The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. HydeMature

My adaptation of Stevenson's classic novella. After first reading this story, I always wondered why every retelling put a more 'horror' spin on it. This is my cinematic version of the original tale.

Title card: [white on black] London, September 1886

FADE TO:

EXT. SHADY LANE - EVENING
It is a deceptively pleasant evening in Victorian London. The end of the day of rest is filled with warm colours and children's laughter, and even in this dingy little lane that same vibrancy resonates. The lane is studded with many inset wooden doors and menacing alcoves, watched over by a tall tower-like building. Two gentlemen are strolling along at a leisurely pace: one could be forgiven for thinking that they are father and son as their dress, familiarity and ease with each other indicates so, but these are longstanding friends. We have caught them mid-conversation. The younger man speaks first, motioning toward one of the many inset doors.

MR. ENFIELD
Did you ever remark that door? It is connected in my mind with a very odd story.

MR. UTTERSON
Indeed! And what was that?

MR. ENFIELD
Well it was this way...

Time-lapse effect as the warm evening sky grows very dark and very cold.

EXT. DOCK ROAD - NIGHT
We have seamlessly transitioned into a winter from a previous time and it is well after midnight. The streets are deserted save for a few passed out sailors and vagabonds and a tired-looking MR. ENFIELD is walking the cobbled streets alone.

His voice guides the on-screen action in perfect time.

ENFIELD is walking the dimly-lit lane punctuated by the stars of the streetlamps.

MR. ENFIELD (V.O.)
I was coming home from some place at the end of the world, about three o'clock of a black winter morning, and my way lay through a part of town where there was literally nothing to be seen but lamps. Street after street, and all the folks asleep - street after street, all lighted up as if for a procession, and all as empty as a church - till at last I got into that state of mind when a man listens and listens and begins to long for the sight of a policeman.

He is approaching a corner; coming across from one side is a SMALL BURLY MAN, and running down towards the corner is a YOUNG GIRL. The destiny of their collision is inescapable. The two collide heavily and although the SMALL BURLY MAN is unshaken, the YOUNG GIRL crumbles to the floor.

MR. ENFIELD (V.O.) (CONT'D)
All at once I saw two figures: one a little man who was stumping along eastward at a good walk, and the other a girl of maybe eight or ten who was running as hard as she was able down a cross-street. Well sir, the two ran into one another naturally enough at the corner;

Without stopping, the SMALL BURLY MAN catches the YOUNG GIRL's falling legs in his stride and grinds her slowly beneath his heavy boots. He makes no attempt to untangle his screaming victim; he simply treads on her more and kicks her away.

MR. ENFIELD (V.O.) (CONT’D)
and then came the horrible part of the thing; for the man trampled calmly over the child's body and left her screaming on the ground. It sounds nothing to hear, but it was hellish to see. It wasn't like a man; it was like some damned Juggernaut.

A true gentlemen, MR. ENFIELD is not going to stand for this - he shouts after the SMALL BURLY MAN and runs to catch him.

MR. ENFIELD (V.O.) (CONT’D)
I gave a view halloa, took to my heels, collared my gentleman...

MR. ENFIELD has the SMALL BURLY MAN held by the scruff of the neck when he brings him back to the small crowd around the injured YOUNG GIRL.

MR. ENFIELD (V.O.) (CONT’D)
...and brought him back to where there was already quite a group about the screaming child.

The SMALL BURLY MAN is calm, slightly nervous, but with an edge that unsettles all who meet his gaze. A SCOTTISH DOCTOR turns up and attends to the injured YOUNG GIRL.

MR. ENFIELD (V.O.) (CONT’D)
He was perfectly cool and made no resistance, but gave me one look, so ugly that it brought out the sweat on me like running. The people who had turned out were the girl's own family; and pretty soon the doctor, for whom she had been sent, put in his appearance.

This menagerie are understandably not happy with the SMALL BURLY MAN, pointing and making threatening gestures towards him as ENFIELD holds him back from their anger.

MR. ENFIELD (V.O.) (CONT’D)
Well, the child was not much the worse, more frightened, according to the Sawbones; and there you might have supposed would be an end to it. But there was one curious circumstance. I had taken a loathing to my gentleman at first sight. So had the child's family, which was only natural.

ENFIELD looks on as the DOCTOR tends to the child’s wounds. He is clearly experienced, and casts a disdainful look at the man responsible for inflicting the damage he is attempting to repair.

