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BCB After Dark: Should the Cubs try for Juan Soto?

The late-night/early-morning spot for Cubs fans asks if the Cubs should try to trade for Juan Soto.

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San Diego Padres v Chicago White Sox Photo by Quinn Harris/Getty Images

It’s another Wednesday night here at BCB After Dark: the raddest reunion for night owls, early risers, new parents and Cubs fans abroad. Come on in and enjoy the autumn night with us. There’s no cover charge this evening. We’ve got a couple of free tables still free, or you could always just sit with a friend who is already here. Bring your own beverage.

BCB After Dark is the place for you to talk baseball, music, movies, or anything else you need to get off your chest, as long as it is within the rules of the site. The late-nighters are encouraged to get the party started, but everyone else is invited to join in as you wake up the next morning and into the afternoon.

The Astros bounced back tonight to win Game 3 of the American League Championship Series, 8-5 over the Rangers. The Rangers now lead the Lone Star Showdown two games to one. From a neutral point of view, the Astros broke out to an early lead off of Max Scherzer and whenever Texas threatened to get back in the game, the Astros seemed to have an answer. The entertaining part of the game wasn’t the score but the outfield defense, with a couple of spectacular plays.

Last night, I asked you what position should be the Cubs’ top priority should be this winter. It really came down a battle between third base and relief pitching and the bullpen ended up on top with 36 percent of the vote. Third base was second with 31 percent. Starting pitching and first base trailed behind with 16 percent and 15 percent respectively.

Here’s the part about the music and movies. Feel free to skip ahead to the end if you’d like. You won’t hurt my feelings.

Tonight we continue with our Halloween Jazz theme with the SFJazz Collective playing Michael Jackson’s “Thriller.” This is great for any Halloween party you might be planning.

The 1931 version of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, directed by Rouben Mamoulian and starring Fredric March and Miriam Hopkins, is considered by many to be the definitive cinematic version of Robert Louis Stevenson’s novella The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. Some fans of the 1920 silent version, directed by John S. Robinson and starring John Barrymore, might raise their hand to disagree, but among talkies, this pre-code version is clearly the best of the bunch.

The 1931 version took a long route to get here. When it was re-released five years later during the Production Code era, over eight minutes of the movie were cut to get the Hays Office to approve a re-release. A recent restoration has returned those eight minutes to their rightful place in the film. On top of that, MGM head Louis B. Mayer bought up the rights to this film and every copy when the 1941 version starring Spencer Tracy came out. The prints were all supposed to be destroyed and the film was considered lost until copies were found in the MGM vault in 1967.

One of the things you learn when you watch enough classic movies is that during the 1930s, at least, each studio had a distinctive style. That makes sense when you learn the way that films were churned out like a automobile production line, with actors, directors and crew that were under contract moving from one film to another like an assembly line. Sure, there were some individual differences with directors and actors like you have today, but creatives were expected to make films that reflected the studio’s vision.

With MGM, you got glitz, glamor and family-friendly films. With Warner Brothers, you got gritty dramas about criminals or the “forgotten man (and woman).” But the 1931 version of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde was a Paramount production, and Paramount was the studio of culture and art. Yes, Universal and RKO made horror pictures that featured blood and gore those great monsters like Frankenstein and King Kong, but if Paramount was going to make a horror picture, they’re going to make one that had ambition. In case you wondered if this was going to be a tawdry movie, it opens with Dr. Henry Jekyll playing Bach on an organ. You’ve got to get that high art in with the gore.

Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde certainly qualifies as “artsy” for a pre-code horror film. March would win an Oscar for Best Actor for this movie, which I believe was the only “major” Academy Award for a horror movie until Silence of the Lambs. This movie also has a massive budget (well over $500,000) for any movie of the time, with a huge cast. That budget was more than double what a normal “A-movie” got from at the studio at the time.

The thing that amazed audiences the most at the time was the transformation of March from Jekyll to Hyde, created by Wally Westmore. Mamoulian kept a secret for years as to how they pulled it off, but it was done with different-colored makeup and lenses that would hide the look until the right moment. In black-and-white, the audience couldn’t tell that March’s face was changing colors.

Westmore also gave Hyde an ape-like look which strongly contrasts with the upright Victorian Jekyll. It’s also the look of Hyde that has been most adapted in the years since. But this look adds an “evolution” theme to the film, as Hyde looks like a neanderthal.

I assume that you are all familiar with the basic plot of Jekyll and Hyde, since it has been adapted and parodied hundreds of times since the novella was first published in 1886. The theme of the film is that “dual” nature of man and how Henry Jekyll is driven to become the evil Edward Hyde. Victorian morality about sexuality is a big theme here, as Jekyll’s sexual frustration about not being allowed to marry his fiancée Muriel Carew (Rose Hobart) is what drives him into becoming the lecherous Mr. Hyde.

And make no mistake about it, for all its artistic pretensions, this film is about sex. Jekyll is out walking one night (why such a gentleman is walking in such an unsavory neighborhood, I don’t know) when he sees a bar singer (and probably a prostitute), Ivy Pierson (Hopkins), being assaulted by a man on the street. Being the chivalrous Victorian gentleman that he is, Jekyll rescues Ivy and brings her home to her nearby apartment. Here, in a scene that was completely cut out of the film in post-Hays Code showings, Ivy tries to thank Dr. Jekyll for saving her by seducing him. She sits on the edge of her bed and slowly removes her garters. She then gently tosses them at his feet. Then her stockings slowly come off and Ivy shows off her legs. There are some intense closeups on the eyes of the two of them, cutting back and forth. Finally, in case Jekyll (and the audience) doesn’t get the point, Ivy leans up against the side of her bed, stares at Jekyll and spreads her legs. Yes, she’s wearing a fluffy thigh-length skirt when she spreads her legs, but no one could miss the implication.

