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Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde [VHS] (1920)

John Barrymore , Martha Mansfield , John S. Robertson  |  Unrated |  VHS Tape
4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (35 customer reviews)

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Product Details

  • 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: PAL
  • Language: English
  • Rated: Unrated
  • Number of tapes: 1
  • Run Time: 49 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (35 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B00004CT2P

Editorial Reviews


Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
19 of 19 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars KINO VS IMAGE!!!!! June 4, 2009
By larryj1
One of the great classics of silent films. The Kino edition has better overall picture quality and more special features, but is missing over 5 minutes of footage that is on the Image edition. This footage is missing from here and there during the film. I have both editions and have to prefer the Image disc since it is more complete with only a little less quality. Completeness and originality should always be the major factor. The Kino disc features an orchestral score and the Image disc features an organ score.
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15 of 17 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Stylistically Dated But A Landmark Nonetheless March 20, 2005
Directed by John S. Robertson and starring matinee idol John Barrymore in the dual title role, 1920's DR. JECKYLL & MR. HYDE is sometimes described as the "first American horror film." That description is more than a little problematic, but whether it was or it wasn't, DR. JECKYLL AND MR. HYDE certainly put the horror genre on the Hollywood map.

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 same 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.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Silent Horror Classic Adaptation October 9, 2007
By the year 1920, there'd already been several different film versions of the classic Robert Louis Stevenson novella centered around duality. However, John Barrymore's take, directed by John S. Robertson, would become the best known silent adaptation of the tale. This was the one that put several plot devices on the map. For instance, it introduced the good girl, bad girl dichotomy that mirror Jekyll and Hyde's sense of desire for the pure and profane. It wasn't taken too far in this version but become more developed in the definitive 1931 Rouben Mammoulien version starring Fredric March. One element it did add which did not remain was a sort of Dorian Grey touch involving Jekyll's fiancee's father.

Dr. Henry Jekyll, as opposed to the fifty year old private chemist portrayed in Stevenson's original, is here reimagined as a young and idealistic philanthropist who works late hours tending to the sick in his ward. His fiancee's father, Sir George Carewe, a more worldly man, tempts him by taking him to an "not respectable" bar where eyeing the women, especially a dancer played by Nita Naldi. He is inspired by the proposition of freeing man's baser nature from his more pure one. And, with that, he concocts a very potion that unleashes Edward Hyde, here seen as a spidery and disgusting manifestation of Jekyll's lower instincts.

Hyde now indulges in all the pleasures he could not as Jekyll. However, the path of illicit pleasures soon leads to destruction as Hyde ruins the lives of whomever he comes into contact with, and eventually commits murder. Even so, Jekyll also loses control when the transformations become involuntary, and he goes to sleep as the doctor but awakens as Hyde.

Many of the adaptations depict Hyde's growing evil in various ways.
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars DREW'S GRANDFATHER GOES MAD September 7, 2001
Robert Louis Stevenson cranked out finely plotted, freshly original stories like clockwork. He was the Stephen King of his time and, like King, excelled at horror. John Barrymore was perhaps the most famous stage performer of his time. Known more today as Drew's grandfather and at the end of his short life, a sad alcoholic reflection of his former charisma. In this terrific 1920 version of "DR. JEKYLL AND MR. HYDE," Barrymore's early brilliance is showcased in this first great American horror film that holds its own in the 21st century. In fact, it even has an enhanced, eerie period feel that amps up the dangerous and ill-fated experiment by the curios doctor who discoverz the shadow side of civilization and self. The Mont Alto Orchestra delivers a fine score and the DVD bonus material features a rare 1909 audio recording of the transformation scene, a 1925 one-reel parody starring a goofy Stan Laurel, an excerpt from a rival 1920 version and more.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars The Defining Version January 15, 2009
1920 saw two further film versions of Jekyll & Hyde that could not have contrasted more; one polished, thoughtful and kept in period setting; the other a cheap, rushed derivative set in modern America to save money on sets and costumes. The economy class quickie was produced by Louis B. Mayer and featured Sheldon Lewis, best known as the Clutching Hand in many a movie serial such as The Perils of Pauline (1915). Sheldon's Hyde was described in the film's sub titles as "An Apostle of Hell" who begins his life of debauchery by snatching a passing lady's purse. Hyde's dastardly doings do get a little more ambitious, eventually earning him a date with the electric chair. But, as he fries, the trusty Thank-God-it-was-a-Dream cop out kicks in and Jekyll wakes up declaring "I believe in God! I have a soul..." The film closes with Jekyll safely escorting his fiancee to the opera

