THE TWO FACES OF DR. JEKYLL. Hammer Films, UK, 1960. Also released in the US as House of Fright and Jekyll’s Inferno. Based on the 1886 novella “Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde,” by Robert Louis Stevenson. Paul Massie (Dr. Henry Jekyll / Mr. Edward Hyde), Dawn Addams, Christopher Lee, David Kossoff, Norma Marla, Francis De Wolff, Joy Webster. Director: Terence Fisher.

   Hammer’s The Two Faces of Dr. Jekyll isn’t a particularly good film, but it’s one I’d nevertheless recommend watching. Not so much for the screenplay or the direction – both competent but no more – but for the production design and the aesthetic, the sets that don’t remotely look like sets, the color scheme, the sense of otherworldliness.

   These, as much as the acting, are what make Hammer Films worth viewing. Somehow, on their somewhat limited budgets, the studio was able to create overtly theatrical horror dramas that unfolded as much in deeply saturated colors as in dialogue.

   This adaptation of Robert Louis Stevenson’s novella about the duality of man is no exception. If neither Paul Massie, who portrays both Jekyll and Hyde, nor Christopher Lee, who portrays a friend to both men, deliver supremely memorable performances, that isn’t to say that there isn’t other things happening on screen to keep the viewers attention for the duration.

   There are a few scenes set at a London nightclub called The Sphinx that are beautifully executed and lavishly designed. Similarly, there’s a short montage sequence in which Mr. Hyde visits the seedy side of town, making an appearance at a fight club and later at an opium den. But these are unfortunately few and far between in what is basically a rather talky movie that doesn’t do the material justice.