9 Different Lives of Jekyll and Hyde

Reading Time: 5 minutes

ANDREW GARVEY looks at nine very different interpretations of the infamous and terrible Mr. Hyde in film, television, comics, radio and even computer games.

Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde (1920)Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde (1920)

John Barrymore’s 1920 dual portrayal in Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde of the kindly, progressive Jekyll and the sinister, creepy Hyde remains one of the most vivid ever filmed.  Barrymore, as actors did in the silent era, does tend to pantomime about the place a little too much for modern tastes but using his own facial contortions, make-up, lighting and some ground-breaking prosthetic hands, Barrymore’s transformation is a memorable one.  Once unleashed, Hyde’s behaviour is suitably loathsome.
Read Spooky Isles review of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde (1920) here

Frederic March as Mr HydeDr Jekyll and Mr Hyde (1931)

The only man to pick up a Best Actor Oscar for the role, Frederic March’s version of both characters in 1931 classic Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde remains possibly the very best.  His Jekyll is just about perfect and the initial transformation is imaginative and well ahead of its time.  Hyde is too cartoonishly simian in looks to take seriously at first but is truly villainous, particularly as he spends so much time menacing the unfortunate Ivy (a convincingly desperate Miriam Hopkins).  Vicious, manipulative and aggressive, Hyde the woman-beating sexual predator is one of the best and more realistic movie monsters of the ‘30s.
Read Spooky Isles review of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde (1931) here

Paul Massie as the handsome Mr Hyde in The Two Faces of Dr JekyllThe Two Faces of Dr Jekyll (1960)

Hammer’s first re-interpretation of the story – The Two Faces of Dr. Jekyll hit cinema screens in 1960.  Set in 1870s London, Canadian actor Paul Massie plays Jekyll as a stiff, lonesome dullard, complete with extensive facial make-up and false beard.  His Hyde, far from being a mis-shapen monster is a polite and handsome but cruel and lecherous man who quickly discovers the truth about Jekyll’s cheating young wife Kitty and his money-grubbing ‘friend’ (her lover) Paul Allen.  Less a horror film than a travelogue wallowing in the city’s clubs, opium dens and whorehouses, Hyde’s slide into destructive degeneracy and revenge is a compelling, underrated take on the tale.
Read Spooky Isles review of The Two Faces of Dr Jekyll (1960) here

Martine Beswick in Dr Jekyll and Sister HydeDr Jekyll and Sister Hyde (1971)

Hyde’s second and final Hammer outing in 1971 is also the earliest known appearance of a female Hyde in the striking form of model, actress and Bond girl Martine Beswick.  Dr. Jekyll and Sister Hyde is an imaginative mash-up of Stevenson’s tale, Jack the Ripper and Burke and Hare.  Ralph Bates’ Jekyll starts off as fairly standard stuff – in this case a decent man pushed too far by scientific ambition and his search for the elixir of life via female hormones – but bears far more responsibility for the film’s murders than the average Jekyll.  The transformations are cheaply, easily done and this is one of very few examples where Hyde, the female gimmick and looks aside, is far less interesting than Jekyll.
Read Spooky Isles Review of Dr Jekyll and Sister Hyde (1971) Here

Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde Nintendo GameDr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde (Nintendo)

In 1988 (in Japan at least, the North American release came a year later), a little over a century on from the publication of Stevenson’s tale, video game publishers Bandai released Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde for the Nintendo Entertainment System.  A side-scrolling action game in which Hyde is activated when Jekyll’s ‘anger meter’ is filled up, it’s widely regarded as one of the most poorly executed, frustratingly unplayable video games of all time.

Hyde in The Extraordinary League of GentlemenThe League of Extraordinary Gentlemen

A truly startling physical representation of Hyde first appeared in 1999 comic book series, the League of Extraordinary Gentlemen by legendary writer/curmudgeon Alan Moore.  One of a group of literary characters re-imagined for a rollicking adventure in the latter days of the nineteenth century, this Hyde is a truly monstrous giant, albeit one with bags of self-awareness and a clear sense of right and wrong.  Forget the unforgivable film adaptation – the way Moore’s Hyde metes out some gruesomely poetic justice to the Invisible Man and welcomes some invading Martians are unforgettable on the printed, illustrated page.

Hyde by Steve NilesHyde

In 2004, Steve Niles, the highly respected creator of smash hit vampire comic 30 Days of Night wrote a short, one-off graphic novel called Hyde.  Brothers Robert and Henry Jekyll are scientists on the brink of perfecting a drug that can cleanse the human mind of all thoughts of violence and evil.  With their funding about to be cut, they experiment on themselves, accidentally unleashing a frighteningly violent murderer.  But which of them is Hyde?  With raw, atmospheric artwork by Nick Stakal, Niles’ vision of Hyde is a particularly nasty one well worth a read.

James-Nesbitt-in-JekyllJekyll (BBC series)

In 2007, the BBC screened six-part miniseries Jekyll, starring James Nesbitt.  Dr. Tom Jackman has developed a complex system of safeguards and communicates with his alter-ego via a voice recorder they both carry.  Nesbitt’s Hyde, all cheesy lines, rubbery-faced gurning and wild-eyed looks is a far more playful, comedic version than most although he remains a very dangerous character with some superhuman abilities.  Writer Steven Moffat (currently in charge of Dr. Who) spins a smartly written, wilfully preposterous tale that links directly to the original book, taking in a massive conspiracy, Jekyll’s deteriorating mental state and ultimately, a shot at redemption for the unhinged Hyde.

David RintoulThe Strange Case of Dr Hyde

A 2012 BBC Radio Scotland four-part drama, The Strange Case of Dr. Hyde, starred British television regular David Rintoul as a troubled policeman searching for the culprit in a string of grisly killings.  Stuffed with red herrings, allusions and references to the original tale and throwing in elements of Frankenstein, police procedurals and revenge thrillers, Chris Dolan’s script is an intricately plotted tale set in modern day Edinburgh.  More inspired by than directly adapted from the original story, it’s a very enjoyable listen with a very different kind of Hyde.


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