Director: Terence Fisher
Writer: Wolf Mankowitz
Cast: Paul Massie, Dawn Addams, Christopher Lee, David Kossoff, Norma Marla, Francis De Wolff, and Joy Webster
Composers: Monty Norman and David Heneker
Release Date: 10/24/1960
MPAA Rating: Not Rated
Desperate to reveal the wicked side of man, Dr. Henry Jekyll (Paul Massie) consumes an experimental formula. Learning of an affair between his wife Kitty (Dawn Addams) and a scoundrel named Paul Allen (Christopher Lee), Jekyll—now transformed into the vile Mr. Edward Hyde—adopts the persona of a cruel womanizer, with a terrible outcome.
Forgoing the creepy atmosphere of Hammer’s Dracula and the tragic undertones from The Curse of the Werewolf, The Two Faces of Dr. Jekyll offers a dull and pretentious update on Robert Louis Stevenson’s 1886 novella. This production does, however, deserve credit for its unique depiction of the contrast between Jekyll and Hyde.
Despite overacting at times, Paul Massie should be commended for his dual performance as Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. Especially worth praising are the civilized and attractive qualities of Massie’s Hyde, who, in a surprising character twist, manages to captivate others with his good looks and devilish charm.
Though supposedly the epitome of man’s evil nature, Mr. Hyde fails to embody the malevolence that many associate with his personality. In fact, Hyde never commits a single act of violence before exhausting other means to achieve his goals (e.g., blackmailing Paul Allen into ending his relationship with Kitty), causing him to appear somewhat reasonable in spite of his obnoxious manner—a factor that serves to undermine Hyde’s credibility as a murderous fiend.
The Two Faces of Dr. Jekyll may likewise evoke criticism for its intolerable pacing and lack of suspense, which detract heavily from the horror aspect of this film.
Showcasing Hyde as an appealing, charismatic figure while reinventing Jekyll as a boring individual, this film presents the face of evil as a tempting alternative to the face of good—an accurate representation of the human struggle with morality.
The Two Faces of Dr. Jekyll is a mediocre entry in Hammer’s lineup of Gothic horror and science fiction films. Notably, this offering—while benefiting from an original twist on a classic narrative—is marred by a languid execution.
Overall Quality: 6/10
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