THE SON OF DR. JEKYLL (1951) Reviews and overview

   

The Son of Doctor Jekyll is a 1951 horror feature film in which Jekyll Jr. tries to prove that his father’s reputation was unjustly deserved. He sets out to recreate his father’s formula in order to prove that he was a brilliant scientist rather than a murderous monster.

Directed by Seymour Friedman from a ‘story’ co-written by Jack Pollexfen ((The Neanderthal ManCaptive WomenThe Man from Planet X), Mortimer Braus and (uncredited) Edward Huebsch. The plot is a continuation of Robert Louis Stevenson’s original classic novella Strange Case of Doctor Jekyll and Mr. Hyde.

The movie stars Louis Hayward, Jody Lawrance, Lester Matthews and Alexander Knox.

Jack Pollexfen, the scriptwriter of this film, wrote and produced a further sequel in the same vein, The Daughter of Dr Jekyll in 1957 starring Gloria Talbott.

Plot:

The film begins with a prologue set in 1860, where Mr Hyde is chased down in the streets of London, after murdering his wife at their Soho flat. He escapes to the house of Doctor Jekyll, where he prepares the potion that will transform him back to the respected doctor. Unfortunately, the mob has already set the house ablaze. The flames drive Hyde at the top floor, and in an attempt to leap to the ground, he meets his demise when he falls to the ground. As he dies, he changes back to Jekyll.

John Utterson and Doctor Lanyon (original characters from Stevenson’s novel) mourn their unfortunate friend Doctor Jekyll until Inspector Stoddard brings the two to the Soho flat, where Jekyll/Hyde has left a baby behind. Utterson agrees to adopt the young Jekyll since he and his wife haven’t succeeded in having children.

Thirty years later, Edward Jekyll, now fiance to Utterson’s niece Lynn and a student of Royal Academy of Science, is expelled from the academy because of his peculiar and unorthodox experiments. Edward is unaware that he is actually Henry Jekyll’s son, and when he inherits the Jekyll Mansion, Doctor Lanyon tells him his tragic father’s story…

Reviews [click links to read more]:

“Much to the disappointment of the audience, Eddie Jekyll never turns into Hyde, no matter how hard he and Lanyon try to re-create the original doctor’s experiments. Thus, Son of Doctor Jekyll can scarcely be designated a horror film…” AllMovie

“Photography, art direction, costumes and overall production values are quite good, most of the acting is fine and great use is made of moody, shadowy noir lighting throughout. Where this film is unexpectedly strongest however is in its depiction of a judgmental society unwilling to let go of the past. A full thirty years after the original Hyde murders, the gossipy townsfolk just can’t let it go and have no issue persecuting an innocent man simply for moving into his late father’s home.” The Bloody Pit of Horror

“Perhaps director Seymour Friedman doesn’t quite capitalise as much as he might on the central mystery, revealing Lanyon as the culprit with a bit of a nod and a wink towards the audience rather than delaying the big reveal. He does, however, nicely develop the characters and ambience of writers Mortimer Braus and Jack Pollexfen’s story, which in turn provides a cinematic playground of gothic London which almost becomes a character in its own right.” Classic Monsters

“It ends up as rather contrived, but reasonably entertaining hokum with okay performances and good, moody black and white cinematography by Henry Freulich. But the production values and screenplay are fairly feeble, and horror movie shocks and scares are desperately scarce.” Derek Winnert

“This movie starts out with a bang; enjoy it while you can. As for the rest of the movie, however, I could live without it. Not that it’s badly acted; actually, the acting throughout is quite good. The problem is that the movie promises certain types of thrills and then substitutes a series of mediocre and disappointing mundanities in their place.” Fantastic Movie Musings and Ramblings

“Although the film retains some level of credibility for the first half-hour, the ridiculous contrivances pile up quickly after that, demanding a higher level of suspension of disbelief that the average viewer can hope to attain […] Actually, there’s some critique about the workings of the gutter press and mob rule here, but, not to worry, it’s buried pretty deep beneath the overall silliness.” Mark David Welsh

Son is a simplistic melodrama, particularly in terms of its execution of Edward’s daddy issues– though I was amused at one character indirectly invoking Hamlet by speaking to the hero of his “father’s ghost.”  However, I give it a fair mythicity rating in the sociological department, because of its emphasis on the scurrilous nature of mob mania.  Edward is less of a monster than London, with its ruthless journalists and scummy blackmailers.” Naturalistic! Uncanny! Marvelous!

“Throwing in a red herring or two serves to keep the audience on its toes, but this film is like a school of fish in an aquarium and the audience is pulled in so many directions that it finally doesn’t know what it is watching. This said, there is a laudable attempt here at turning the tables, making not Jekyll/Hyde the monster ravaging society, but rather making society the monster turning Jekyll into Hyde.” Scifist

The Son of Doctor Jekyll is elegant, big on dialogue, and contains a fair amount of fistfights, but it is not as romantic, tense, and dark as returning audiences would expect. Don’t wait for cool make-up or other special effects either. The ending will make or break your appreciation of the story.” Tales of Terror

“The transformation itself is rather well done on the smallish budget and is reminiscent of the Fredric March version. The movie isn’t really about monster transformations and murders.  It’s more about dealing with an unwanted family legacy and coming out of your father’s shadow.  In that respect; it works.” The Video Vacuum

Cast and characters:

Louis Hayward … Edward Jekyll / Doctor Henry Jekyll / Mr Hyde
Jody Lawrance … Lynn Utterson
Alexander Knox … Doctor Curtis Lanyon
Lester Matthews … Sir John Utterson
Gavin Muir … Editor Richard Daniels
Paul Cavanagh … Inspector Stoddard
Rhys Williams … Michaels, the butler
Victor Adamson … Coachman (uncredited)
Patrick Aherne … Tenement Landlord (uncredited)
Benita Booth … Woman (uncredited)
Matthew Boulton … Inspector Grey (uncredited)
Hamilton Camp … William Bennett (uncredited)
Claire Carleton … Hazel Sorelle (uncredited)
Wheaton Chambers … Magistrate (uncredited)
David Cole … Copy Boy (uncredited)
Leslie Denison … Constable (uncredited)
David Dunbar … Man in Bar (uncredited)
Betty Fairfax … Woman in Window (uncredited)
Frank Hagney … Man in Bar (uncredited)
Alec Harford … Clerk (uncredited)
Holmes Herbert … Constable (uncredited)
Keith Hitchcock … Constable (uncredited)
Robin Hughes … Alec – Roommate (uncredited)
Olaf Hytten … Prosecutor (uncredited)
Joyce Jameson … Barmaid (uncredited)
Stapleton Kent … Mr Arnim – Proprietor (uncredited)
Guy Kingsford … Male Nurse (uncredited)
Bruce Lester … Daniels’ Reporter (uncredited)
Doris Lloyd … Lottie Sorelle (uncredited)
James Logan … Constable (uncredited)
Jimmie Long … Bit Role (uncredited)
Ola Lorraine … Woman (uncredited)
Ida MacGill … Woman (uncredited)
Harry Martin … Detective (uncredited)
Phyllis Morris … Tea Woman (uncredited)
Leonard Mudie … Pharmacist (uncredited)
Ottola Nesmith … Nurse (uncredited)
Vesey O’Davoren … Utterson’s Butler (uncredited)
Patrick O’Moore … Joe Sorelle (uncredited)
Bob Reeves … Bit Role (uncredited)
Carol Savage … Young Woman (uncredited)

Technical details:

78 minutes

Release:

Released in the United States by Columbia Pictures on October 31, 1951.