It took John Barrymore to bring class to the American horror film, at least in the eyes of the industry. Dignified and virtuous as Dr. Henry Jekyll in this 1920 silent, Barrymore transforms into id incarnate as the lascivious Mr. Hyde. With almost no makeup beyond his gnarled, knobby fingers and greasy hair, Barrymore relies 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 costars 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 --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
Kino's DVD features a fine transfer from a 35mm negative, though its age can be seen in minor deterioration in some of the darker scenes. Supplements include Stan Laurel's 1925 parody Dr. Pyckle and Mr. Pride (with Laurel doing a dead-on lampoon of Barrymore's performance), an excerpt from the rival 1920 version starring Sheldon Lewis as the schizophrenic hero, a rare 1909 audio recording of "The Transformation Scene," and an illustrated essay on the story's origins and incarnations. --Sean Axmaker --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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