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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars get it for the 1932 version, 3 Jun 2011
By 
rob crawford "Rob Crawford" (Balmette Talloires, France) - See all my reviews
(TOP 1000 REVIEWER)   
This dvd is an excellent deal. Ever since I was an avid child reader of Famous Monsters of Filmland, I had wanted to see the 1932 version of J&H but never could. I poured over the pictures because Hyde looked like a combination of ape and werewolf, yet full of human malice, even what today I would label as lust. The images mesmerized me, even the victim, who looked so different from the chaste versions of the Tracy film and others. I now see that that was because she was frankly portrayed as a "girl of the night", before the censors required their blandness and genericized portraits.

Having finally seen the 32 version, I must say it was worth the wait. March shows fabulous dexterity as an actor, morphing into Hyde and holding himself as in a complete transformation, in between human and animal. It is the most believable transformation of any J&H film. But there is a difference to this film, early as it was when talking films had just established themselves as mainstream, a rawness in which the voice of an auteur can clearly be heard; this is one of the things that attracts me to silent films: you can perceive and feel that directors are creating an entire new medium, that they are experimenting as they go along, before the establishment of stock formulas and conventions. I love this vitality of discovery and invention. To be sure, that can make them clunky or even slow, but at their best there can be a freshness to them that Hollywood has all but lost. It helps that the "standards" of decency were not yet imposed, which made the naturalism of the portrayal of gutter London far more compelling in this film version. The victim is obviously a prostitute.

Now, the 41 version offers a striking contrast: the seamy side of London is idiotically toned down, even the "bad girl" (Ingrid Bergman) appears clean and almost perky, if flirtatious. There is not a jot of honest sexuality to her. Tracy is not a complete dud as J&H, but he walks through the role in a lifeless way, clearly just going through the motions as required by his studio contract; there is no vitality to him, nothing believable or genuine. The directing is also rather indifferent, like it comes from a committee - feeling similar to the way that films are pasted together by marketing departments these days - rather than from a director's mind. As such, the film has little voice and is mere formula.

This is a great box set. It could be used in film history classes to show what hollywood lost in the intervening period. I am sure I will watch the 32 version many times, but not the 41.

Recommended with enthusiasm.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars buy it., 24 Feb 2009
By 
2 versions of the classic story and both very good in contrasting ways.
The 1st, Frederic March version is pre-Hays code Hollywood, which has a subtle but undeniable sadism about it. Spencer Tracy's portrayal has not
aged as well and suffers in comparison, but is by no means bad.

Most people know the bare bones of the story but don't let that disuade you from buying it. Universal were not the only studio making classic horror in those days. Great value.
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