What your view of sports and life would be if you had too many concussions
This movie is not on my list of essential films.
NOTE: This installment of Sports Analogies Hidden In Classic Movies is being done as part of a blog-a-thon celebrating the Barrymore family. This is an event hosted by a blog I just discovered called In The Good Old Days Of Classic Hollywood. Well, that’s not exactly true…she discovered me. The quality of her blog suggests she is not an in-patient in a state facility, which means she is a serious departure from the seven regular readers of Dubsism.
In any event, if you are a fan of classic film, there’s really no reason that blog shouldn’t be in your bookmarks.
To see all the other works in this Barrymore Blog-A-Thon, click here.
This film is based on the Robert Louis Stevenson story of the same name. Doctor Henry Jekyll is the essential “well-respected man about town” largely due to his selfless acts serving the community and his passion for scientific discovery. But as fate would have it, an evening visit to the domicile of his future father-in-law Sir George Carew (no relation to “Sir” Rodney Carew) finds the good doctor on the receiving end of some not-so-well received criticism.
Growing weary of being taken to task by Sir George, Dr. Jekyll succumbs to the suggestions of Carew as his jabs hit too close to home. In so many words, Carew tells Jekyll tells him that while he is a gifted scientist, the good doctor is also a bit of a “cold fish.”
Driven by this, Jekyll ends up living a double life.
Goaded by Carew into visiting a music hall, Jekyll becomes infatuated with a dancer which drives him to an obsession about the contrasting components of human nature. He begins extensive work in his laboratory on a way to separate and control these dueling sides; ultimately concocting a potion which allows Jekyll to alternate between two completely different personalities. The trouble comes when Dr. Jekyll’s normal persona becomes dominated by the brutish, lascivious Mr. Hyde.
The Hidden Sports Analogy:
“Dr. Jekyll and Mr, Hyde” brings us one the classic plot lines in all of story-telling. A character who through some sort of external force undergoes a complete transformation is the central theme of characters from Popeye the Sailor to The Incredible Hulk. Don’t even try to tell me Jerry Lewis’ “The Nutty Professor” isn’t a comedic version of “Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde.”
If you are a sports fan of even the remotest interest level, the “hidden sports analogy” in this movie probably isn’t all that “hidden.” Dr. Jekyll is the world’s first manufacturer of the “performance-enhancing drugs” which currently are coursing their way through the veins of the sports world.
You really don’t need the Hubble telescope to see the comparison. While the motivations of Jekyll and today’s “juicing” athlete might not be the same, the idea is completely within the same ball park. Jekyll’s attempt to “take a walk on the wild side” (yes, that’s a shameless Lou Reed reference) is really all about improving something for which he has been criticized. Today’s athlete, regardless of the sport, more often than not makes the decision to “get on the gas” in response to calls for the need to be “bigger, stronger, faster.”
While their actions are both responses to criticism, the motivations of Jekyll and today’s athlete are very different. Ultimately, Jekyll is largely driven by sex; the jocks tend to be more about money. However, one doesn’t need an advanced degree in comparative psychology to grasp the idea that sex and money might be the two greatest motivators in the modern human condition.
That’s the key to this movie’s kicking the crap out of “the test of time.” It doesn’t matter that it is almost a full century in age, there are very few people with functioning cerebral cortices who have never been driven to doing something they normally wouldn’t even consider by the want for sex or money.
The Moral of The Story:
I’m not going to bother with some wordy metaphor which could come straight from the “Film as Literature” crowd. That’s because what is also pretty obvious is this story resonates universally because at the end of the day, we are all Jekyll and the monster that is Hyde lives in all of us.