Directed by John S. Robertson [Other horror films: N/A]
One of two adaptations of Stevenson’s classic 1886 novella from 1920 (the other being a 40-minute short featuring Sheldon Lewis), Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde is another one of those classic silent horror flicks that many have probably heard of. The movie itself is perfectly fine, but before digging deeper, it’d only be fair to say that out of the classic horror/gothic novels (Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, Dracula, Frankenstein, among others), Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde has always been one of the least captivating stories for me.
The movie works, by and large, due to a combination of John Barrymore’s solid duel performance as both Jekyll and Hyde (*gasp* yes, they’re the same person) and keeping things within a proper pace for most of the flick. Aesthetically, it’s enjoyable (though lacking much of the art that foreign films at the time, especially those from Germany, tended to add), and the story is fine, despite not being a favorite.
Which is really what holds this movie back from being great, to me. Oh, I don’t question it’s importance (not only is there a solid transformation scene, but there was a pretty creepy scene with what looked like a ghostly giant spider crawling on Jekyll), but I never, no matter the adaptation (be it this flick, which I’ve seen multiple times before, the 1931 version, or any post-2000’s versions I’ve ran across) found myself captivated by it.
The most common print of this movie is around 50 minutes (which is coincidentally the version I have on DVD), but I instead opted out to watch the full one hour and 21 minute version. It certainly gave more story, but again, as I’m not a giant fan of the story, it just felt eh.
Solid pacing and Barrymore’s acting aside, I don’t love this movie. Plenty of other silent horror flicks stand out above this one for me (and some utterly obscure as opposed to this well-known film), and while it’s worth at least one view, I’m not sure it’s worth much more, in my estimation. This is not a bad movie, but it wasn’t my thing, and I found it a bit below average.