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Mental Illness: Major Films  
TitleDr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde (1920)
Alternative/Original Title
GenreHorror Allegory
DirectorJohn S. Robertson
CastJohn Barrymore Brandon Hurst Martha Mansfield Charles Lane Cecil Clovelly Nita Naldi J. Malcolm Dunn George Stevens Louis Wolheim Alma Aiken.
NotesB/W, Silent In some ways black and white, silent films can handle this sort of material well since we are already making a leap of imagination to react to a style so different from what we are used to. Hence we're better able to suspend disbelief and respond to the message of Stevenson's story, as well as the horror. Dr. Jekyll, a London doctor, is persuaded by a friend to visit a music hall. The repressed Jekyll is aroused by a dancer but when she touches him he runs away. Having tasted the 'evil' of desire Jekyll explores how he might split his conscience from his desire and enjoy the latter without his soul being sullied. He achieves this through a potion which transforms him, into Mr. Hyde, and he is able to venture 'into the night' and satisfy his lust. Interestingly in this early film Barrymore changes from Dr. Jekyll to Mr. Hyde not through make-up but facial expression. And in this version unlike others we cannot say his face, as the evil Hyde, is disfigured. The more Jekyll takes the potion to become Mr. Hyde the less he is able to return to being Jekyll. And the two sides of man become less distinct. See also: 1. Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde (1941) Spencer Tracy and Ingrid Bergman, Tracy shows more the inner turmoil rather than the outer transformation. 2. The Son of Dr. Jekyll (1951) The son is not quite a chip off the old block. He never gets to be Mr. Hyde jnr.. 3. Abbott and Costello Meet Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde (1953) Daughter of Dr. Jekyll (1957) 4. The Two Faces of Dr. Jekyll (1960) Title rather states the obvious and the film is one of those where you laugh at the wrong moments. 5. Dr. Jekyll and Sister Hyde (1972) the evil side of Jekyll becomes a woman. 6. Dr. Heckyl and Mr. Hype (1980) Comedy in which an ugly Dr. Heckyl becomes the handsome Mr. Hype. 7. Jekyll and Hyde. . . Together Again (1982) Comedy version with Mark Blankfield. Jekyll and Hyde (1990) US/UK TV film with Michael Caine, glossy but uninteresting. 8. Dr. Jekyll and Ms. Hyde (1995) The old story brought up to date in more ways than one. Jekyll's grandson changes into Sean Young so this cannot be disfigurement? In fact it's just a silly, unfunny variation with Mrs. Jekyll becoming jealous. Note also that The Nutty Professor (1963 with Jerry Lewis) (1997 with Eddie Murphy) are loosely based on Stevenson's novel.

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