Silent Movie Rule #13: Don’t be pushy! John Barrymore will join the Bolshevik uprising when he is good and ready


Tempest was one of many silent Hollywood romances set around the Russian Revolution. One of the most troubled productions of its day, the film had a revolving door for directors and leading ladies. The resulting film reveals none of the backstage chaos and is a blast to watch.

The main plot is the romance between John Barrymore and Camilla Horn but there is also a subplot which involves Barrymore being pursued by a Bolshevik recruiter (played by Boris De Fast, one of the few actual Russians in the cast and he bore a stunning resemblance to Alfred P. Neuman). Barrymore is contemptuous at first but a stint in solitary, compliments of an aristocrat, changes his tune.

Plus it gave him a chance to do a “I’m MAAAAAAAD!!!!!” scene. Oh how he loved his madman scenes.

(Read my full-length review here.)

Availability: Tempest has two high-quality editions available for purchase. The Kino edition has a 1970s era piano score by William P. Perry. I prefer the Image edition, which allows viewers to choose between the original orchestral Vitaphone score and a new piano score by Philip Carli. I love the Carli score (the Vitaphone music is a bit jaunty for modern ears) and it is the reason why I recommend the Image edition.

Silent Movie Trivia #14: the Beloved Rogue (1927)

(click to view in lightbox)
(click to view in lightbox)

There’s no use pretending that The Beloved Rogue is subtle. It isn’t. John Barrymore and Conrad Veidt (in his American debut) shamelessly mug their way through medieval Paris. However, what it lack in understated style, it more than makes up for with audacity. This movie is a ton of fun, a reminder of just how wonderful silent swashbucklers could be even without Douglas Fairbanks, the undisputed king of the genre.

(You can read my full-length review here.)

Availability: The Beloved Rogue is widely available for sale on DVD and via streaming video. Both the Kino and the Image versions are good but the Kino version is still in print and easier to track down.

Fun Size Review: Sherlock Holmes (1922)


John Barrymore is Sherlock Holmes, college student. Our callow detective is soon matching wits with Professor Moriarty and romancing Griffith loan-out Carol Dempster. Disjointed and a bit dull but it is interesting to see Barrymore’s take on the character and to catch a very young William Powell in his very first movie role.


[toggler title=”How does it end? (click here for a spoiler)” ]Sherlock Holmes gets married (!) and heads off on his honeymoon, pausing only to arrest Moriarty.[/toggler]

(Read my full-length review here.)

If it were a dessert it would be:

tapioca parfait

Tapioca Parfaits. Looks good but it’s a bit on the dull side.

Availability: The restored version has been released on DVD, Blu-ray and via streaming by Kino Lorber.

Silent Movie Rule #4: Blowing raspberries is always the right answer.


As John Barrymore shows in The Beloved Rogue, the conclusion to a successful escape would be incomplete without a little bit of gloating. Thumbing one’s nose and giving a Bronx cheer is most definitely in order.

If you have only seen Barrymore’s talkie work, you are in for a treat when you see him in the silents. At his best, Mr. Barrymore is an intriguing blend of Errol Flynn, Hamlet and Daffy Duck.

(You can read my review of The Beloved Rogue here.)

Availability: The movie is available on DVD and via streaming.

Silent Movie Trivia Card #4: Don Juan (1926)

Click to view in lightbox
Click to view in lightbox

This Silent Movie Trivia Card concerns the 1926 romantic swashbuckler, Don Juan. It’s most famous for the epic duel between John Barrymore and Montagu Love and the fact that it was one of the earliest films released with a synchronized score. Noir fans will also enjoy the presence of Mary Astor playing the very opposite of the femme fatale. (You can read my review of the film here.)

Like last week’s card, the question revolves around a soon-t0-be-famous performer. In this case, a woman who was typecast as vamps but who would seen be famous as both a witty comedienne and America’s “perfect wife,” a title she despised.

Availability: Don Juan was released on DVD with its original score. While historically important, I must admit to not being a fan of the music. It’s just to fast, high and perky for the at-times dark tale.