MR. ENFIELD (V.O.) (CONT’D)
But the doctor's case was what struck me. He was the usual cut-and-dry apothecary, of no particular age and colour, with a strong Edinburgh accent, and about as emotional as a bagpipe. Well, sir, he was like the rest of us: every time he looked at my prisoner...

The SMALL BURLY MAN returns a glare so evil that the DOCTOR looks to ENFIELD in an attempt to quell his rage. ENFIELD is no help, and by the time the DOCTOR returns his gaze to the girl’s attacker, he is grinning fearlessly.

MR. ENFIELD (V.O.) (CONT’D)
...I saw that Sawbones turned sick and white with the desire to kill him. I knew what was in his mind, just as he knew what was in mine; and killing being out of the question, we did the next best.

The men in the crowd manage to overpower ENFIELD and wrestle the SMALL BURLY MAN from his grasp. They pin him to a wall for some stern words.

MR. ENFIELD (V.O.) (CONT’D)
We told the man we could and would make such a scandal out of this, as should make his name stink from one end of London to the other. If he had any friends or credit, we undertook that he should lose them. And all the time, as we were pitching it in red hot...

The women in the crowd are trying to hit the SMALL BURLY MAN, but he is more intimidated by the threatening men, now including ENFIELD. That cool edge is still there, though.

MR. ENFIELD (V.O.) (CONT’D)
...we were keeping the women off him as best we could, for they were as wild as harpies. I never saw a circle of such hateful faces; and there was the man in the middle, with a kind of black sneering coolness - frightened too, I could see that - but carrying it off, sir, really like Satan.

The crowd have settled a little as they await a response from their demands. As

ENFIELD’s V.O. speaks the SMALL BURLY MAN's words, he also mimes them in time.

MR. ENFIELD (V.O.) (CONT’D)
'If you choose to make capital out of this accident,' said he, 'I am naturally helpless. No gentleman but wishes to avoid a scene,' says he. 'Name your figure.'

There is a small dispute amongst all parties until the SMALL BURLY MAN nods agreement, and a few of the men in the crowd drag the him away and O.S.

MR. ENFIELD (V.O.) (CONT’D)
Well, we screwed him up to a hundred pounds for the child's family; he would have clearly liked to stick out; but there was something about the lot of us that meant mischief, and at last he struck.

CUT TO:

EXT. SHADY LANE - NIGHT
A MAN from the crowd, the DOCTOR and ENFIELD are waiting outside a doorway, the one that prompted this tale, anxiously pacing.

MR. ENFIELD (V.O.)
The next thing was to get the money; and where do you think he carried us but to that place with the door? - whipped out a key, went in, and presently came back with the matter of ten pounds in gold and a cheque for the balance on Coutt's...

The door opens again and the SMALL BURLY MAN appears with a cheque and a small cloth bag. ENFIELD takes the cheque and examines it as the cloth bag is handed to the MAN. He reaches inside and produces gold coins, and ENFIELD raises his eyebrows at something he spots on the cheque.

MR. ENFIELD (V.O.)
...drawn payable to bearer, and signed with a name that I can't mention, though it's one of the points of my story, but it was a name at least very well known and often printed.

CUT TO:

Another MAN from the crowd snatches it from him to conduct his own examination and there is small discussion amongst all present.

MR. ENFIELD (V.O.) (CONT’D)
The figure was stiff: but the signature was good for more than that, if it was only genuine. I took the liberty of pointing out to my gentleman that the whole business looked apocryphal;

A cynical ENFIELD can be seen pointing the SMALL BURLY MAN up and down - he clearly doesn’t believe any of this is genuine.

MR. ENFIELD (V.O.) (CONT’D)
and that a man does not, in real life, walk into a cellar door at four in the morning and come out of it with another man's cheque for close upon a hundred pounds. But he was quite easy and sneering.

The V.O. speaks in time with the character again.

MR. ENFIELD (V.O.) (CONT’D)
'Set your mind at rest,' says he; 'I will stay with you till the banks open, and cash the cheque myself.' So we all set off, the doctor, and the child's father, and our friend and myself, and passed the rest of the night in my chambers;

FADE TO:

INT. BANK - DAY
The four men are handing over the cheque in a bank, and the CASHIER promptly dispenses the cash.

