The Strange Case of the Man and the Beast
the strange case of the man and the beast | mario soffici | carlos marin | ulises petit de murat | ana maria compoy | olga zubarry | based on | novel | robert louis stevenson | remake | dr. jekyll and mr. hyde | sci-fi | argentina | jose cibrian | martha atoche
Film: The Strange Case of the Man and the Beast (El extraño caso del hombre y la bestia)
Director: Mario Soffici
Writer: Carlos Marín, Ulises Petit de Murat and Mario Soffici
Starring: Mario Soffici, Ana María Campoy and Olga Zubarry
This was a movie that I didn’t know existed, but found it when going through Letterboxd for movies that were from 1951 in the horror genre. It took a bit of searching, but I found someone who was selling DVDs of this movie so I bought a copy to check out. It wasn’t until I turned it on that I realized this is another take on the Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde story from Robert Louis Stevenson. This is also a movie from Argentina which is interesting on top of it. The synopsis here though is Dr. Henry Jekyll (Mario Soffici) experiments with scientific means of revealing the hidden, dark side of man and releases a murderer from within himself.
We start this movie off by getting some text about this strange story being born from a mysterious and hallucinatory dream from Stevenson. It has a timeless feel and can take place in any city. It then takes us to this movie’s version of Utterson going by the name of Mr. Anderson (José Cibrián) with another guy as they talk about a poster for a play that he is producing and a door. From it was Mr. Hyde (Soffici) that appears. We get an interesting look at life in South America where they are more religious. The poster is for a play that defied this. He hates it, but still produces it despite it pushing a more existential look at life. I found this interesting as someone who has views that fall in with this ideology.
The movie then shifts us over to people walking along a street at night. There is a little girl who clings to a man’s leg. He knocks her down and kicks her. A mob of people come up, calling him a monster. The man is Mr. Hyde. Dr. Dayon (Frederico Mansilla) appears and defends him. The little girl is unhurt, mostly just being scared. Mr. Hyde tries to rectify the situation by stating he will pay a large sum of money to her family. The sum of 2,000 pesos is life altering for them.
From here, we get familiar beats that we know from this classic story. I’ll get into why I’m going a bit vague. Mr. Hyde enjoys the darker parts of life and visits a beautiful dancer named Lola (Olga Zubbary). Mr. Hyde does end up murdering a man with a cane. It is found and they search his apartment out. Dr. Jekyll tried to remove this darker part of his personality, but we know that it backfired by allowing it to come out. He and his wife Sara (Ana María Campoy) have a child, Enriquito (Panchita Lombard). It pushes him even harder to prevent Mr. Hyde from returning. The problem is though; he’s able to come out without the aid of serum.
That is where I’m going to leave my recap for this movie. What I’m going to bring up here first is that my DVD didn’t have subtitles for a good twenty minutes. I was lost in what was being said, but as I was telling Jaime, I’m familiar with the story so I was able to keep up to an extent with what was going on. I don’t recall seeing Dr. Jekyll actually becoming Mr. Hyde. I also didn’t realize that this movie has a jump of about four years. It adds an interesting dimension that Dr. Jekyll started his experiment before being a father and it pushes him to find a cure.
Since this is a familiar tale that most everyone knows, you need to do something different. What I will give credit to here is that it comes from a country that doesn’t have a lot of movies coming from it in Argentina. What I like as well is that being from South America; we are incorporating more of the belief system that is more religious. There are multiple times that they refer to Mr. Hyde as a devil where the good in us as an angel. I’ve already said that I’m not religious, but I don’t mind this being incorporated here. I also like the added element that Dr. Jekyll has a child that he loves more than anything. They use this to try to get into the laboratory and it also leads to the ending we get. What I don’t like though is that Dr. Jekyll seems to be more in control than other takes. I don’t like this as it feels like Mr. Hyde is trying to solve the cure for his own demise.
That should be enough for the story, so I’ll move over to the acting. I’ll be honest, since this movie is less seen, the Internet Movie Database page doesn’t state who is who. Thankfully, Letterboxd had a bit more information. Soffici does good as Dr. Jekyll and as well as Mr. Hyde. We get to see the duality of the character and it worked. I’d also say that the rest of the cast worked for what was needed in driving this character to where they need to end up.
What I was impressed with was the effects. We have Dr. Jekyll with hair and a beard. Mr. Hyde is bald and looks animalistic. The teeth and the fingers aren’t what we would consider normal. Something that impressed me more were the transforms. The first couple changes we get are hidden in shadows, which I’m fine with. I give credit to them for doing something there. We even get one later in the movie that shows Hyde back to Jekyll as well. This worked for me. I’ll also give credit to the cinematography here on top of that.
So then in conclusion, I don’t think there’s more I need to delve into for this movie. It is an interesting take on this familiar story. I’m glad that they incorporated more of their beliefs. What doesn’t work though is that Dr. Jekyll seems to be a bit more in control, which doesn’t necessarily make sense. The acting though is solid in being the characters and pushing Dr. Jekyll/Mr. Hyde to where they need to end up. I was impressed with the transformation scene and the look of Mr. Hyde. Aside from that, the soundtrack fit for what was needed without standing out. I would say that this is just over average for me. It is lacking for me to go higher.
My Rating: 6 out of 10