John Barrymore - Rotten Tomatoes

John Barrymore



Like his brother Lionel and his sister Ethel, American actor John Barrymore had early intentions to break away from the family theatrical tradition and become an artist, in the "demonic" style of Gustav Doré. But acting won out; thanks to his natural flair and good looks, Barrymore was a matinee idol within a few seasons after his 1903 stage debut. His best-known Broadway role for many years was as an inebriated wireless operator in the Dick Davis farce The Dictator. On stage and in silent films (including a 1915 version of The Dictator), John was most at home in comedies. His one chance for greatness occurred in 1922, when he played Hamlet; even British audiences hailed Barrymore's performance as one of the best, if not the best, interpretation of the melancholy Dane. Eventually, Barrymore abandoned the theatre altogether for the movies, where he was often cast more for his looks than his talent. Perhaps in revenge against Hollywood "flesh peddlers," Barrymore loved to play roles that required physical distortion, grotesque makeup, or all-out "mad" scenes; to him, his Dr. Jeckyll and Mr. Hyde (1920) was infinitely more satisfying than Don Juan (1926). When talkies came in, Barrymore's days as a romantic lead had passed, but his exquisite voice and superb bearing guaranteed him stronger film roles than he'd had in silents; still, for every Grand Hotel (1932), there were the gloriously hammy excesses of Moby Dick (1930) and Svengali (1931). Unfortunately, throughout his life, Barrymore was plagued by his taste for alcohol, and his personal problems began catching up with him in the mid-1930s. From Romeo and Juliet(1936) onward, the actor's memory had become so befuddled that he had to recite his lines from cue cards, and from The Great Profile (1940) onward, virtually the only parts he'd get were those in which he lampooned his screen image and his offstage shenanigans. In 1939, at the behest of his latest wife Elaine Barrie, Barrymore returned to the stage in My Dear Children, a second-rate play that evolved into a freak show as Barrymore's performance deteriorated and he began profanely ad-libbing, and behaving outrageously during the play's run. Sadly, the more Barrymore debased himself in public, the more the public ate it up, and My Dear Children was a hit, as were his humiliatingly hilarious appearances on Rudy Vallee's radio show. To paraphrase his old friend and drinking companion Gene Fowler, Barrymore had gone over Niagara Falls in a barrel; we are lucky indeed that he left a gallery of brilliant film portrayals before the fall.

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Filmography

MOVIES

RATING TITLE CREDIT YEAR
No Score Yet Judy Garland's Hollywood
  • Actor
1997
No Score Yet That's Entertainment, Part 2
  • Actor
1976
No Score Yet Yesterday And Today
  • Actor
1953
No Score Yet Playmates
  • John Barrymore
1941
No Score Yet The Invisible Woman
  • Prof. Gibbs
1940
92% Midnight
  • George Flammarion
1939
No Score Yet The Great Man Votes
  • Vance
1939
No Score Yet The Green Goddess
  • Actor
1939
No Score Yet Land of Liberty
  • Actor
1939
No Score Yet Hold That Co-Ed
  • Governor
1938
No Score Yet Marie Antoinette
  • King Louis XV
1938
No Score Yet Spawn of the North
  • Windy
1938
No Score Yet Bulldog Drummond's Peril
  • Col. Neilson
1938
No Score Yet Bulldog Drummond's Revenge
  • Col. J.A. Nielson
1937
No Score Yet Bulldog Drummond Comes Back
  • Col. Neilson
1937
No Score Yet True Confession
  • Charles "Charley" Jasper
1937
No Score Yet Maytime
  • Nicolai Nazaroff
1937
75% Romeo and Juliet
  • Mercutio
1936
88% Twentieth Century
  • Oscar Jaffe
1934
100% Counsellor at Law
  • George Simon
1933
No Score Yet Night Flight
  • Riviere
1933
100% Dinner at Eight
  • Larry Renault
1933
No Score Yet Rasputin and the Empress
  • Prince Paul Chegodieff
1933
No Score Yet Topaze
  • Professor Auguste A. Topaze
1933
No Score Yet Arsene Lupin
  • Duke of Charmerace
1932
86% Grand Hotel
  • Baron von Gaigern
1932
No Score Yet A Bill of Divorcement
  • Hilary Fairfield
1932
83% Svengali
  • Svengali
1931
No Score Yet The Mad Genius
  • Vladimar Ivan Tsarakov
1931
No Score Yet State's Attorney
  • Tom Cardigan
1931
No Score Yet Moby Dick
  • Capt. Ahab
1930
No Score Yet The Man from Blankley's
  • Lord Strathpeffer
1930
No Score Yet The Show Of Shows
  • Actor
1929
No Score Yet Eternal Love
  • Marcus Paltram
1929
No Score Yet Tempest
  • Sgt. Ivan Markov
1928
No Score Yet When A Man Loves
  • Chevalier Fabien des Grieux
1927
No Score Yet The Beloved Rogue
  • Francois Villon
1927
No Score Yet Don Juan
  • Don Juan
1926
No Score Yet The Sea Beast
  • Ahab Ceeley
1926
No Score Yet Beau Brummel
  • Gordon Bryon `Beau' Brummel
1924
No Score Yet Sherlock Holmes
  • Sherlock Holmes
1922
92% Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde
  • Dr. Jekyll/Mr. Hyde
1920
No Score Yet Raffles, the Amateur Cracksman
  • A.J. Raffles
1917

Quotes from John Barrymore's Characters

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