- Actors: John Barrymore, Martha Mansfield, Brandon Hurst, Charles Lane, Cecil Clovelly
- Directors: John S. Robertson
- Writers: Clara Beranger, Oscar Wilde, Robert Louis Stevenson, Thomas Russell Sullivan
- Producers: Adolph Zukor
- Format: Black & White, DVD-Video, Silent, NTSC, Import
- Language: English
- Region: Region 1 (US and Canada This DVD will probably NOT be viewable in other countries. Read more about DVD formats.)
- Aspect Ratio: 1.33:1
- Number of discs: 1
- MPAA Rating:
- Studio: Madacy Records
- Release Date: March 4 2003
- Run Time: 49 minutes
- Average Customer Review: 9 customer reviews
- ASIN: B0000897C5
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Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde [Import]
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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.
"Dr. Pyckle and Mr. Pride" A 1925 One-Reel Parody Starring Stan Laurel, "Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde" Excerpt of the Rival 1920 Version Starring Sheldon Lewis (14 Min.), and "The Transformation Scene," A Rare 1909 Audio Recording. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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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. Some of these are quite good, but I particularly recommend the Kino version, which offers a good picture, good soundtrack, and several interesting bonuses. Other release versions should be approached with caution, and you should avoid releases by the likes of Alpha or Madacy as you would the plague. They may seem attractive in terms of price, but frankly... in this instance you get what you pay for.
GFT, Amazon Reviewer
And now the bad bits,or where the missing 2 stars went:
1) The title cards are not complete originals,they go from decorative,to semi-decorative,to added in at a much later date.
2)The "music" score for this version is an absolute joke. A monkey on a caliope would've scored it better. Half of the music is nowhere near correct for the scenes.( Try to imagine a wind up jewelery box,playing during one of Dr.Jekyll's murderous rages.).I've heard a live organ accompaniment to this film,and this DVD version,isn't it.
3) The "extras" are nothing more than a "feeble" interactive quiz,a picture of a lobby posters,and a "trailer". ( Although I'm not sure they had film trailers in the 1920's.)
If you MUST have this film,the price is right,but by all means turn down the sound and put on your own choice of "scarey music"....or a collection of music boxes if you like it that way.
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