By Arthur Flynn
The novelist Robert Louis Stevenson was one of the leading writers to provide material for a range of horror films. The best version of his often-re-made 1886 novella, The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, was the 1932 film with Fredric March in the title role.
March played a possessed doctor who tests his new formula that can unleash people’s inner demons but has serious side effects. He played the dual roles of the doctor and the monster.
John Barrymore was originally asked by Paramount to play the lead role, in an effort to recreate his role from the 1920 version of the film. He was under contract to MGM and reluctantly had to refuse the offer.
When discussing who to cast as Jekyll/Hyde, the studio head Adolph Zukor suggested Irving Pichel for the part. Director Rouben Mamoulian turned it down because he wanted an actor who could play both roles convincingly and felt that Pichel could only play Hyde.
When Fredric March was suggested it was felt that he was only a lightweight actor and not suitable for the drama. Following much discussion March finally secured the role.
The other leading members of the cast included Miriam Hopkins as Ivy Pierson; Rose Hobart as Muriel Carew and Holmes Herbert as Dr. Hastie Lanyon. The nephew of Robert Louis Stevenson appeared in a small uncredited role.