The Two Faces Of Dr. Jekyll (1960)

Rating: **
Review Date: 7/5/10
Director: Terence Fisher
Cast: Paul Massie, Dawn Addams, Christopher Lee, Norma Marla, cameo by Oliver Reed

Robert Louis Stevenson's classic tale of human nature gets the Hammer treatment, but fails to be very interesting. Dr. Henry Jekyll (Paul Massie) is a kind and brilliant scientist who has devoted his life to freeing the higher being of Man from the bonds of society and morality. Unfortunately, the "higher being" turns out to be pure evil, and manifests itself as a split personality known as Edward Hyde. Hyde's personality is stronger than Jekyll's, and he goes on a hedonistic spree of wine, women, drugs, and all other manner of debauchery. When he discovers the duplicitous nature of his lovely wife Kitty (beautiful Dawn Addams) and her affair with his shameless friend Paul Allen (smarmy Christopher Lee), he puts a plan of revenge into motion to humiliate them both. Ultimately, Hyde wants to be free of Jekyll, but both personalities rely on the host body for their existence. After much tragedy, Jekyll's final act ensures that Hyde will do no more harm to society.

Another great looking and well made Hammer production with strong and even direction from Terence Fisher, but it just ends up being boring as hell. I suppose the source material is somewhat to blame, since I never found the story to be anything more than a curious thought exercise. Paul Massie gives a delightful performance as both the tormented Jekyll and the sinister Hyde, but his intensity borders on overacting at times. Dawn Addams and her fabulous wardrobe are gorgeous throughout and handles her dual role as wife/mistress quite well. Christopher Lee is hilarious and brings a wicked glee to his extremely despicable character. It's just a shame that the pacing is so tedious and the narrative is so weak. The film even has a complex dance number in it, which I found odd. But the film's most shocking moment comes from a snake dance by Norma Marla, where she sticks a good sized snake's head into her mouth. Whoa... I'm still a bit shaken up by that one.