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Film / The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde (1968)

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The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde is a Made-for-TV Movie released in 1968, based on the Robert Louis Stevenson novel of the same name. The film was released as part of ABC's The Wide World of Mystery, and was a Canadian/American co-production. Jack Palance stars as Dr. Henry Jekyll, and the film was directed by Charles Jarrott.

In 1888 London, Dr. Jekyll has proposed a controversial theory to his peers: that good and evil are two separate entities fighting for control of the human body. When his attempts to obtain funding to isolate the two halves is scoffed by the scientific community, Jekyll resorts to using himself as human guinea pig for his experiments. Upon drinking his potion, Jekyll forms a split personality in the hedonistic and wild Mr. Hyde. Hyde initially provides an outlet for Jekyll to indulge in his long repressed urges, thanks to his constant visits to the local burlesque house and it's resident dancer Gwyn Thomas. However, Hyde's antics take a turn for the worst as he commits wanton murder across those who cross him. As Jekyll attempts to cover his tracks, his transformations become uncontrollable and the law begins to close in on Hyde as he turns against the people in Jekyll's life.

The film provides examples of:

  • Adaptational Name Change: Utterson becomes George Devlin.
  • Backstab Backfire: Even though the gun-toting Devlin allows him to leave, Hyde still attempts to attack him. Devlin mortally wounds him.
  • Blackmail Backfire: Chemist Stryker realizes the connection and tries to blackmail Jekyll for money. Jekyll deliberately transforms into Hyde and murders Stryker.
  • Blaming the Victim: This is how Jekyll downplays the murder of Gwyn, calling her a trollop as if it makes her insignificant.
  • Book Ends: The story begins and ends at the Operating Theatre.
  • Must Let Them Get Away: Devlin decides to let Hyde go, reasoning that Hyde can't help what he is, but Jekyll is the guilty one. Hyde ruins this chance.
  • Not Quite Dead: The mortally wounded Hyde falls into the center of the Operating Theatre. Devlin comes closer to the body, only to get neck grabbed by Hyde. Fortunately he completely expires before doing any actual harm.
  • Setting Update: In contrast to the Ambiguous Time Period of the original book that is the Victorian Era, that being the extent of our knowledge, the film is set in 1888, two years after the book was published and when Jack the Ripper walked into history.
  • Sword Cane: Hyde uses a rapier concealed in a cane as his signature weapon. When he's not stabbing with his sword, Hyde usually resorts to beating people to death with his cane instead.
  • What Did I Do Last Night?: Jekyll wakes up in his bed in a groggy stupor after drinking his potion for the first time. He resorts to scrounging through his lab to find out what happened the night before, learning that he paid a visit to the local burlesque house under the identity of "Mr. Hyde".