There might be some mileage in a Young/Old – Hyde/Jekyll transformation. I don’t think that’s been done explicitly .

  4. I think David Hemmings’ TV version uses an older Jekyll. It’s stated in the book that J is late middle-aged, whereas Hyde certainly seems full of vigour…

    What if Jekyll and Hyde were played by twins, David?

    Pavlova is a renowned mess — it’ll be very nteresting to see what the restoration can do, Mary.

  5. So you would prefer the Zed And Two Noughts approach to the Dead Ringers one, David E.?

    (I liked the story Greenaway relates in his commentary on ZOO that apparently during a film festival Cronenberg sat down with him to quiz him in depth about how he shot the twins in the film during the time before Dead Ringers.)

  6. The trouble is, those twins can’t act. Which shouldn’t be an issue in a Greenway film, but remarkably enough, it is. He should have just got Gielgud to dub them, or is that another movie?

    Father and son actors as Jekyll and Hyde, or brothers, might be interesting.

    If you go back to the book, it’s a story about two men who turn out to be one, but of course the gimmick is so well known now that it plays differently. Renoir is just about the only filmmaker to play it kind of as a mystery, or AS IF it was a mystery.

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