John Barrymore was 38 years old and well known as a stage performer. 'The great profile' looks handsome here and physically fit. The truth is that Barrymore had suffered from alcoholism since the age fo 14 and it eventually killed him at the age of 60. "Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde" was already a well known book by the great writer Robert Louis Stevenson. The movie is an perhaps the earliest horror film in America. The scene where Jekyll is sleeping in bed and a large spider, the size of a man, creeps into his room and ascends onto his bed only to merge within the sleeper is very, very well done. The evil has entered the unwary sleeping and is not going to give up its quarry while life still exists in the man. I doubt this scene was been duplicated in any other film, American or foreign. The special effects are crude but they didn't have any previous film to copy. We are talking cutting edge film making here. I've seen Frederic March and Spencer Tracy portray theis film and I do not believe they improved anything regarding My Hyde's charactger. In other words, Barrymore was just as fine an actor as March and Tracy and had a better profile than both of them put together. Silent films don't give a rip for your affected accent. Jack Nicholson is popular but he has a gimmick voice.
*Please note* - This version of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde is, in fact, a silent-era picture. It is now nearly 100 years old. If you choose to judge this picture by today's "in-your-face" standards of total over-the-top horror & gore, then, to be sure, you are going to be mighty disappointed with what you see here.
But if you have an appreciation for film history, and can value this film's story in its understated form, and can forgive it for all of its obvious flaws and faults, then, yes, this old relic will definitely be worth your while to watch.
From my point of view - I was actually quite impressed with the creepy, eerie and sinister atmosphere that prevailed in this production. Now, I would certainly never say that this was a great film. But, with that aside - I'll bet you that, upon its initial release, back in 1920, it must have scared the socks off of many of the viewers in the audience.
One of the earlier screen adaptations of Robert Louis Stevenson’s psychological horror classic starring the legendary John Barrymore in a brilliant dual role. After being introduced to the world of earthly temptations by a couple of cynical colleagues fed up with his straitlaced morality, the kind-hearted yet maddeningly timid Dr. Jekyll is horrified at the carnal stirrings he feels within himself. Convinced that he can devise a potion to separate his baser nature from that which is good and benevolent, the good doctor holes up in his laboratory for weeks concocting just such a magical cocktail. But rather than rid him of all those sinful yearnings the elixir instead transforms him into the vile and slobbering Mr. Hyde, a creature consumed with lust and rage; the id to Jekyll’s superego. Unhindered by either conscience or empathy, Hyde takes up residence in a seedier part of town where he begins feeding his monstrous appetites for pleasure and cruelty on a nightly basis. In the meantime Jekyll’s persona, making an occasional appearance despite Hyde’s more powerful influence, appears increasingly wan and helpless. Tragedy, of course, is inevitable... Beautifully theatrical characters, a gothic organ score, and sets which run the gamut from sunny parlours to crumbling opium dens keep this silent shocker surprisingly effective almost 100 years later. As both Jekyll and Hyde, Barrymore gives one of silent cinema’s most amazing and versatile performances; his repeated transformations from proper Victorian gentlemen to sadistic brute, achieved with a bit of make-up, some primitive prosthetics, and a whole lot of grimacing, are genuinely creepy to behold. Rife with Freudian overtones and just a dash of drug culture, this B&W gem is one of the better literary adaptations I’ve seen.
Believe it or not, there was a time when films did not have the luxury of sound. It's still good entertainment and worth checking out. Relax and have some fun with one of the most chilling stories ever told.
It is in Black & White! No dialouges from the characters' mouth as I watch it. It only has classical music. When I was watching JUST for 10 minutes, I went, "What the heck is this? So old-fashioned & boring."
This is a bad one.
This is not a talkie movie! It might be of interest to historical movie buffs, but I just couldn't get past the fact that there was no audio.
This goes back to the day when
they didn't realize that the camera and audiences are capable of picking up on
subtleties and so every facial expression is way over
exaggerated. Then you get a flash card describing to you what they would have said if they had audio. - not for me.
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