Film detective time again!
Arch-Shadowplayer Randy Cook sent me a discovery — what appears to be a nubile Wilfred Hyde-White in Rouben Mamoulian’s 1932 DR JEKYLL AND MR HYDE, spotted leaving Fredric March’s opening lecture.
This is Big News in that it;s unlisted on the IMDb and would put WHW in the movies two years earlier than the IMDb would have it — and making his debut in Hollywood rather than Cricklewood.
Biographical info on the silvery one is somewhat sparse, but we are told he embarked on a tour of South Africa in 1932. Very well — either he decided to keep travelling and took a crack at the movie capital, or else South Africa was a cover story, something young Wilfred (!) thought sounded more respectable than moviedom.
But hang on — is it him? It looks like him, and who else could? I also applied my forensic identification expertise, which consists of one helpful tip, acquired making NATAN, in which we had to differentiate, to our own satisfaction, between a distinguished French movie producer and a series of porno actors, one with a passing resemblance. The hint is that, socially, we concentrate on the middle of the face, the eyes nose and mouth, and the general shape. But the ears have much to tell us — though they grow throughout a person’s life, they do not naturally acquire or discard lobes, and the crenellations within remain broadly consistent.
This Hyde-White-alike not only has a similar elongated visage, with similar, distinctly shaped features, his ears are a pretty close match too. What are the chances?
The only snag is the voice, which seems not to have yet acquired the reedy, fluting, querulous, nasal, professorial tone we know from later movies — I should hate to think it was an affectation! In REMBRANDT (1936), the earliest confirmed WHW movie I have to hand, he already has it, in rudimentary form anyway. Playing a medical student, he may have thought it unhelpful and suppressed it. Anyway, your views are welcome — if you have the DVD, the scene in question is right at the start, and it’s always worth revisiting this classic anyway.