Fun Size Review: Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde (1920)

dr jekyll and mr hyde

John Barrymore rocketed to super-stardom with his bold double performance in this horror classic. Chews scenery and throats with equal relish. Perhaps a bit too much at times. He is ably supported by Martha Mansfield (Jekyll’s fiancee) and Nita Naldi (Hyde’s mistress). The makeup is justly famous, as are the spectacularly creepy visual effects.

If it were a dessert it would be:

(via lemondropfoodie.blogspot.com)

Dark Chocolate Oreo Cupcakes. It’s a cookie! It’s a cupcake! It’s light! It’s dark! One thing’s certain: it’s a classic.

Read my full-length review here.

Unboxing the Silents: Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde (Deluxe Edition Blu-ray)

(via Kino Lorber)
(via Kino Lorber)

Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde was John Barrymore’s breakthrough vehicle and is one of the most acclaimed American silent horror films. However, purchasing the film on home video has been a bit of a daunting task. There are dozens of versions available in varying lengths and image quality. Today, we are going to be taking a look at Kino Lorber’s upcoming deluxe edition.

Films

Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde (1920) John Barrymore (You can read my review of the film here.)

Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde (1912) James Cruze

Dr. Pykle and Mr. Pride (1925) Stan Laurel

15-minute cut of the rival 1920 version starring Sheldon Lewis.

Note: This edition contains most of the extras that were included in the 2001 DVD release with one notable addition, future director James Cruze’s 1912 version. The story is abbreviated (it is a one-reel film) but its enthusiasm is charming. I thoroughly enjoyed it.

The same cannot be said of the rival 1920 version. Sheldon Lewis is no John Barrymore and the whole film has a thrown-together vibe. Mr. Hyde stalks through the… sunny afternoons of New York? Normally, I would prefer to see the entire film rather than a 15-minute cut but I think the excerpt was a good call. Watch it to build even more appreciation for Barrymore and to get the jokes contained in Dr. Pyckle and Mr. Pride, the Stan Laurel-helmed spoof.

Dr. Pyckle is one of my favorite examples of Laurel’s solo work. I love how he turns Mr. Pride into a petty miscreant. Pride’s crimes include stealing ice cream from a child, tricking a gentleman into a Chinese finger trap and popping an inflated paper bag behind a young woman.

Music

The film is accompanied by an excellent score composed by Rodney Sauer and performed by the Mont Alto Motion Picture Orchestra. The extra features are accompanied by solo piano.

Packaging

Standard Blu-ray case.

Navigation

Excellent. Loads quickly and very easy to find your way around.

How does it measure up to the 2001 Kino release?

While the 2001 Kino version was the handsomest edition available when it was released, it did have a few minutes of footage missing from the print, with the film clocking in at 73 minutes. The new 2014 edition has restored that footage and comes in at 79 minutes.

I must emphasize that the previously missing material does not directly affect the story but it does flesh out some elements. You will notice it the most in the poison ring scene. Nita Naldi narrates the tale of her Italian ring with a compartment for poison, which leads to a historical flashback of the ring in use. The old version showed a man being poisoned and a jester looking on with glee. In the new version, we see how and why the poison was used, which makes Jekyll’s use of the ring at the climax much clearer.

Overall, I am very happy with the upgrade in image quality that the Blu-ray edition brings.

Buy?

Yes! This version of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde is easily the best available on the market. The addition of missing footage, high-definition transfer and the inclusion of the 1912 version make this a worthy upgrade. I reviewed Blu-ray edition but the deluxe release also available on DVD. It will be released on January 28, 2014.

***

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received a copy of this film for free for the purpose of reviewing it on my blog. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”