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  • Writer's pictureAbby Brenker

The Best Adaptations of Dr. Jekyll & Mr. Hyde

As we’ve just released the History of Jekyll and Hyde on Lunatics Radio Hour, I thought it made sense to comment on some of the good (and terrible) versions of Jekyll and Hyde. Alan and I watched oh so many for research in the last few weeks, and boy do we have opinions.

Jekyll and Hyde The Musical (1990) Let’s start with a version that spans good and bad. The musical stars David Hasselhoff as both Jekyll and Hyde. Some of the songs are quite catchy! What a wild and strange concept. Perfect for a fun group watch with some musical theater friends.

Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde (1931) There are many versions of this story with this name, but we are talking about the 1931 version here. Deemed one of the very best by Alan. However, I do owe you all a redaction because this is NOT the Universal version (as I said on the episode). This is a version by Paramount. It’s a pre-code Horror film that stars Frederic March. It was nominated for THREE Academy Awards and March won for best actor. Though, content warning on this one.

Mary Reilly (1996) Starring our beloved Julia Roberts and John Malcovich. It was based on a novel by the same name from 1990, written by Valerie Martin. It’s a re-telling of J&H through the eyes of Mary, a maid in the Jekyll household. Unlike the earlier versions of the story, this film was a box office flop, despite its big name talent. It only made back $12M of its $47M budget.

The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen (2003) Again, deemed one of the best versions both by Alan and our Instagram poll. This film stars the striking Jason Flemyng as Jekyll and Hyde. The film remains incredibly popular and is a bit reminiscent of our next pick.

The Hulk There are too many versions of The Hulk to point you in one clear direction, but you’re familiar with Bruce Banner. Whether you watch one of his solo films Hulk from 2003 or The Incredible Hulk from 2008, or any of his Marvel appearances, you will be getting a super hero version of our beloved Jekyll and Hyde.

Split (2016) If you haven’t seen Split, it’s a M. Night Shyamalan film starring James McAvoy. An extreme split personality story: Three girls are kidnapped by a man with a diagnosed 23 distinct personalities. They must try to escape before the apparent emergence of a frightful new 24th.

Abbott and Costello Meet Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde (1953) For a more comedic take on the classic story, Abbott and Costello never disappoint. And this version stars the one and only Boris Karloff as Jekyll and Hyde.

Dr. Jekyll and Sister Hyde (1971) A bonus shout out goes to this film, which I have not seen. But the concept seems fun! The idea is that Jekyll becomes a murderess when transforming to “Hyde.”

A lot of the J&H adaptations can be a bit…dry. For the most part, these all bring something fresh or interesting to the story. Do enjoy! And tell me what I’ve missed!


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