Based on the Robert Louis Stevenson story: Doctor Henry Jekyll's enthusiasm for science and his selfless acts of service have made him a much-admired man. But as he visits Sir George Carew one evening, his host criticizes him for his reluctance to experience the more sensual side of life. Sir George goads Jekyll into visiting a music hall, where he watches the alluring dancer Gina. Jekyll becomes fascinated with the two contrasting sides of human nature, and he becomes obsessed with the idea of separating them. After extensive work in his laboratory, he devises a formula that does indeed allow him to alternate between two completely different personalities, his own and that of a brutish, lascivious person whom he names Hyde. It is not long before the personality of Hyde begins to dominate Jekyll's affairs. Written by
Contrary to popular belief, this film was not shot at the Astoria Studios in Long Island. Principal photography took place between December 1919 and January 1920 in the rooftop auditorium of the Amsterdam Opera House on 44th St. in Manhattan, in order for Barrymore to make his regularly scheduled Broadway appearances. In between February, 1920 and September, 1920, Paramount used the downstairs auditorium when it became available. The Astoria studios opened the following month. See more »
When Jekyll is pondering to drink the potion for the first time, we see the glass he's to drink from is half filled with potion. In the next shot when Jekyll brings the glass up to his lips the glass is empty. See more »
Sir George Carew:
[Obviously attracted to her]
My dear Lady Camden, a beautiful woman like you is Paradise for the eyes - - but Hell for the soul!
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Except for John Barrymore whose name appears above the title, actors were not originally credited in this movie at the start or at the end. Instead, four additional actors and their character names are credited in the inter-titles right before they appear on-screen. See more »
I'm afraid this is my favourite film version of the tale. I say afraid because I think all the versions following this were technically better, but I still come back to this one. It's faults are legion, mainly from the technological standpoint, and you can also sometimes shake your head at the acting talents displayed, but the atmosphere of the film as a Victorian melodrama is unbeatable. The age of the film itself actually helps in this case (in these digital times), with plenty of blurred smoky foggy images to contemplate. As in the case of Hitchcock's 39 Steps, I preferred the film to the book.
Barrymore/Hyde's convulsions can be mirth inducing, but you can't argue with the fact that if you saw him in real life you'd cross the road to avoid him. Watch his expression after he kills Carew!
This DVD version ran a sedate b&w 82 minutes - after a lifetime of watching a tinted 59 minuter it took some getting used to, and the music was totally unsympathetic to the action too. Therefore the next time I trot this out it really will be silent! But well worth watching seminal stuff especially if you're interested in seeing the best film (that survives anyhow) from 1920.
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