Mary Reilly (film)

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Mary Reilly
Mary Reilly.jpg
Theatrical Release Poster
Directed by Stephen Frears
Produced by Norma Heyman
Ned Tanen
Nancy Graham Tanen
Written by Christopher Hampton
Based on Mary Reilly
by Valerie Martin
Music by George Fenton
Cinematography Philippe Rousselot
Edited by Lesley Walker
Distributed by TriStar Pictures
Release date
  • February 23, 1996 (1996-02-23) (US)
Running time
108 minutes
Country United States
Language English
Budget $47 million[1]
Box office $12,379,402[1]

Mary Reilly is a 1996 American film directed by Stephen Frears and starring Julia Roberts and John Malkovich. The movie was written by Christopher Hampton and adapted from the novel Mary Reilly by Valerie Martin (itself inspired by Robert Louis Stevenson's Strange Case of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde). This was the re-teaming of director Frears, screenwriter Hampton, and actors Malkovich and Glenn Close, all of whom were involved in the Oscar-winning Dangerous Liaisons (1988).


Mary Reilly is put into service by her mother at age 12 in order to avoid contact with her tormenting father. She comes to work in the home of Dr. Henry Jekyll, who has a laboratory that is separate from the house. A rapport develops between she and the doctor. Mr. Poole, the head of the household staff, distrusts their familiarity but the doctor calls on her for help particularly when the doctor hires an assistant who is to work in the laboratory.

Mary gets locked in the laboratory one night and spies on the new assistant, Mr. Edward Hyde, as to what is going on. She is found out but Mr. Hyde is not as disapproving as she imagines he might be and lets her out. On an errand to deliver letter from the doctor to Mrs. Faraday, a madam, Mary learns that a bloody mess at the whorehouse was caused by Mr. Hyde.

Mary finally meets the enigmatic Edward Hyde and finds herself drawn towards his passionate nature. However, she is also upset when he reveals that he knows intimate details about her conversations with the Doctor. In turn, Mary challenges the Doctor about this and the doctor claims that he made notes about their conversations out of habit: thus, Hyde looked at the Doctor's notes without his knowledge. The next day, when Mary delivers Jekyll's breakfast, he asks her to accompany Hyde on an errand. They visit the slaughterhouse yard to collect organs for the doctor's research. Upon their return, Hyde torments Mary, asking if she is aware of how much Jekyll longs to touch her.

While fetching tea for Hyde, she answers the door to find Mrs. Farraday, who insists on seeing Jekyll. Jekyll is not pleased to see Farraday, who demands more money for her continued silence. Mary leaves them alone, but while watering the garden, she notices the lights in the lab go out. Investigating, she discovers a small pool of blood on the theater table. She does not see Hyde, who is hidden and has killed Mrs Farraday.

Mary is told by letter the passing of her mother and returns home to plan her funeral. While returning to the home of the doctor, Mr. Hyde grabs Mary in the alley while he is pursued by, but hidden from, the mounted police. The police eventually question Mary about the death of Sir Danvers Carew when she returns to the home of the doctor. Mary denies having seen Hyde that day and Jekyll eventually warns Mary that she should not have lied to the police. He reveals that he has dismissed Hyde and bribed him to disappear.

Days later, Mary is surprised to discover Hyde in the doctor's bed. She tries to raise the alarm, but he stops her. Hyde then reveals to her his true nature. He explains that the doctor injects himself with a serum; a cure for his depression, and that Hyde is the resulting cure. He in turn injects the 'antidote' to resume being Jekyll. He said that he now has the ability to appear without the aid of Jekyll's serum. Hyde then tries to persuade her to have sex with him. Shocked, Mary wishes to leave. He releases her, and she joins her colleagues in the kitchen. They are interrupted by Jekyll, who orders Poole to take a sample of a potion to the chemists and ask them to analyze it. He is to wait until they are successful, as this is a matter of life and death. Unfortunately, Poole returns unsuccessfully.

Mary packs her things to leave, but on her way out, she decides to visit the lab. Hyde attacks her, smashing items in the laboratory. He holds a knife to her throat, but does not kill her. He says that he always knew that Mary "would be the death of us." He then injects himself with the antidote, and Mary is forced to witness the horrific transformation between one man to the other. Jekyll reveals that Hyde has mixed a poison with the antidote. He then dies in Mary's arms. In the morning, Jekyll, although dead, has transformed into Hyde one last time, awake and smiling, as Mary walks into the fog.



Producers Jon Peters and Peter Guber acquired the film rights to Mary Reilly in 1989, and optioned them for Warner Bros. with Roman Polanski as director.[2] When Guber became CEO of Sony Pictures Entertainment later that year, he moved Mary Reilly to Sony's sister company, TriStar Pictures, where Tim Burton was approached to direct with Denise Di Novi to produce in 1991.[3] Christopher Hampton was hired to write the screenplay, and Burton signed on as director in January 1993, after he approved Hampton's rewrite.[2] He intended to start filming in January 1994, after he completed Ed Wood,[4] with Winona Ryder [5] in the leading role but Burton dropped out in May 1993 over his anger against Guber for putting Ed Wood in turnaround. Stephen Frears was TriStar's first choice to replace Burton, and Di Novi was fired and replaced with Ned Tanen. Daniel Day-Lewis was TriStar's first choice for the role of Dr. Jekyll and Uma Thurman for the role of Mary.[3]

Critical and commercial reception[edit]

Reports of alleged production delays and animosity between the two leads helped fuel the poor word-of-mouth preceding the film's release. Upon release, the reviews were decidedly negative, with few critics finding anything to praise about the production. Many found fault with Roberts, calling her 'miscast' (though Malkovich, too, received his fair share of ill mention). The film did not do well at the box office. It earned a paltry $5.6 million domestically on a budget of $47 million and grossed only $12.3 million worldwide.[6] Mary Reilly currently holds a 26% rating on Rotten Tomatoes based on 42 reviews with the consensus stating: "Mary Reilly looks good and has its moments but overall, the movie borders on boredom."

Roberts was nominated for Worst Actress by the Razzie Awards, with Stephen Frears also being nominated for Worst Director, but lost to Striptease.[7] The film was also entered into the 46th Berlin International Film Festival.[8]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b "Mary Reilly - Box Office Data". The Numbers. Retrieved 16 August 2011. 
  2. ^ a b Claudia Eller (1993-01-11). "Fox mulls playing 'Pat' hand; TriStar woos Woo". Variety. Retrieved 2010-10-30. 
  3. ^ a b Claudia Eller (1993-05-03). "Burton's off 'Reilly'". Variety. Retrieved 2010-10-30. 
  4. ^ Staff (1993-02-04). "TriStar Pictures slate for 1993". Variety. Retrieved 2010-10-30. 
  5. ^
  6. ^ Mary Reilly (1996) - Box office / business
  7. ^ "1996 RAZZIE® Nominees & "Winners"". Retrieved 6 July 2011. 
  8. ^ "Berlinale: 1996 Programme". Retrieved 2012-01-01. 

External links[edit]