Dr. Jekyll And Mr. Hyde (1941)(Blu-ray Review)

Warner Archive Collection’s May output contains a pretty interesting release that feels surprisingly not in the Blu-ray catalog already despite such big names attached to it. Directed by Victor Fleming seems pretty notable enough. The fact that its his follow up to Gone With The Wind another. Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde boasts the cast of Spencer Tracy, Ingrid Bergman and Lana Turner. All of them playing against type. Two of them probably would be enough to push the needle. Nonetheless, its arriving on the format for the first time on May 17th. The disc features a new HD restoration from the best surviving elements and the original trailer comes with it. You can pre-order yourself a copy using the paid Amazon Associate’s link that follows the review.



Laurence Olivier once observed that he “learned more about acting from watching [Spencer] Tracy than in any other way.” Undertaking the dual title role in Robert Louis Stevenson’s Victorian science-fiction thriller, Tracy fulfilled that compliment by abandoning his characteristic down-to-earth image for the most terrifying portrayal of his career. Also cast “against type” are “Sweater Sweetheart” Lana Turner as Jekyll’s fiancée and Ingrid Bergman, who plays Hyde’s victimized Cockney mistress. Tracy and director Victor Fleming (Gone with the Wind) decided to break with convention by interpreting Hyde from a Freudian perspective instead of portraying him as the usual physically grotesque monster, and he emerges as a menacing distortion of the sexually frustrated Jekyll. To Tracy fans, this amazing piece of virtuosity will come as an unforgettable revelation.

Victor Fleming’s exquisitely directed take on the Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde story is quite the lovely star studded affair. Fleming takes care of its elegant look and playback while he seems to allow his stars to control a scene. The film finds itself with some high drama that lends itself to some more suspenseful horror even without the nifty lighting, sets and make-up for added effect. Where you grip at your seat is built through the dramas and interactions of these character and just the mere hint of a scene’s set up.

Said performers that carry this are a buzzy lot for 1941. Leading the charge is Spencer Tracy. Tracy here is playing against type. Normally thought of for his romantic/screwball comedy chops, this is quite a different turn. Even as Dr. Jekyll he’s pretty straight laced and that in turn helps to lead one into his Mr. Hyde. And while showing some restraint, you can tell he is gleefully relishing in playing this monster. Supporting him in different ways are Lana Turner and Ingrid Bergman. Bergman perhaps adds the most to it as she has a touching performance with a character more down her life than Turner’s more traditional partner. Bergman adds a lot of weight to the character that I’m guessing wasn’t quite on paper, really elevating this little horror flick.

Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde almost feels like Victor Fleming attempting to take the popular Universal Monster movies of the time and trying to make the serious drama for adults version of them. None too different than something of a movie like Wolf for its time. The cast is game and somewhat against type which is fun. And since Fleming trusts in them, he’s allowed to flourish in other areas. Its quite a well put together film and a fascinating one to travel back and discover.


Encoding: MPEG-4 AVC

Resolution: 1080p

Aspect Ratio: 1.37:1

Layers: BD-50

Clarity/Detail: Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde debuts on Blu-ray from Warner Archive Collection with a brand new 2022 1080pHD Master from 4K scan of best surviving preservation elements. And to the surprise of no one, its beautiful. The black and white image is well saturated with a crisp look at all the details and textures in the frame. This is one of those old movies made to look young again by way of likely good storage and restoration.

Depth:  Good depth of field work here, though a very intimate enclosed feeling movie, the rooms definitely show some room to breath with push back and free roaming characters. Movements are natural and smooth with no issues of distortion on display.

Black Levels: Blacks are deep and near natural levels. Their contrast really brings out a crispness to the look of the film as well as showcasing some great looks at texture and patterns. No crushing witnessed.

Color Reproduction: N/A

Flesh Tones: Skin tones carry that gray/white look to them and hold strong with no flicker or anything throughout the runtime. Facial information and texture comes through quite clear from any reasonable camera distance in the frame.

Noise/Artifacts: None


Audio Format(s): English 2.0 Mono DTS-HD MA

Subtitles: English SDH

Dynamics: Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde comes with a really clean sounding and crisp audio track for its age. Vocals have a really nice presence in this balanced mix that really has good layering and depth to these effects and scoring. Overall, one of the better presentations from Warner Archive on a film of this age. Perhaps its source was in excellent condition.

Height: N/A

Low Frequency Extension: N/A

Surround Sound Presentation: N/A

Dialogue Reproduction: Vocals are clear and crisp.


Trailer (HD, 3:43)


Victor Fleming’s Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde is a nice slice of classic horror from the early 1940s that boasts itself a pretty big cast of leads to watch play in that wheelhouse. Warner Archive Collection has restored it with a gorgeous transfer and really well done cleaned up audio for a boffo presentation. Unfortunately, we’re only left with a trailer to check out after the credits. But, its nice to see the grand work being done on films of this ilk and their availability on the physical format.

This is a paid Amazon Associates link


Brandon is the host, producer, writer and editor of The Brandon Peters Show (thebrandonpetersshow.com). He is also the Moderator/MC of the Live Podcast Stage and on the Podcast Awards Committee for PopCon (popcon.us). In the past 10 years at Why So Blu, Brandon has amassed over 1,500 reviews of 4K, Blu-ray and DVD titles.

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