Thursday, October 27, 2011

Phil's Horror Watch, Day 24: Phil watches DR. JEKYLL AND MR. HYDE (1920)-October 24, 2011

Here it is folks: Day Twenty-Four! It's amazing how time flies when you're having fun..watching horror films all month! So for tonight's film I once again traveled back in time and watched another horror gem from the silent film era. The film DR. JEKYLL AND MR. HYDE has been made several times throughout the years, but the John Barrymore 1920 version is still by far the greatest film adaptation ever.

Theatrical Movie Poster (1920)
Based on the classic Robert Louis Stevenson novel of the same name, Barrymore stars as the great Dr. Jekyll, a brilliant and caring man whose scientific experiment unleashes the dark side of his humanity named Mr. Hyde. Eventually the Hyde persona begins to dominate Jekyll's affairs, which leads to preventing Hyde murdering Jekyll's beloved Millicent.

Directed by John S. Robertson, actor John Barrymore, who at the time was the matinee idol known as "The Great Profile," with this film became immortalized as a genuine horror star. Barrymore's Dr. Jekyll is full of life, optimism, love for life and science; basically the man is a saint. However, he's portrayal of the maniacal Mr. Hyde is just riveting and haunting! Hyde is the perfect personification of the dark side of humanity; the evil that resides in all of us. Portraying polar opposite personalities is quite a challenge, and Barrymore was able to achieve this amazingly.

By 1920, there was at least seven different film adaptations of the book. This film version became the most famous of those from the silent era. By 1931, Paramount Pictures, who released the Barrymore version, remade the film into a talkie starring the great Frederick March in the lead role. Outside of Barrymore's, March's is the other version that is ranked as one of the all-time great horror films from the early talkies. The 1931 film also won an Academy award for is groundbreaking special effects. The silent film was released to theaters on April 18, 1920.

DR. JEKYLL AND MR. HYDE is another of the great horror classics from the silent film era. Much like classical music, the film becomes more and more required viewing. For a film that was released 91 years ago, to still be talked about and watched in this day and age, it just shows us that they don't make them like they use to.

DR. JEKYLL AND MR. HYDE is currently available on special edition DVD by the great folks at Kino International. To purchase a copy, visit their website at

Thanks for reading, and enjoy the show!

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