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Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde Deluxe Edition (a J!-ENT Blu-ray Disc Review)

January 18, 2014 by  



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If you are a cineaste who wants to watch one of the first American horror films ever created or just a person who wants to experience a silent horror film on Blu-ray, “Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde Deluxe Edition” is definitely recommended!

Images courtesy of © 2014 Kino Lorber Inc. All Rights Reserved.

TITLE: Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde Deluxe Edition

FILM RELEASE: 1920

DURATION: 79 Minutes

BLU-RAY DISC INFORMATION: 1080p High Definition, 1:33:1,  English Intertitles

COMPANY: Kino Classics

RATED: Not Rated

Release Date: January 28, 2014

Directed by John S. Robertson

Written by Robert Louis Stevenson

Scenario by Clara Beranger

Produced by Adolph Zukor

Music compiled by Rodney Sauer, Performed by the Mont Alto Motion Picture Orchestra

Cinematography by Roy F. Overbaugh

Art Direction by Clark Robinson

Set Decoration by Charles O. Seessel

Starring:

John Barrymore as Dr. Henry Jekyll/Mr. Edward Hyde

Brandon Hurst as Sir George Carewe

Martha Mansfield as Millicent Carewe

Charles Lane as Dr. Lanyon

Cecil Clovelly as Edward Enfield

Nita Naldi as Miss Gina

Based on the Robert Louis Stevenson story: Doctor Henry Jekyll’s enthusiasm for science and his selfless acts of service have made him a much-admired man. But as he visits Sir George Carew one evening, his host criticizes him for his reluctance to experience the more sensual side of life. Sir George goads Jekyll into visiting a music hall, where he watches the alluring dancer Gina. Jekyll becomes fascinated with the two contrasting sides of human nature, and he becomes obsessed with the idea of separating them. After extensive work in his laboratory, he devises a formula that does indeed allow him to alternate between two completely different personalities, his own and that of a brutish, lascivious person whom he names Hyde. It is not long before the personality of Hyde begins to dominate Jekyll’s affairs.

Back in 1886, Scottish author Robert Louis Stevenson created the novella “Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde”.

The novella was a major success in Europe and the United States and stage adaptations followed soon after.

And since the novella’s release, there have been over a hundred stage and film adaptations, all which are loosely based on Stevenson’s original story.

In cinema, there was a 1908 silent film created in the U.S. but no version of this film exists today, including a 1910 version created in Denmark.

While there have been various versions of the film created between 1910-1920, three films were released in 1920, one by director Charles Haydon, another by F.W. Murnau (which is lost) and the John S. Robertson film starring John Barrymore.  A version that follows the 1887 Thomas Russell Sullivan 1887 stage play and also includes elements of Oscar Wilde’s 1890 novel, “The Picture of Dorian Gray”.

Of the silent films that is publicly known is the John Barrymore version which has been released on DVD by Kino Lorber as part of the Johny Barrymore collection and in 2014, the film will be released on Blu-ray as “Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde Deluxe Edition”.

This 1920 film version has been mastered in HD from archival 35 mm elements and features a new musical score compiled by Rodney Sauer, performed by the Mont Alto Motion Picture Orchestra.

The deluxe edition also includes the 1912 Thanhouser Company version, based on Richard Mansfield’s stage performance and stars James Cruze and Florence Labadie.

Also, included is the 15-minute cut of the other 1920 American released of “Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde” directed by Charles Haydon and stars Sheldon Lewis, and was produced by Louis B. Mayer.

Plus the inclusion of the 1925 slapstick parody starring Stan Laurel titled “Dr. Pyckle and Mr. Pride” and a rare 1909 audio recording of “The Transformation Scene”.

The film revolves around Henry Jekyll (portrayed by John Barrymore), a well-respected physician but also an idealist and philanthropist.

He treats the poor at his free clinic and often experimenting in his laboratory.

Dr. Jekyll is also engaged to Millicent (portrayed by Martha Mansfield) but her father, Sir George Carew (portrayed by Brandon Hurst) doesn’t believe that a person that is good-hearted can exist.

So, one day, Sir George Carew and his friends which include Edward Enfield (portrayed by Cecil Clovelly), Dr. Lanyon (portrayed by Charles Lane) and Utterson (portrayed by J. Malcolm Dunn), bring Henry to dinner, but talk to him that by devoting his life for the greater good, he is also neglecting his own personal life.

Jekyll doesn’t think so.  Believing that by serving others, he can develop oneself.

But that is when Sir George Carew brings up the question, “Which self? Man has two – as he has two hands.  Because I use my right hand, should I never use my left?”

And so, Sir George brings him to a bar with a dancer and pays the handler of the dancer to seduce Henry Jekyll.

Afterward, Dr. Lanyon and Dr. Jekyll discuss Sir George Carew’s ways and how is a good father and protective of Millicent but at the same time, he can be another person.  But what if man can separate the good versus the bad from a person.    Which then leads Dr. Jekyll to be intrigued by the thought.  What if it was possible?

Dr. Lanyon tells Dr. Jekyll that it’s going against God and to not think of such a thing.  But Dr. Jekyll, so intrigued by it, begins experimenting on a potion on himself.