MR. ENFIELD (V.O.)
and next day, when we had breakfasted, went in a body to the bank. I gave in the cheque myself, and said I had every reason to believe it was a forgery. Not a bit of it. The cheque was genuine.

The SMALL BURLY MAN is horribly smug.

MR. UTTERSON (V.O.)
Tut-tut!

CUT TO:

EXT. SHADY LANE - EVENING
MR. UTTERSON and MR. ENFIELD are still strolling, almost aimlessly, lost in the story.

MR. ENFIELD
I see you feel as I do. Yes, it's a bad story. For my man was a fellow that nobody could have to do with, a really damnable man; and the person that drew the cheque is the very pink of the properties, celebrated too, and (what makes it worse) one of your fellows who do what they call good. Blackmail, I suppose; an honest man paying through the nose for some of the capers of his youth. Blackmail House is what I call that place with the door, in consequence. Though even that, you know, is far from explaining all.

MR. UTTERSON
And you don't know if the drawer of the cheque lives there?

MR. ENFIELD
A likely place, isn't it? But I happen to have noticed his address; he lives in some square or other.

MR. UTTERSON
And you never asked about - the place with the door?

MR. ENFIELD
No, sir: I had a delicacy. I feel very strongly about putting questions; it partakes too much of the style of the day of judgment. You start a question, and it's like starting a stone. You sit quietly on the top of a hill; and away the stone goes, starting others; and presently some bland old bird (the last you would have thought of) is knocked on the head in his own back garden, and the family have to change their name. No, sir, I make it a rule of mine: the more it looks like Queer Street, the less I ask.

MR. UTTERSON
A very good rule, too.

(beat)

MR. ENFIELD
(pointing the building up and down)
But I have studied the place for myself. It seems scarcely a house. There is no other door, and nobody goes in or out of that one, but, once in a great while, the gentleman of my adventure. There are three windows looking on the court on the first floor; none below; the windows are always shut, but they're clean. And then there is a chimney, which is generally smoking; so somebody must live there. And yet it's not so sure; for the buildings are so packed together about that court, that it's hard to say where one ends and another begins.

MR. UTTERSON
Enfield, that's a good rule of yours.

MR. ENFIELD
Yes, I think it is.

MR. UTTERSON
But for all that, there's one point I want to ask: I want to ask the name of that man who walked over the child.

MR. ENFIELD
Well I can't see what harm it would do. It was a man of the name of Hyde.

MR. UTTERSON
Hm. What sort of a man is he to see?

TRANSITION TO:

We are given brief glimpses into ENFIELD's mind; the darkness shifts and swells into a distorted mass of grotesque shapes that eventually form a figure: he pictures MR. HYDE, but each time the picture is... different, the image of HYDE distorted somehow.

MR. ENFIELD (V.O.)
He is not easy to describe. There is something wrong with his appearance; something displeasing, something downright detestable. I never saw a man I so disliked, and yet I scarce know why.

He pictures MR. HYDE, but each time the picture is... different, the image of HYDE distorted somehow.

MR. ENFIELD  (V.O.)
He must be deformed somewhere; he gives a strong feeling of deformity, although I couldn't specify the point.

The images are gaining some sort of clarity, with HYDE now appearing less surreal and more like those found in carnival mirrors.

MR. ENFIELD  (V.O.)
He's an extraordinary-looking man, and yet I really can name nothing out of the way. No, sir; I can make no hand of it; I can't describe him.

For a final brief moment, the shifting shapes show HYDE perfectly.

MR. ENFIELD  (V.O.)
And it's not for want of memory; for I declare I can see him this moment.

CUT TO:

Back to the shady lane and both men considering the grotesque image.

MR. UTTERSON
You are sure he used a key?

MR. ENFIELD
My dear sir...

MR. UTTERSON
Yes, I know; I know it must seem strange. The fact is, if I do not ask you the name of the other party, it is because I know it already.
(more serious)
You see, Richard, your tale has gone home. If you have been inexact in any point, you had better correct it.

MR. ENFIELD
I think you might have warned me... But I have been pedantically exact, as you call it. The fellow had a key; and, what's more, he has it still. I saw him use it, not a week ago.

This conversation has gone on for too long.

MR. ENFIELD (CONT’D)
Here is another lesson to say nothing. I am ashamed of my long tongue. Let us make a bargain never to refer to this again.

MR. UTTERSON
With all my heart, I shake hands on that, Richard.

FADE TO:

The End

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