The proper Dr. Jekyll rejects Ivy’s advances, but his sexual frustration boils over (literally. At one point there’s a shot of a boiling pot in his laboratory) and Jekyll takes the potion to become Mr. Hyde. He returns the next night to the bar where Ivy is singing. He flashes around a lot of cash (Jekyll is pretty wealthy) and tells Ivy that he is going to put her up in a fancy apartment and take care of her. To be clear, Ivy wants nothing to do with this hideous Mr. Hyde, even for money, but Hyde gives her no choice. He keeps her locked up in a room he’s rented and rapes her. He also inflicts various other types of physical abuse on Ivy and while they aren’t shown, they are described by Ivy.

Later, Ivy runs to the virtuous Dr. Jekyll for help from this hideous monster who has her locked up. Clearly, that was a bad idea.

Ivy is a creation of this film and it was a great one. Hopkins plays both the seductive Ivy from the first time we see her and the frightened and abused Ivy from later on brilliantly. It’s almost as much of a dual role as March has. As much as March won the Oscar, Hopkins turned in an even better performance, albeit in a smaller part.

March was mostly an unknown when he got the dual part. Paramount wanted John Barrymore to reprise his role from the silent picture, but he was under contract to MGM and they wouldn’t lend him out. March got the role, in part, because he was under contract to Paramount and kinda resembled Barrymore. Playing a dual part is always catnip for critics and award voters, but March certainly rises up to the challenge. He certainly has a lot of fun as Edward Hyde, playing him as a snarling, nasty and ape-like man. But what is really scary about Hyde is that you can probably find someone just like him in any bar in the country even today, looking for women to dominate. And many of those people probably see themselves more like Henry Jekyll when they look in the mirror.

Director Mamoulian, along with cinematographer Karl Struss, give the film the “arty” look that Paramount no doubt wanted. The first five minutes of the movie are all shot from the point of view of Henry Jekyll—the only look we get of March during the opening is when he stops to adjust his tie in a mirror. There are voice-overs during these scenes, something that was quite new and unusual at the time. There are the weird close ups that I already mentioned. The lavish Victorian interiors would be at home in any MGM movie, but they are shot at odd angles that would have been recognized the German expressionist filmmakers of the era as a nod to their work. Basically, Mamoulian and Struss pulled out every trick in the book they could think of to elevate the nature of this tawdry tale.

Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde (1931) is definitely a pre-code masterpiece. The overt sexuality is shocking by the standards of the time and even in the current era of CGI, you can appreciate the work that went into Hyde’s makeup and transformation.

Here’s the first transformation scene from Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde.

Welcome back all you ghouls and ghosts who skip the music and movies.

There has been a lot of talk about the Cubs trading prospects this winter for established stars. (sub. req.) And there’s also been a lot of talk about the Padres lowering their payroll this winter and trading someone with a high-salary, with Juan Soto being the most-likely to go. (sub. req.)

So the question tonight is, should the Cubs try to acquire Juan Soto? The biggest reason to do so is that Soto is an elite-talent hitter. Last year, playing half his games in cavernous Petco Park, Soto hit .275/.410/.519 with 35 home runs and 109 RBI. He led the league in walks (132) which is more than his 129 strikeouts. His OPS+ was 158. Away from Petco, Soto hit .307/.422/.604 with 23 home runs. Soto is also still quite young, turning 25 next week.

The biggest downside to trading for Soto is that he is under team control for only one year. Getting Soto would be another Cody Bellinger situation, in that the Cubs would have him for the 2024 season with no guarantee of anything after that except a qualifying offer draft pick. And if you think Bellinger will cost a lot on the free agent market, Soto will likely cost a lot more. He could get a deal over $400 million.

There are two other downsides to Soto. One is that he’s a left fielder and the Cubs have Ian Happ there. But Soto is a poor enough left fielder that making him a full-time DH for one season wouldn’t be a bad idea.

The other downside is the cost. There will be several teams wanting Soto if the Padres decide to trade him and the Padres will want a lot back. With only one year of control left, the Padres won’t get back a package equal to what they gave up for him, which was headlined by C.J. Abrams and MacKenzie Gore but also included three more prospects and Luke Voit. But he’s not going to be cheap.

I don’t think the Cubs would have part with Pete Crow-Armstrong or Cade Horton in a package for Soto, but everyone else would be up for grabs. Matt Shaw, Kevin Alcántara, Jordan Wicks, James Triantos, Owen Caissie (maybe the Padres want him back!), Ben Brown Jackson Ferris, Jefferson Rojas and others would all be on the table. Not all of them, of course, but at least two from the list and maybe another solid prospect. A major leaguer like Christopher Morel would also be a possibility for the deal.

So if that’s the cost—two very good prospects and Christopher Morel or three prospects, would you make the deal for one year of Juan Soto? Sure, the Cubs could try to re-sign him, but I don’t know why Soto would agree to that with him being so close to free agency.


Should the Cubs make an offer for Juan Soto?

This poll is closed

  • 21%
    Yes, he’s an elite hitter
    (78 votes)
  • 78%
    No, he’s not worth the cost for one year
    (292 votes)
370 votes total Vote Now

Thank you for everyone who stopped by tonight and all week. It’s been great hanging around with all of you. Please get home safely. If you checked anything, let us get that for you now. Recycle and cans or bottles. Tip the waitstaff. And join us again next week for mor BCB After Dark.