Oooo, Moriarty just totally burned Sherlock! Animated GIF

sherlock-holmes-1922-john-barrymore-good-little-boyTo put things in context, John Barrymore’s Sherlock Holmes starts out has a college kid chasing after the mysterious Moriarty. Gustav von Seyffertitz the the villainous professor. Von Seyffertitz seemed to have it in for the Barrymore boys. He menaced John again in Don Juan and drove Lionel to madness in The Bells.

On the great Moriarty scale, I give von Seyffertitz a 7/10. Pretty darn good, especially considering that he is not in the film very much.

On an unrelated note, I love Moriarty’s brush-off and plan to use it next time I want to get rid of a college boy whom I have met only once.

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:


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.

Fun Size Review: Don Juan (1926)

don juan

John Barrymore is the famous lover who likes his ladies in both quality and quantity. He genuinely falls for Mary Astor’s virginal damsel and ends up incurring the wrath of the Borgias. The costumes are a visual banquet of the gorgeous and the bizarre. The famous duel is worth the price of admission but there is a lot of hamminess and overwrought love-making to get through as well.

If it were a dessert it would be:


A 27-Layer Rainbow Cake. Quantity and variety but maybe a bit too much.

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.


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.


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.


Standard Blu-ray case.


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.


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.”

You rogue! You cad! You naughty, naughty man! Animated GIF


This is everything I love about John Barrymore in one convenient GIF.

Here is the formula:

1 part Don Juan

1/2 part Mr. Hyde

1 part Hamlet

2 parts Daffy Duck

The GIF is from Tempest, one of my favorite Barrymore vehicles. (You can read my review here) While not as zany as his performance in The Beloved Rogue, it still has just enough goofiness to keep things interesting. You can never accuse the man of being boring!


Tempest isavailable on DVD and via streaming with both original and modern scores.

Fun Size Review: Raffles the Amateur Cracksman (1917)

John Barrymore is a gentleman crook out to steal a priceless necklace. Frank Morgan (aka, Oz the Great and Powerful) is his best pal Bunny. Yes, Bunny. A shady lady from John’s past threatens to ruin everything but our hero is clever and intrepid. Fun plot and story done in by plodding pace and way too many intertitles. Morgan and Barrymore are the best things in the film but they cannot save it.

Continue reading “Fun Size Review: Raffles the Amateur Cracksman (1917)”

Tempest (1928) A Silent Film Review

John Barrymore is a sergeant in the Russian army who dreams of winning an officer’s commission. But he hits a snag in the form of Camilla Horn, an imperious princess who seems to stumble him at every turn. Stripped of his rank, John goes a little mad and decides the Bolsheviks kind of have a point. The revolution is on, John is nuts, Camilla smolders and we have some grade-A entertainment.

No Shakespeare for you!

Continue reading “Tempest (1928) A Silent Film Review”

Fun Size Review: The Beloved Rogue (1927)

John Barrymore romps through medieval Paris playing a character best described as Robin Hood + Hobo + Bugs Bunny. His pranks cause him to run afoul of the crown. Conrad Veidt (in his American debut!) plays the king as a superstitious, nose-picking goblin. Oh, this movie is fabulous! It’s a double ham dinner with all the trimmings. Takes a turn for the serious near the end (boo!) but is an utter delight until then. One of silent Hollywood’s stranger offerings. See it.

Continue reading “Fun Size Review: The Beloved Rogue (1927)”

The Beloved Rogue (1927) A Silent Film Review

John Barrymore plays Francois Villon, the medieval French poet/thief who runs afoul of the eccentric King Louis XI (Conrad Veidt). But when the kingdom is threatened by the Duke of Burgundy, it is up to Villon to save the day. Oh, and there is naturally a lovely damsel. The most fun you can have in the Douglas Fairbanks manner without actually having Douglas Fairbanks participating.
Continue reading “The Beloved Rogue (1927) A Silent Film Review”