The story has been filmed as recently as last year, but I'm going to rank the versions I've seen lately.
4. Spencer Tracy, 1941
Not so good. I love Spencer Tracy. We all love Spencer Tracy. This is just a terrible role choice for the man. The entire point of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde is the transformation of the civilized fellow into the rabid animal. It just doesn't work here. Tracy merely looks like he was out drinking too much the night before and he's feeling a bit cranky. He's simply not at all menacing. Ingrid Bergman isn't a whole lot better. Lana Turner is lovely, yes, but not lovely enough to make this good. A lot of stars, but disappointing.
Silent and spooky. I have a bit of a crush on John Barrymore, and who could blame me? His transformation is amazingly convincing and creepy. The special effects for the time are astonishing. The only downside is that it's silent, and silent movies just don't translate very well today. It's well-worth seeing, though, just to see Barrymore at his best. You'll have trouble recognizing that the same actor is playing both roles, and that's the very definition of success where this story is concerned.
Yes! This is how the story should be done! Frederic March is amazing (he won an Oscar for the role), and the transformation scenes are astonishing for 1931. His Mr. Hyde is ugly, scary and fairly lusty. The movie is beautifully shot through fog and violence. Very good and even a little bit spooky for a movie from this era.
1. Tweety Bird, 1960