The Two Faces of Dr. Jekyll (Terence Fisher / United Kingdom, 1960):

Henry Jekyll watches the "dumb human animals" and develops a serum to reach "beyond good and evil," Mr. Hyde scoops up the first tart in the tavern -- Paul Massie sports a scraggly beard and a Byronic forehead as the doctor, his creature is a cad with a smooth jaw and a heavy-lipped grin. The metamorphosis looks ahead to the oily leer of Buddy Love, though the tradition behind Terence Fisher’s version of the Stevenson story is actually British bedroom farce, so dry and subtle that reviewers could only complain about the "lack of horror." Jekyll’s buried urges come out as Hyde clutches a wench and bludgeons a bouncer, his wife (Dawn Addams) is meeting her lover (Christopher Lee) in the same saloon. Back to his tame self, the doctor contemplates his beloved in bed. "The woman inside you, is that woman my wife?" "Henry, I’m tired." Hyde goes on a tour of London’s decadent pit stops (underground prizefights, opium dens, gypsy pubs), yet his suddenly tantalizing spouse remains out of reach. The man who cannot touch his own wife receives Fisher’s lurid hues, while the extramarital couple, "shocked into morality," is given pure, romantic whites; the snake-swallowing odalisque (Norma Marla) figures in the rich joke of a drab husband trying to reclaim his stature through mania and murder. "Is there anywhere a man who simply takes?" "We English never know what we feel, my dear." Wolf Mankowitz’s screenplay is one of his wittiest, Fisher visualizes it opulently (the nightclub’s frosted skylight becomes a glowing infernal gulf, beckoning Addams to her fall). Hyde’s bedroom-hopping scheme completes the roundelay, for the benefit of Blake Edwards and Alan Ayckbourn. With David Kossoff, Francis De Wollff, Oliver Reed, and Janina Faye.

--- Fernando F. Croce

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