The audiences of 1920 could only be thankful for Paramount Pictures and their more seminal adaptation starring John Barrymore as both noble Jekyll and a very spider like Hyde. Screenwriter Clara Beranger expanded the romantic element by doubling Jekyll's sweetheart, Millicent, with a lust interest for Hyde; a sultry Italian temptress called Miss Gina whom Hyde shacks up in a Soho apartment and slowly sucks dry of all vigour - the spider and the fly. This externalisation allowed the sexual themes of the story to come more into the foreground and placed the hero between two woman who present different lures. On the one hand, there is the upper class virgin who is only sexually obtainable through the propriety of marriage. She is mirrored by the the lower class woman of easy virtue who exists in the dark underbelly of society; an area which a man like Jekyll would be seen to eschew, but in which Hyde positively revels.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
3.0 out of 5 stars Remastered but not Restored
I would actually give 4/5 for the movie, John Barrymore does a great job as both Jekyl and especially Hyde, but I would only give 2/5 the new "remastering" for this blu-ray... Read more
Published 2 months ago by Craig Neufeld
5.0 out of 5 stars "The only way to get rid of a temptation is to yield to it."
There have been several cinematic releases of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, but this edition with John Barrymore in the leading role is my favorite. Read more
Published 5 months ago by Matthew G. Sherwin
4.0 out of 5 stars Not An Ideal Candidate for Blu-Ray.
As much as I love this movie, Kino's Blu-Ray edition is a textbook example of how high end resolution does not always benefit older movies especially when they haven't been... Read more
Published 6 months ago by Chip Kaufmann
The first important horror film originated in Germany with Robert Wiene's 1919 expressionistic masterpiece, THE CABINET OF DR. CALIGARI. Read more
Published 7 months ago by Casey62
4.0 out of 5 stars Nicely done!
I enjoy this films original, classic quality; it has been restored well and looks terrific! For such an old silent film, the sound quality of the music and visual quality of the... Read more
Published 18 months ago by FoxCrush
5.0 out of 5 stars Ahh Silents!
I am still a big fan of Fredrick March for this story, but Barrymore is now a close second! I had not expected such a wonderful transformation sequence for this era. Read more
Published 19 months ago by That_Lady
5.0 out of 5 stars Step Into the Mind of a Madman
What is it that hides the baser self from our ordinary, day-to-day reality? Is it our ignorance that denies such evil exists or is it purity of soul that both accepts and then... Read more
Published 21 months ago by Veronica Stroud
1.0 out of 5 stars Received wrong DVD in Wrong Case
I ordered the DVD Dr. Jeckyll and Mr Hyde and today I opened up the dvd and the dvd inside the case is the Jackals. Really not what I ordered.
Published on January 17, 2012 by L. Cox
5.0 out of 5 stars an early classic with all of the peculiar genius of silent film
This is a must for any film buff: every gesture in this is significant and artfully rendered, even iconic. Read more
Published on April 9, 2011 by Robert J. Crawford
3.0 out of 5 stars Far from definitive, but worth a look - if you get the Kino NTSC...
Despite being one of his signature screen roles, John Barrymore's hugely successful 1920 version of Robert Louis Stevenson's oft-filmed tale is far from the definitive one - for... Read more
Published on December 19, 2010 by Trevor Willsmer
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