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The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde

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The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde (1968) starring Jack Palance, Denholm Elliott, Leo Genn, Billie Whitelaw
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The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde (1968) starring Jack Palance, Denholm Elliott, Leo Genn, Billie Whitelaw

It should be said that The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde is an adaptation of the stage play, not the original story. Having said that, it’s an excellent telling of the Jekyll/Hyde story. Jack Palance turns in a great performance as Hyde. Rarely, if ever, has Hyde been portrayed as what he is. The dark side of human nature. Rage without mercy, jealousy, anger, pettiness … It’s a long list. And Jack Palance does a wonderful job of bringing this monster to life on screen.

Producer Dan Curtis applied much of what he learned in the Gothic soap opera Dark Shadows here, in the best way. The atmosphere is dark and foreboding when it should be. Time is spent introducing the various characters, so the audience cares about them. In addition, he introduces something from the Dark Shadows version of the Jekyll and Hyde story. When one of Jeklyll’s suppliers has deduced the nature of Mr. Hyde, he’s foolish enough to blackmail Jekyll. Who in turn releases the fury of Hyde on the man.

Cast of characters

  • Jack Palance (Sudden Fear, The Silver Chalice) as Dr. Henry Jekyll / Mr. Edward Hyde. An excellent performance. Jack Palance brings a ferocity, viciousness, and lack of scruples to the amoral Hyde that’s rarely seen. Hyde is all of those things, while retaining Jekyll’s intellect and knowledge. His rendition of Henry Jekyll, although interesting, is different. Jekyll does not believe in a God, much less one that endows humanity with moral values. Where does Jekyll’s moral compass come from? We’re never told.
  • Denholm Elliott as Mr. George Devlin. Jekyll’s friend and solicitor.
  • Leo Genn (Quo Vadis) as Dr. Lanyon. Another friend, who learns the secret at the end.
  • Oskar Homolka (The Invisible Woman, Mr. Sardonicus) as Stryker. The man who supplies Jekyll with the critical ingredient needed for his experiments. A very curious man. And a foolish one, who deduces the secret of Hyde, and makes the mistake of blackmailing Jekyll. A fatal mistake.
  • Billie Whitelaw as Gwyn Thomas. Gwyn is Hyde’s girlfriend. I won’t say his love interest, because Hyde’s incapable of it. She is young, beautiful, and willing to do things for money. Hyde treats her abominably. At one point, when he wrongfully accuses her of cheating on her, he humiliates her in front of her best friend. When Gwyn goes upstairs to cry … Hyde takes the back side of a wicker chair, follows her upstairs, and beats her savagely with it. Hyde considers her his property. In fact, after Hyde’s disappearance, she takes aim at Dr. Henry Jekyll. And it’s his jealousy that enables Hyde to reappear, without Jekyll’s formula. And leads directly to Gwynn’s murder.
  • Tessie O’Shea as Tessie O’Toole. Proprietor of The Windmills, the public house where Gwyn works, and Hyde frequents.

Additional Cast

  • Torin Thatcher (Seventh Voyage of Sinbad) as Sir John Turnbull.
  • Rex Sevenoaks as Dr. Wright
  • Gillie Fenwick as Poole. Jekyll’s faithful servant.
  • Elizabeth Cole as Hattie
  • Duncan Lamont as Sergeant Grimes
  • Paul Harding as Constable Johnson

Editorial review of The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde courtesy of Amazon

This gem of a production was nominated for six Emmy Awards and is acclaimed as the finest of all the interpretations. Called “ornately atmospheric horror,” by The Hollywood Reporter, it is a powerful adaptation of Robert Louis Stevenson’s unforgettable tale, featuring Jack Palance as the mild Dr. Jekyll and the brutally evil Mr. Hyde.

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