I will forever defend Derek Jacobi as the best Hamlet ever filmed. His version was well over three hours and I know Barrymore and Shakespeare would have loved it. If John Barrymore did a full version of Hamlet on screen and not just screen tests, this would be a different story. But the minutes captured are amazing to see. I only wish there was more and that the quality was better, that is why I'm not giving a perfect rating.
John Barrymore was a natural when it came to acting. He became an actor just for money and eventually raised the bar when playing two of Shakespeare's greatest roles: Richard III and Hamlet. He blew everyone away as both performances, but really got immortality as Hamlet. Many scholars called him the best Hamlet they'd ever seen. The ones that did not call him THE best called him ONE OF the best. They say Barrymore's Hamlet has never been touched. While Olivier and Jacobi's performances blew me away, I would do anything to see Barrymore's Hamlet in his prime. Hamlet is a 500-year-old story with hundreds of actors that have played him. So is Barrymore the best Hamlet ever? Most likely not. But he has yet to be surpassed.
Barrymore rocked the stages in America and England as Hamlet in the early 1920s. With the popularity of cinema growing, there were plans to make a movie of Barrymore as the Prince of Denmark. This bit is what came out. They captured Hamlet's near-kill of Claudius and when he sees his father's ghost. Despite poor quality, Barrymore still gives a daring and haunting performance. This was years after his glory days and couldn't remember most of his lines. His health was deteriorating and he was unable to retain all of his lines, so the project was scrapped.
I know that Barrymore gave the best performance that has not yet been touched. I have his biography that goes into great detail how he did some scenes. I am an actor that aspires to be the best and pull off Hamlet. Hence my profile picture of Barrymore.
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