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
In the short Renaissance flashback memory sequence, where Hyde is explaining to Gina about the poisonous mysteries of his secret ring, set pieces and costumes were brought from "The Jest". That was a hit play in which John Barrymore had starred with brother Lionel Barrymore on Broadway in 1919 before shooting this picture. See more »
After the first transformation scene when Hyde attempts to change back into Jekyll, as he throws himself onto the floor, you can see one of his prosthetic fingers fly off. See more »
Sir George Carew:
In devoting yourself to others, Jekyll, aren't you neglecting the development of your own life?
Sir George Carew, Dr. Henry Jekyll:
Isn't it by serving others that one develops oneself, Sir George?
Sir George Carew:
Which self? A man has two two - as he has two hands. Because I use my right hand, Should I never use my left?
[Carew pointedly moves both hands indepemdently, making his point known to the whole table]
Sir George Carew:
Your really strong man fears nothing. It is the weak one that is afraid of - - experience.
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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 »
Early silent version of the classic horror tale holds up incredibly well more than eight decades later. John Barrymore is the well-to-do doctor who concocts a serum that allows his dark side to find a home in his alter ego. But how long can this double identity survive before one of the personalities absorbs the other?
DR. JEKYLL AND MR. HYDE works as well as it does thanks in no small part to Barrymore, the early screen legend. His amazing performance transcends the lack of sound, scratchy picture and obvious limitations. He is the definitive Dr. Jekyll and a suitably creepy Mr. Hyde. Barrymore's co-stars more than hold their own, proving that acting is an inherited talent, not something that is necessarily developed through years of schooling. Brandon Hurst in particular stands out as the upperclassman Sir George Carew.
The film also benefits from its strong script and dialog, though much of the credit there must go to Robert Louis Stevenson, who authored the book on which it is based. What could have easily been a mediocre man-turned-monster outing is instead smart, thought-provoking and imaginative. Director John S. Robertson is to be highly praised.
I went into DR. JEKYLL AND MR. HYDE prepared to cut it heaps of slack given its 1920 production date. But not once did I have to award it brownie points for trying. This is a screen gem from which the Hollywood of today could learn some valuable lessons.
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