In the evident striving to make Jekyll a ‘big’ film, by elaborating the theme and introducing new characters and situations, some of the finer psychological points are dulled. John Lee Mahin’s screenscript is over-length.
Nevertheless, it has its highly effective moments, and Spencer Tracy plays the dual roles with conviction. His transformations from the young physician, bent on biological and mental research as an escape from his own moral weaknesses, to the demoniac Mr Hyde are brought about with considerably less alterations in face and stature than audiences might expect.
Ingrid Bergman plays the enslaved victim of Hyde’s debauches. In every scene in which the two appear, she is Tracy’s equal as a strong screen personality.
The script is meagre on the very important phase of Jekyll’s inner struggle to free himself from his deadly alter ego. Millions of Stevenson readers have long found excitement and thrill in the angle that Jekyll’s predicament was self-conceived to hide criminal and vicious desires. Mahin emphasizes that misdirected scientific research was the cause of the good doctor’s downfall.
1941: Nominations: Best B&W Cinematography, Editing, Scoring of a Dramatic Picture