Dr. Jekyll suddenly becomes a grotesque man, which he names Edward Hyde.  While still retaining the mind of Dr. Jekyll, he begins planning another potion to bring him back as Dr. Jekyll, but also taking precautions with his wealth by giving all his belongings to Edward Hyde, in case, anything happens to him.

But having tasted a side that Dr. Jekyll has not experienced and now part of him wants to retain the good side, but also unleash the animal who has now been unleashed and can act upon any indiscretion that he wants.

So, Edward Hyde takes on another home in the bad part of London, he starts to frequent the area to meet with the dancer, Gina (portrayed by Nita Naldi), who talks to him about a ring that has a secret compartment for poison and where the ring originated.

But next thing you know, the more sadistic nature of Edward Hyde starts to take over and push any sign of good that Dr. Jekyll has out of him.

Edward Hyde, who’s features start to look more and more grotesque, begins to ravage women and also kill.

Meanwhile, Millicent becomes worried that she has not seen much of Dr. Jekyll.  Meanwhile, Sir George encounters Edward Hyde and starts to wonder what is the connection between this grotesque man and his soon-to-be son-in-law.

As for Dr. Jekyll, can he find a way to prevent the evil Edward Hyde from controlling his entire body?

VIDEO:

“Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde Deluxe Edition” is presented in 1080p High Definition.  For those familiar with Kino Lorber Blu-rays, the company does not do any cleanup or restoration work, so the scratches, lines and any damage that was seen in the previous DVD remains in the Blu-ray release.

While not a pristine version of the film that has its share of white specks, dirt and minimal damage, one major difference between the Blu-ray and DVD is the clarity.  Faces and environments seem much clearer and more detailed.  Millicent’s eyes are much more detailed, Edward Hyde’s evil features look much more ominous and creepy and whites and grays are much better contrast, while black levels are nice and deep.

AUDIO & SUBTITLES:

“Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde Deluxe Edition” is presented in DTS-HD MA 5.1, featuring a musical score by Rodney Sauer, performed by the Mont Alto Motion Picture Orchestra.

SPECIAL FEATURES:

“Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde Deluxe Edition” features the following special features:

  • Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde – (13:48) The 1912 Thanhouser version starring James Cruze (courtesy of Film Preservation Associates).
  • Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde – (14:44)  The 1920 15-minute excerpt of the rival 1920 version starring Sheldon Lewis and produced by Louis B. Mayer.  Music by Rodney Sauer.
  • Dr. Pyckle and Mr. Pride – (21:27) A 1925 Stan Laurel parody featuring piano by Rodney Sauer.
  • The Transformation Scene – (3:05) A 78 rpm audio recording features a sample of a theatrical interpretation of “Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde”.

“Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde” has been considered one of the first great American horror films, the film features one of the biggest starts of the silent era, John Barrymore (brother of Lionel Barrymore and Ethel Barrymore and grandfather of Drew Barrymore) and “Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde” was among his greatest silent films that he has made in his oeuvre.

One must put themselves in the shoes of the audience member who had watched this film for its time.  A horror film in which a kind and caring man, after taking a potion, suddenly turns to a vile, vampiric like creature, attacking, perhaps raping and killing whoever.

I can imagine that audiences back in 1920, were freaked out about the transformation.  One newspaper called Edward Hyde “gruesome”, while others hailed the performance of stage actor, John Barrymore (at the time, many of his peers on stage, felt that he was squandering his talents in cinema, which was thought at the time to be a poor imitation of theatrical stage).

Film critic Carl Sandburg wrote in his review, “this photo play stands as something equal to -probably surpassing-the narrative delivered as a novel by Robert Louis Stevenson.  Not many screen actors can make comparison with the stage actor, John Barrymore, in depicting two characters struggling within one man”.

And this is the efficacy of this John Barrymore classic, his performance as the suave and kind Dr. Jekyll and seeing him turn into this monster was well-done.  Makeup design was very good for Edward Hyde and today’s modern viewers can no doubt appreciate this very early American horror film.

But as for the release of “Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde Deluxe Edition” on Blu-ray, it does feature the fantastic features that the original 2001 Kino DVD such as the Stan Laurel one reeler “Dr. Pyckle and Mr. Pride”, the rare audio recording of “The Transformation Scene”, excerpts from the rival 1920 version of “Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde” plus the 1912 Thanhouser version.

As for those who own the original DVD and wonder if they should upgrade, it depends if you want an HD version of the film and if you have the equipment to watch in HD.  Also, if you want the 1912 Thanhouser version plus a longer excerpt of the 1920 film, then it’s another incentive to own this film on Blu-ray.  But the original 2001 DVD was great for its time (and also has text based reviews of the film which not included in the Blu-ray release) but of course, if you want better picture and audio quality and extra special features, the Blu-ray release is the way to go.

Overall, this is one of John Barrymore’s classic silent films and one can only hope that Kino Lorber intends to bring his other well-known films to Blu-ray in the near future.

If you are a cineaste who wants to watch one of the first American horror films ever created or just a person who wants to experience a silent horror film on Blu-ray, “Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde Deluxe Edition” is definitely recommended!

 






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