Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde (1920)

Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde (1920), directed by John S. Robertson.

John Barrymore gives an intense performance in this early silent edition. In this version the doctor is an innocent philanthropist lead astray by rowdy companions who take him to a seedy musical hall. A lithe dancer awakens the beast within.

Hyde's makeup adjusts the shape of his skull and gives him longer fingers. He has teeth that are wicked looking without being anatomically impossible.

I saw this after the later films and it was of most interest as a comparison to the others. It was made before 1920s women fashions came in so their dresses and hair are extra-antique looking. Well, it is supposed to be set in the 1880s anyway.

Unique in this film:

Curiously, this version retains details from the original story omitted by other treatments:

Some cast notes:

Available on Blu-ray from Kino. We have print damage throughout and quality varies from "rather respectable given the extreme age of the source" to that familiar degraded silent film look: dark and blurry with vignetted corners.

Several short films are included as extras:

Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde (1912).

An 11-minutes one-reel feature. I love the no-studio look of those wild filmmaking days: just go outside and shoot it.

See the little girl in the second image below? That is Marie Eline, who made 100 films in 4 years for the Thanhouser Company, and was known as "the Thanhouser Kid".


Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde (1920), directed by Charles J. Hayden.

A 14 minute fragment of a 40 minute original feature.

Note that there was third version of the story in 1920, directed by F.W. Murnau, now lost: The Head of Janus (1920).


Dr. Pyckle and Mr. Pryde (1925).

A 21 minute spoof on the earlier versions with Stan Laurel. When transformed he becomes a mad practical joker, stealing kids' ice cream and afflicting bystanders with a pea shooter.



From the 1920 Barrymore version: