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Entries in Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde (6)


NYFF: Isabelle Huppert as "Mrs. Hyde"

by Jason Adams

Isabelle Huppert walks out and stands in front of her classroom in Serge Bozon's Mrs. Hyde and she seems to disappear into the wall - the chalk on the chalkboard has more color than she does. She's paste in sensible shoes. We first meet her being harangued publicly by her students, and in a slow painful succession of scenes she's humiliated by everyone she comes into contact with. This is no Huppert Dragon Lady, then.

And then, voila, she's struck by lightning. And given what we drag into the movie theater with us, given this film's title, we think to ourselves, "Cue the dragon!"

So the most interesting thing about Mrs. Hyde is simultaneously its most frustrating thing - it's as if Bozon took it as a challenge to deny us what we came to this movie for.

Click to read more ...


Oscar Horrors: "Dr Jekyll and Mr Mouse"

Boo! It's time for "Oscar Horrors". Each night at 7 through Halloween we look back on a horror film or horror-adjacent film's Oscar nomination until Halloween. Here's Nathaniel R...

Here's an odd statistic to consider. Did you know that Tom & Jerry was Oscar's favorite character-based cartoon franchise? The MGM cat and mouse team won seven Oscars in the Best Animated Short category, more than any other series but for Disney's "Silly Symphonies" which also won seven times. Tom & Jerry's very first short was nominated and they won for four consecutive years from 1943-1946 at the peak of their fame.

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Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde and Ingrid Bergman Transforming

All month long we're celebrating Ingrid Bergman's centennial. Here's Jason on Bergman taking charge of her own career...

By 1941 Ingrid Bergman had followed up her first Hollywood foray Intermezzo (which abstew so beautifully introduced this series with on Thursday) with two more movies where she played, and these are her words, "a Hollywood peaches-and-cream girl," meaning the nice nicer nicest girl you ever did see, and she was fed up with it. In Adam Had Four Sons she was "the nice housekeeper" and in Rage in Heaven she was "a nice refugee." She wanted to actually be an actress, and act, and challenge herself. Producer David O. Selznick thought he had the winning formula though, and wanted to keep the ship steady. In her autobiography Bergman said of Selznick:

"David believed the Hollywood legend: the elevator boy always plays the elevator boy, the drunk's a drunk, the nurse always a nurse. In Hollywood you got yourself one role and you played it forever. That's what the audience wants to see, they said, the same old performance, the familiar face."

Selznick loved her already familiar face though and he was lining up projects left and right for her -- next on her plate was a remake of Dr. Jekyl and Mr. Hyde...

Click to read more ...


If We Had Oscar Ballots... a 1941 Extra

Tomorrow when the Supporting Actress Smackdown 1941 hits, we'll just be discussing the five nominees (24 more hours to get your ballots in for the reader's section of the vote!). As it should be. But for the first time in a Smackdown I polled my fellow panelists as to who they would have nominated if, uh, they'd have been alive in 1941 and if, uh, they'd been AMPAS members.

Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde lust after Lana Turner & Ingrid Bergman. And so does our panel.

Angelica and I didn't vote (I haven't seen enough 1941 pictures, I confess) but our other three panelists have recommendations for you outside the Oscar shortlist. In fact, all three of them only co-signed 2 of Oscar's 5 choices... different ones mostly so the Smackdown should be interesting (I'm not telling you which as the critiques come tomorrow!). So here are some For Your Considerations for your rental queues or your own assessments of that film year...

ANNE MARIE writes: 

Two of the nominations stay but otherwise I'd mix things up. First things first: Justice for Dorothy! Dorothy Comingore should have been nominated for playing Kane's second wife in Citizen Kane, but she was buried under bad publicity by the vengeful William Randolph Hearst. Comingore's performance was so good that her character continues to overshadow the real story of Marion Davies (who was neither bitter, nor talentless, nor married to Hearst). It's not fair that one ticked-off media mogul could kill a promising career. On a lighter note, I'd definitely add Lana Turner to my ballot for a solid year of supporting actress-ing in Dr. Jekyll and Mr. HydeZiegfeld Follies, and Johnny Eager (which would wait two years to be Oscar eligible). 1941 was the year that proved The Sweater Girl could act, and sparkle even in overheated melodramas like these three.

However, since How Green Was My Valley was clearly the Oscar magnet of 1941, a Supporting Actress nomination seems inevitable, so I'd cast my vote for Maureen O'Hara in another solid newcomer performance. Mostly though, I just want Maureen O'Hara to have an Oscar nomination. Just one.

Brian (aka StinkyLulu)

Agnes Moorehead and Ruth Warrick from Citizen Kane.  

And for a stirring glimpse of a potentially great comedic actress not yet fully shackled by the Hollywood machine, see Carmen Miranda in Week End in Havana or That Night in Rio

Nick Davis
He's trying to cheat! He knows how I feel about ties but he has trouble narrowing down his three remaining slots so he sneaks in an unofficial tie, sly one that he is...

My ballot would certainly include Theresa Harris (the veiled subject of Lynn Nottage's recent play By the Way, Meet Vera Stark), who is so spry and witty in what could have been a simple "maid" part in René Clair's The Flame of New Orleans, with Marlene Dietrich.  I also love Beulah Bondi in Penny Serenade, where she eschews the usual Bondi-isms that Margaret Wycherly so embraces in Sergeant York and plays a warm, fully dimensional adoption agent trying to bring happiness to Cary Grant and Irene Dunne while also managing their expectations, and treading her own line between public official and private sympathizer. 

