The Son of Dr. Jekyll

09/30/2021 06:42

Film: The Son of Dr. Jekyll

Year: 1951

Director: Seymour Friedman

Writer: Mortimer Braus and Jack Pollexfen

Starring: Louis Hayward, Jody Lawrence and Alexander Knox



This was a movie that I’ll be honest, I didn’t know existed. When I looked into this movie, I figured out this is a sequel to the John Barrymore Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde from 1920. I was curious what they were going to do with this movie as it came out after Universal had their run of sequels to the classic horror films. To get into this movie, the son of the notorious Dr. Henry Jekyll (Louis Hayward) is determined to prove that his father’s reputation has been unjustly deserved. He sets out to develop his father’s formula in order to prove that he was a brilliant scientist rather than a murderous monster.

For this movie, we start at the end of the original movie. Mr. Hyde (Hayward) flees from a mob of people. He makes his way into the laboratory of Dr. Jekyll in an attempt to change back from the form he currently is in. Before he can, a torch is thrown through the window and it causes a fire. Mr. Hyde cannot get out and goes up to the third floor where he falls to his death.

Looking over his body are his two friends, Dr. Curtis Lanyon (Alexander Knox) and Sir John Utterson (Lester Matthews). They’re called to an apartment by Inspector Grey (Matthew Boulton). This place belonged to a young woman that Mr. Hyde was seeing. There is a baby with the former actress being the mother who was killed by Mr. Hyde, it is also his child. The two men decide they’re going to keep the child. Dr. Lanyon states he isn’t in the right place to take the child so it falls on John.

The movie then shifts from 1860 to 1890. Edward Jekyll is an adult who is seeing John’s niece Lynn Utterson (Jody Lawrance). We get an interesting scene where an editor for a newspaper, Richard Daniels (Gavin Muir), is talking to a reporter where they learn the history of Edward and about him being kicked out of the Royal Science Academy from a note that was delivered. It then takes over there as Edward proposes to Lynn.

We also get to see Dr. Lanyon speaking with John. They are trying to devise a way to convince Edward to allow Dr. Lanyon to continue to handle the estate of Dr. Jekyll. Their fear is Edward learning of who he truly is, because as far as they knows, Edward doesn’t know his last name at is actually Jekyll. When they approach the subject with him, he isn’t one to shy away from controversy. He instead wants to clear the name of his father.

This leads to him getting the key from Dr. Lanyon and going to his father’s lab. A constable believes him to be a trespasser. Edward clears up the problem and he sees a blonde woman. She interrupts him while reading a book written by his father as she needs help, but when he goes to a police officer, the woman is gone. The constable thinks that Edward’s eyes are playing tricks on him.

Edward is given the money from his father’s estate and goes about fixing up the house as well as the laboratory. Dr. Lanyon stops by to help and brings him the notes from his father’s experiment. This gives him the idea of performing the same experience to show how brilliant his father is. This instead leads him to sleepless nights and grief to get the experiment right. We see though that Dr. Lanyon might be secretly helping him. The problem though is that this could lead him to turning into a monster like his father and when acts of violence around London start to happen, they point toward Edward.

That is where I’m going to leave my review. Where I want to start is that I think we get an interesting story here that is a follow up to the classic silent film. What I like is that we are doing something similar while also doing its own thing. Edward is following in his father’s footsteps. We aren’t getting a mad scientist movie here though. We know that Edward is a good guy, he’s just a bit outspoken. You don’t need to see the original movie to enjoy this one and I think a lot of that is the fact it is a classic story. I bring that up here since everyone knows about what Mr. Hyde did. For this movie, Edward wants to clear his father’s name to show that he wasn’t the monster that we know.

Going from him wanting to prove that, we have the reporters and the citizens of London bothering Edward. The reporters want him to be the monster that his father was. They even rile him up to get a reaction out of him. I think this is an interesting commentary to what we see in the news now. Bad news sells so that is what they’re pushing. The citizens are interesting as they fear Edward, because of who his father is. They assume that he must be the same. They go into the mob mentality multiple times in this movie and I think there’s some commentary there as well.

With that out of the way, where I want to go next would be what this movie is about. Edward has many sleepless nights trying to recreate his father’s experiment. We get to see that he succeeds with a little help from Dr. Lanyon. He decides to do a demonstration, but when it fails he is bummed. Edward does go visit a family who live in the apartment his mother lived in to learn more about her. There is an attack on a boy who broke a window in the Jekyll lab. Edward is the suspect and this turns into him needing to clear his name as well. I found this to be quite interesting to be honest. This ends up becoming a different variation that even though we think people are good, they can harbor a dark side that makes them do things we wouldn’t expect.

The last thing that I want to go over would be plot holes. I don’t believe that Dr. Jekyll was becoming Mr. Hyde long enough for a baby to be born. I can overlook this, but it changes things to allow it to work for this movie. I’m also not sure how the movie is resolved makes complete sense. There are some liberties taken to agree that the person who is guilty is believed immediately. Again, it doesn’t ruin the movie, but things I noticed.

I think that next should be acting. Hayward is solid as Edward. He briefly takes on Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde as well, but Edward is the character he is mostly. I like how he is concerned with his heritage and it gives him purpose. I feel bad for him as he is framed for committing these crimes. Knowing this is a Jekyll/Hyde movie, it makes me wonder if he is behind it. His performance is solid. I think that Knox does a solid job as Dr. Lanyon and Matthews as John. Lawrence is interesting to me as Lynn, but she disappears for a good portion of the movie. I think they could have done a bit more to flesh her out as she is just there to support Edward. Aside from that, the rest of the cast is solid in directing our characters to where they end up.

Then the last things to go over would be the cinematography, effects and soundtrack. For the former, I think it is fine. They don’t do much with camera movement or angles, but I don’t have any issues either. We do get a transformation scene though and I was thoroughly impressed there. They used time lapse and I can appreciate that. The brief look of Mr. Hyde worked for me. As for the soundtrack, I think it fit the movie for what was needed.

So then in conclusion here, I actually enjoyed this movie more than I thought I would. I think we get an interesting idea here to continue on from the story in the original classic. It brings a lot of aspects while doing its own story to the point where you don’t need to see it since you probably know enough about the tale. The acting is solid to me where Hayward and Knox carry this with the rest of the cast directing them. The cinematography is fine, the effects we get are solid and the soundtrack fits for what they needed. Overall I would say this is an above average movie in my opinion. I’m coming in higher than most, but it just clicked with me.


My Rating: 7.5 out of 10