Duality

For 1960, there’s a concentrated mean streak in Two Faces of Dr. Jekyll. A more vicious, crass dialect enters the conversations. Adultery is frequent, even celebrated. Sexual violence plays a key part, and eventually, murder.

More than just Dr. Jekyll (Paul Massie) indulging his brutish side, there’s a sultry femininity. Jekyll’s wife Kitty (Dawn Addams) flaunts herself and her affair, manipulating both men in her lives. Come Hyde, there’s still yet a third.

Two Faces of Dr. Jekyll’s cynical eye at late 1800s London life finds a less forgiving tone

With its opening scene, Jekyll speaks on his research, stating that all people harbor two of their true selves. Introverted and insular, it takes drugs to bring out his opposite side. For others, they willfully do so for their own advantages. Although judgmental and cruel (waving off mute children playing outside of his lab), Jekyll doesn’t descend into more surly sin; he’s too preoccupied. For the others in this adaptation, they choose to succumb to unseemly pleasures.

Under the influence from his experimental concoction, Hyde is awful. He abuses women, verbally and physically. Eventually, he kills. But, he’s not disfigured. Rather, he’s a natural socialite, handsome and outgoing. His victims fail to resist his allure, giving in to their carnal side. Around all of this – the fancy décor, the excessive gambling, pricey drinks – London is a mess. No one cares. Hyde himself willingly steals to better himself, but a beggar he nearly kills just for suggesting a handout.

Two Faces of Dr. Jekyll isn’t a monster movie, as most adaptations of this story are. Three years later, Jerry Lewis played this role as comedy in The Nutty Professor, but no one involved in that production seemed to grasp the inherent villainy. Rather, it accelerated the brutish scientist’s worst behavior; Two Faces of Dr. Jekyll’s cynical eye at late 1800s London life finds a less forgiving tone.

For its successes though, Two Faces of Dr. Jekyll slogs to its finish. A rather rushed opening act gives way to a plodding follow through. It’s not a nuanced take, nor does it have to be, but even portraying two personas, the characters never click beyond high-class archetypes indifferent to what’s around them. Each projects inflamed narcissism, whether based on pursuing wealth or sexual desire. So little separates one from the other, key players mash together into a bundle of awful. Striking in its forthrightness, if desperate for a hero to bring sensibility.

Video

Gracious in color splendor, the immediate impact in this transfer comes from saturation. Costumes prove especially bold. During a party/dance, the various dresses, flowers, and wall decor splash stunning hues onto the screen. Nothing is lost to time, the print’s natural qualities preserved. It’s also clean, nary a speck of dirt to note. Any that do appear cause no real detriment.

Potent black levels succeed on their end, capturing nuance even in darker shadows, lined with black suits. It’s equally bright, firm in contrast and dimension. Things like sparkling jewelry make for even better highlights.

While grain remains on the master, fidelity is eroded by light filtering. Texture is sadly muted. Not entirely as some facial detail looks prominent, if lacking in the best possible precision. There’s unnatural glossiness, robbing Two Faces of Dr. Jekyll of its crispest potential. Mill Creek’s encode appears to keep up, but it’s difficult to know whether artifacts or noise reduction cause concern.

Audio

Full DTS-HD mono excels on both ends, triggering the subwoofer when the score requires it. Then, crisp treble picks up the other end. There’s near zero distortion, and for mono, the range is exceptionally bold.

At the dialog level, Two Faces of Dr. Jekyll exposes source limitations, notably dubbing in certain lines. It’s unavoidable. End results are pleasing overall though, vintage and pure.

Extras

Nothing.

The Two Faces of Dr. Jekyll
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While willingly stretching censorship limits from the time, The Two Faces of Dr. Jekyll falls to its own cynical worldview.

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