Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde

1920

Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde

Critics Consensus

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92%

TOMATOMETER

Total Count: 13

68%

Audience Score

User Ratings: 2,991
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Movie Info

In 1920, filmgoers were treated to no fewer than two different film versions of Robert Louis Stevenson's Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. In this one, John Barrymore plays the humanitarian Dr. Henry Jekyll, who becomes obsessed with the notion of separating the good and evil impulses within every man. To this end, he develops a potion which unleashes his own darker side: the demonic Mr. Hyde. This was the adaptation which established the cliché of having both a "good" and "bad" leading lady, to parallel the doppelganger aspects of the Jekyll/Hyde personality. Martha Mansfield is the good girl, while Nita Naldi, wearing costumes that were daring indeed in 1920, is the bad one. The adaptors also borrowed the character of Lord Henry from Oscar Wilde's The Picture of Dorian Gray in order to provide Jekyll with an evil mentor/blackmailer. Sadly, Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde proved to be one of the last starring films for leading lady Martha Mansfield: she died horribly during filming of The Warrens of Virginia (1924) when her costume touched a discarded match and burst into flame.

Cast

John Barrymore
as Dr. Jekyll/Mr. Hyde
Martha Mansfield
as Millicent Carew
Brandon Hurst
as Sir George Carew
Nita Naldi
as Therese
Charles Lane
as Dr. Richard Lanyon
Malcolm J. Dunn
as John Utterson
Cecil Clovelly
as Edward Enfield
Louis Wolheim
as Emcee in Music Hall
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Critic Reviews for Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde

All Critics (13) | Top Critics (1) | Fresh (12) | Rotten (1)

  • The Stevenson story serves as the premise for an early (1921) appearance by John Barrymore, who plays the transformation scene -- very effectively -- without the aid of trick photography.

    Sep 26, 2007 | Full Review…
  • One of the first significant American horror movies, and an interesting contrast to the same year's other, more important genre milestone, Germany's 'The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari.'

    Jan 31, 2014 | Rating: 3/4 | Full Review…
  • A wig, hairy prosthetic hands, and a slouched posture were all Barrymore needed to bring Stevenson's defining creation to life, and he did so with gusto.

    Jan 23, 2014 | Rating: 7/10 | Full Review…
  • This was the picture that made Barrymore a household name.

    Mar 8, 2011 | Rating: A- | Full Review…
  • The split persona at the center of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde hews intriguingly close to the personal foibles of star John Barrymore.

    Jul 6, 2009 | Rating: 2.5/4 | Full Review…
  • One of three 1920 adaptations of Robert Louis Stevenson's classic allegorical chiller, the Paramount Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde is remembered primarily for John Barrymore's bravura performance as the title duo.

    Sep 26, 2007 | Rating: 3/4 | Full Review…

Audience Reviews for Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde

  • May 03, 2013
    John Barrymore stars as the good scientist who develops a potion that unlocks his wicked side in this silent adaptation of the Robert Louis Stevenson classic. As usual, Jekyll is a bore and Hyde is a blast---here, he looks like a hairy skeleton with a pin-head---and the scenes of Victorian depravity, with Hyde visiting prostitutes and opium dens and abusing the lost souls there for his amusement, are solid pre-Code fun. Holds its own against the talkie versions.
    Greg S Super Reviewer
  • Dec 21, 2010
    Not the first version and not the best either, if you know the story it's predictable and boring. The characters aren't very interesting, the main actor, Barrymore, is pretty good, but other than that, I didn't care for this version.
    Aj V Super Reviewer
  • Nov 02, 2009
    A classic treatment of a classic tale. Barrymore, as usual, is superb in his dual role of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde; while make-up and lighting definitely played a part in the now-famous transformation, it is Barrymore himself that exhibits the starkest contrast between the two halves of the main character's personality through his posture, facial expressions, and exaggerated mannerisms (all, of course, without the use of sound), setting the stage for all future actors who would take on this challenging role (Fredric March, who would win an Oscar for his portrayal of Jekyll/ Hyde some dozen years after this film was made, must certainly have studied Barrymore's performance and likely took several pages from his book). As with most cinematic adaptations of Stevenson's famous 1885 novel, this film does away with the lawyer Utterson as the focal character (and replaces him with the Doctor himself, like virtually all films of this sort do), yet it does indeed utilize more elements from the source text than most, although they generally appear in different places in the cinematic narative (mostly toward the end). All in all, a remarkable silent film, and one that is recommended to fans of either the Stevenson novel or of silent horror films in general.
    Buddy A Super Reviewer
  • Oct 08, 2009
    So, I sat down to watch John S. Robertson's version of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. Starring John Barrymore, one of the greatest actors to ever grace the screen. To say the least I was incredibly bored. I understand that this movie is for a different time and i understand that John Barrymore's acting is superb or whatnot. Come on! This is dry, very very dry. I couldn't stomach watching it for more than 15 min before i just began skipping ahead to watch the transformation scene or the ending. You can definitely see where film has gone, from the turn of the century to the 1920's. The story feels more in depth and it looks to me that they have a lot more money to play around with. It does pay off with the transformation scene, when Dr. Jekyll becomes Mr. Hyde. Although i do believe that Edison's Frankenstein has this trumped on the Special Effects side of things, and that was done way earlier and with less money. John Barrymore's acting cant save this "Masterpiece" from making you fall asleep. The soundtrack, although added way later, doesn't serve this piece well either. If you don't believe me you can go ahead and watch it for your self, http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ho8-vK0L1_8. On a scare scale i give this film 4/10. Try again Sid
    Brandon S Super Reviewer

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