Marlene Dietrich and Theresa Harris in "The Flame of New Orleans"

Ingrid Bergman comes on hot and heavy in the 1941 Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, out Lana Turner-ing Lana Turner in her own movie.  But then Marjorie Rambeau is a complete hoot in John Ford's much-maligned Tobacco Road, where she merits recognition much more than she does in the two movies that actually got her nominated.  She'd beat Bergman in a tug-of-war for that last spot, unless Bergman's sensuality burned up the rope.


Stage Door 'Cast This!' Edition: The Other Place

Ocassionally on Mondays or Tuesday's, we'll talk theater.

Do we have any fans of TV's historic sitcom "Roseanne" in the house? I ended up watching a couple of episodes the other day in syndication which happens to me probably once a year when I chance upon it -- it's hard to click away from. It was a double dose of Laurie Metcalf, Roseanne's sitcom sister Jackie, since I'd just seen her onstage anchoring the psychological drama "The Other Place" in which a brilliant neurologist's life begins to fall apart. Or... is it her life falling apart or (SLIGHT SPOILER) just her mind? That's the crux of the drama and it's a real actor's showcase of a play.

Metcalf won three Emmy Awards (and probably a lifetime supply of bank account) for her work on that famous sitcom but now she's aiming at a Tony. This is a juicy role -- the whole show would be a concave mess if the actress at its epienter couldn't keep it lively -- and I think she's definitely a threat come June for the statue. 

I enjoyed the play -- despite it feeling a bit small for the big stage --  but since I long for more intimate drama films that give actresses this much to work with, I already want to see it as a movie. So let's play...

"CAST THIS!" in the comments

Zoe Perry (Laurie Metcalf's daughter) & Laurie Metcalf in "The Other Place"

The Roles:
• Juliana Smithton, a neurologist who may or may not be lying to herself about all the drama in her life: her husband leaving her, her young daughter running away with her husband's colleague, and her own declining health. 
Who You Need: an actress in her 40s or 50s who can project real intelligence with weird snaps of emotional immaturity and possibly mental illness. 
The Woman who is several characters including an angry daughter, put upon assistant, and lonely divorcee.
Who You Need: an actress in her 20s or 30s to shapeshift for multiple characters, some actual characters some possibly only projections of actual people. Bonus points if she could believably be your lead's daughter. 

Theater Links To Go
20at20 Off Broadways shows for only $20 for next 20 days only
Playbill Frank Wildhorn's Jekyll & Hyde musical might be getting the big screen treatment. Ugh of all the stage musicals to adapt?! One that's of a story that's already had a bajillion film versions? Oops, that describes Les Miz too but at least Les Miz has the Les Miz music! This sounds more like a potential Phantom of the Opera problem.


Oscar Horrors: A Two Faced Oscar Win

Oscar Horrors Continues

Here lies... Fredric March’s charming Dr Jekyll face, devoured by the monstrosity that is Mr. Hyde. Though his Hyde face didn’t manage to scare all the other nominees away – March tied for the Best Actor award that year, and in a field of only three nominees – when you stop to think about it, his win was still quite a feat. 

Hollywood’s idea of what constitutes a good performance has changed over the years so it’s almost inconceivable for a performance of such exaggerated expressionism in a horror film to stand a chance of winning today. (Although, give this to Robert and I’m sure he’ll prove me wrong by drawing parallels between March and Natalie Portman’s Nina.) Oscar-y or not, however, the performance is a marvel; perhaps the only thing that remains so fresh about the film 80 years on.

Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde (1931) is a horror film, but to the desensitized eyes of my generation – for whom horror means gore and brutality and 12 people sewn together ass-to-mouth – it plays more like a campy horror comedy. What keeps the film grounded (and serious-minded) is its sensitively realized performances, particularly that of March, who gets every note right.

The Jekyll to Hyde transition, with no CGI!

As Jekyll, March is handsome and charismatic; as Hyde he’s hideous and violent. The two characters are purposely the opposite sides of the coin. They share nothing in common and March plays both of them really well, but the real reason the performance is so great is the way he connects the two. It’s key to the narrative, as it is in the original book, to imply that these two wildly different characters can exist within the same person. As Dr. Jekyll announces in the opening:

My analysis of the human psyche leads me to believe that man is not truly one, but truly two ...the good self... and the bad self.

March manages to capture that in his performance. As Hyde, he shows an aggression that can be reflected in his self-distrust as Jekyll. All of Hyde’s uncontrollable cruelty can be traced back in Jekyll’s internal conflict. And the duality can be seen in his eyes the whole time.

Hyde with his favoured prostitute. Sexuality is a major element in this pre-Code film.

Rumour has it, when the 1941 remake was released and universally panned, Spencer Tracy, who played the leading role, received a telegram from March. In it, March apparently thanked him for the biggest boost of his career. Tracy’s portrayal paled in comparison. I haven’t seen the remake, but I wouldn’t be surprised if I agree with the consensus. March’s performance is one for the ages.


Other Oscar ACTING Horrors...
Rosemary's Baby - Best Supporting Actress

Whatever Happened to Baby Jane -Best Actress in a Leading Role
The Exorcist -Best Actress in a Supporting Role 
Carrie - Best Actress in a Leading Role