Dr. Jekyll and Sister Hyde
Albert Fennell, Brian Clemens for Hammer
directed by Roy Ward Baker
starring Ralph Bates, Martine Beswick, Gerald Sim, Lewis Fiander, Susan Brodrick, Dorothy Alison, Ivor Dean, Philip Madoc, Irene Bradshaw, Neil Wilson, Paul Whitsun-Jones, Tony Calvin, Dan Meaden, Virginia Wetherell, Geoffrey Kenion, Anna Brett, Jackie Poole, Rosemary Lord, Petula Portell, Pat Brackenbury, Liz Romanoff, Will Stampe, Roy Evans, Derek Steen, John Lyons, Jeannette Wild, Bobby Parr, Julia Wright
screenplay by Brian Clemens, based on the novel The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde by Robert Louis Stevenson, music by David Whitaker, song I'll be There by Brian Clemens, music supervisor: Philip Martell
Jekyll and Hyde, Jack the Ripper, Burke and Hare
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Doctor Jekyll (Ralph Bates) wants to create a super antivirus, an
antivirus that is supposed to work against all known diseases at once.
However, when he comes to the conclusion that this would take more than a
lifetime, he searches for a drug to prolong life infinitely instead - and
soon comes to the conclusion that the answer lies in female hormones. Yet
when he tries his wonderdrug on himself, the results are not quite what he
had expected, because instead of turning immortal, he becomes a woman, Mrs
Hyde (Martine Beswick) - talk about an experiment gone wrong ...
totally messes up Jekyll's lovelife for one, because while he is in a
chaste almost-relationship with beautiful neighbour Susan (Susan
Brodrick), Mrs Hyde soon starts having sex with Susan's brother Mortimer
(Lewis Fiander) on a regular basis.
Despite all this confusion, Jekyll
is convinced he's on the right track to create an immortality drug, but
for that he needs more female hormones, and since women are not likely to
give them away like that, he hires notorious graverobbers Burke (Ivor
Dean) and Hare (Tony Calvin) to help out, and doesn't even mind that the
terrible duo sometimes do some killing instead of robbing graves to keep
their business floating.
Burke and Hare are not exactly popular among
the populace though, and eventually they are lynched by a mob of angry
Londoners - which means that Jekyll will have to take care of his supply
of female corpses himself from now on ... and thus he starts killing
prostitutes and is soon dubbed Jack the Ripper.
Jekyll's best friend,
pathologist Professor Robertson (Gerald Sim), soon grows suspicious about the injuries
the Jack the Ripper-victims show, and he has Jekyll's lab put under surveillance - but not
in a way that Jekyll doesn't notice, so he just turns into Mrs Hyde to go
out and does his killings as her. And when Robertson grows suspicious of
her in the process, she pretends to seduce him but ultimately kills him.
the end though, all of Jekyll and Hyde's trickery adds up to very little
and he/she is chased through the streets of Whitechapel by an angry mob
and ultimately falls off the roof in the process, turning from Hyde to
Jekyll during the fall.
This film has several things going for
it: The gender-change approach to Robert Louis Stevenson's often filmed
novel is certainly original, and the fact that it's not done merely for
laughs (despite a light-hearted treatment of the plot) does work for the
movie. Also Ralph Bates and Martine Beswick compliment each other
beautifully as Jekyll and Hyde, and once certainly cannot deny the charme
of Hammer's Victorian era sets. That all said though, the film is
at the same time less than perfect, its story repeatedly seems to go
nowhere, many subplots are picked up and abandoned rather at will, and the
script as such could have done with a re-write to make it more stringent.
Still, an amusing film, not perfect maybe, but totally watchable.