The Son of Dr. Jekyll (1951) Clay Campbell Transformation Effect

Jekyll and Hyde have been portrayed on the screen, in different versions, between 1920 and 1941 by John Barrymore, Sheldon Lewis, Fredric March and Spencer Tracy. High horror point of each film has been when Jekyll drinks his potion and is transformed into the revolting Hyde right before the eyes of the audience. In each instance “stop action” was used, to change the appearance of the actor, with the camera stopped for several frames while more and more make-up was added.

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Louis Hayward, as “The Son of Dr. Jekyll,” gets a new treatment with the transition effected by a series of color filters placed over the camera lens. The process, developed by Clay Campbell, makeup head at Columbia, Larry Butler, special effects expert, and cameraman Henry Freulich, is faster in production time and more horrific in results than the old-fashioned method.

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Campbell made up Hayward’s face, with red rouge and a red lipstick pencil, to look like the creature Hyde. False hair, dyed precisely the same shades as the grease paint, is used on his head, eyebrows and cheeks. The red pencil was used to draw sharp lines and the rouge was used for delicate shading. When this was viewed with the naked eye, of course, Haywood looked rather funny. But when viewed through a red filter, he looked normal. The illusion of evil was created when viewed through a blue filter, turning the seemingly normal features into the terrifying Mr. Hyde.

On the sound stage, the transformation is photographed through a series of sliding filters, red and blue, with precisely the same color factors as the make-up and false hair.

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Because the whole process was an experiment, Hayward spent many long hours in the makeup chair. The number-one problem was to get a neutral foundation for his face and hands that would have the same look regardless of the filters used. The second problem was to mix a red makeup that would have the same look as the foundation when viewed through the red filter. Then they needed a blue or green filter that would turn the red makeup black without affecting the neutral foundation. In addition, Hayward’s clothing had to meet the same requirements. Even the floor had to be of a neutral tone so that it would not change color as the split (blue-green/red) filter went across the lens.

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For the finale and smash visual impact, the blue filter reveals the red make-up, showing the repellent monster Hyde in full horror, with sensual, bagging features, and a simian growth of hair on scalp, eyebrows and jowls. By reversing the color sequence of the filters, the spectator sees Hyde transformed back into the person of the young and handsome Jekyll.

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After the foundation was applied and powdered with talc, it was necessary to apply the red Mr. Hyde makeup while looking through a blue-green filter. Quite challenging, to say the least. This ingenious idea worked only with black and white films.

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“The largest problem was balancing the exposure for the red and blue filter. The red required a 6x increase in exposure, and the blue 12x. In order to make both filters transmit an equal amount of light, neutral density filters were added; then the exposure was exactly the same for both shots. We used a 2-inch lens for the shots, working at f/2.4 and using 24 f.p.s. The filters were Wratten glass squares, joined-edge to edge so that they could follow each other over the lens, without any interruption. They were used at 3″ in front of the lens, and therefore there is no demarcation line showing,” – Don Glouner, Director of Photography in the Matte Department.

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CREDITS/REFERENCES/SOURCES
Making a Monster by Al Taylor and Sue Roy

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