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Doctor Jekyll And Mr Hyde  [DVD] 
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Classic silent version of Robert Louis Stevenson's horror tale. Witnesses to the behaviour of the debased Mr Hyde are shocked by his depravity and bestiality. The real mystery, which baffles polite Victorian society, is why Hyde should have as his friend and protector a decent man such as Doctor Henry Jekyll. And why are the two gentlemen never seen together in public? John Barrymore stars in the double role, employing minimal make-up to portray Hyde and relying instead on his considerable acting skills.
In this 1920 silent version of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde, John Barrymore is dignified and virtuous as Dr Henry Jekyll, and transforms into Id incarnate as the lascivious Mr. Hyde with almost no make-up beyond his gnarled, knobby fingers and greasy hair, relying almost solely on a bug-eyed grimace, a spidery body language and pure theatrical flourish. He tends to be hammy as the leering beast of a thug but brings a tortured struggle to the repressed doctor, horrified at the demon he's unleashed, guilty that he enjoys Hyde's unrestrained life of drinking and whoring and terrified that he can no longer control the transformations. Martha Mansfield co-stars as his pure and innocent sweetheart, and Nita Naldi (the vamp of Blood and Sand) has a small but memorable role as the world-weary dance-hall darling who first "wakens" Jekyll's "baser nature". --Sean Axmaker, Amazon.com
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Top Customer Reviews
The screenplay seems, however, more influenced by Oscar Wilde's "The Picture of Dorian Gray" than by Stevenson's novel. The cynical Carew resembles the jaded Lord Henry who brings a virtuous Dorian Gray/Henry Jeckyll into temptation, while Jeckyll's conservative friend Dr. Laynon reminds one of Dorian Gray's voice of conscience Basil. Also, the idea of being able to indulge in vice and eroticism while keeping a clean soul/visage is quite the same: Edward Hyde is Dorian Gray's decaying portrait.
The film takes a while to get going, and has overall very uninteresting mise-en-scene, except where Hyde is involved. In the end, though, its potential could have been stronger - it doesn't escape the sentimental moralising that the novel does: good and evil are taken for granted, and we must choose what to follow. It it weren't for Barrymore's superb acting, this film would have little merit to remember it by.
Whether or not you happen to like this particular version of the famous Robert Louis Stevenson tale will depend a great deal upon your tolerance for the change in acting styles that has occurred between the silent and the modern era. Some silent stars--Lillian Gish, Ramon Novarro, and Louise Brooks leap to mind--were remarkably subtle and worked to create a new style of acting appropriate to the screen, but most actors played very broadly. John Barrymore, considered one of the greatest actors of his day, is among the latter, and was noted for his larger-than-life performances on stage. He brings that expansiveness to the screen, where it inevitably feels "too big" to the modern viewer.
At the time, Barrymore's transformation into the evil Mr. Hyde was considered shocking in its realism, but today these celebrated scenes are more likely to induce snickers than thrills--as will much of Hyde's make-up, which seems excessive to the modern sensibility. Even so, there are aspects of the film which survive quite well, scenes in which one is permitted a glimpse into the power this film once had. For Barrymore's Hyde is, for all his bizarre ugliness, a remarkably seductive creature--and Barrymore uses his hands and eyes in a remarkable way. One feels the sexual pull as much as one feels the revulsion.
The 1920 DR. JEKYLL & MR. HYDE is available in several VHS and DVD releases.Read more ›
The audiences of 1920 could only be thankful for Paramount Pictures and their more seminal adaptation starring John Barrymore as both noble Jekyll and a very spider like Hyde. Screenwriter Clara Beranger expanded the romantic element by doubling Jekyll's sweetheart, Millicent, with a lust interest for Hyde; a sultry Italian temptress called Miss Gina whom Hyde shacks up in a Soho apartment and slowly sucks dry of all vigour - the spider and the fly. This externalisation allowed the sexual themes of the story to come more into the foreground and placed the hero between two woman who present different lures. On the one hand, there is the upper class virgin who is only sexually obtainable through the propriety of marriage.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Simply a true classic. It is a decent print for the price and age of source as well.Published 17 months ago by Bobeee
Brilliant adaption.. Barrymore apparently achieved this character mostly by facial expressions and actually dislocated his jaw in the process.. I am led to believe.. Read morePublished 18 months ago by Mr. Dave
I usually avoid very old films on Blu-ray because the only ones I have seen so far are very poor.
I changed my mind when I saw the films Phantom of the Opera, Metropolis and... Read more
The service from the provider was quick and efficient. The film was good and had the aura of mystery and horror. Read morePublished on 10 Mar. 2014 by ahappycustomer
this is one of the first truly great horror films in american cinema, largely due to john barrymore's magnificent performance in the title roles. Read morePublished on 1 Dec. 2011 by jeremiah harbottle
Dr Jekyll & Mr Hyde (Silent Classics) [DVD]
Most of us know about the movie and its been reviewed better by other folks so all i will say is that this is a bad transfer by... Read more