Dr. Jeckyll and Mr. Hyde (1920)
Genre: Silent Horror Drama Sci-Fi
Directed By: John S. Robertson
Overview: The good and virtuous Dr. Jeckyll concocts a potion that transforms him to the evil Mr. Hyde, a form in which he can indulge in all the sins a good Christian would not even dare contemplate.
Acting: John Barrymore, in the role of both Jeckyll and Hyde is quite astounding, if I do say so myself. The obvious pain his body goes in the transformation is perfectly portrayed and Hyde is such a creepy dude! He pulls it off masterfully. The rest of the actors though are stuffy, weak and directed in such a boring fashion that you'll regret that this is 90 minutes long.
Cinematography: The opulence of Dr. Jeckyll's manor versus the decrepit people at his free 'body repair shop' (medical clinic), the winding streets and the smoky pub, these all have the potential of greatness. I suppose under the masterful care of a man like F.W. Murnau, it could have been amazing, but under the guidance of Robertson, it's a total flop. The best part is Hyde and we hardly see enough of him to make it worthwhile. Very boring film.
Script: This, on the other hand, was very well done. We have intertitles with pictures, lots of talking and an indepth story. The philosophy behind the experiment is extensively discussed and it leaves very little to interpretation. As silent films that stem from novels go, this is typical. They left what was good about the author's words. Too bad about the stuff in between.
Plot: The overall premise seems to go against everything Christian there is in our main character. That kind of kicks the whole story in the teeth. Here we have a man, Good as good can be and someone suggests to him that if a man could be split up into his two parts, Good and Evil, then the Evil could do what it pleased and the Good soul would be 'free of the devil', as they say. I'm sorry but who in his right mind believes that changing into something whose natural instinct is evil spares you from any responsibility? Are you dense?! Otherwise an all too slow, too predictable silent film.
Mood: The worst silent film has to offer. Slow, bad lighting and quality, common single piano plinking music and a lot of men talking in top hats with cigars. If you start a silent film study with this, it'll turn you right off the whole thing.
Overall Rating: 48% (Dr. Crapple and Run And Hide)
Aftertaste: This isn't the story of a person who turns into the Incredible Hulk and goes on to do great feats of strength, or some guy who changes into something else for a woman (unless it's just to be lascivious). It's just about a 'good' guy who decides that he wants to be a perverse man-whore and for some reason thinks that his soul will be free of his actions. So far horror of the 20s is really disappointing and not at all scary. I guess that's one genre that has stayed strong in it's mire since the beginning of time... Oh wait, Nosferatu kicked ass!