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Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde

USA 1920
produced by
Adolph Zukor for Paramount
directed by John S. Robertson
starring John Barrymore, Brandon Hurst, Martha Mansfield, Charles Lane, Cecil Clovelly, Nita Naldi, Louis Wolheim, George Stevens, J. Malcolm Dunn, Julia Hurley
screenplay by Clara Beranger, based on the novel by Robert Louis Stevenson

Jekyll and Hyde

review by
Mike Haberfelner

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Young Henry Jekyll (John Barrymore) is a man as noble as they come: He has dedicated his life to medical research, runs a clinic for the poor on the side, and knows virtually nothing about temptation and vice. So he seems to be pretty much the perfect mate for virtuous Millicent (Martha Mansfield). But of all people Millicent's father Sir George (Brandon Hurst) believes young Henry is wasting his life away, and thus takes him to a music hall, where Henry falls for the charm of a dancer, Gina (Nita Naldi), an emotion all new to him. So he develops a serum that will separate the virtuous from the baser instincts, make them into seperate persons pretty much. He's very successful at that, too ... too successful it turns out, as every time he takes the serum he turns into hideous Mr. Hyde, a base creature that indulges in every vice imaginable, including heavy drinking and partying, having business with prostitutes, and taking Gina as his mate, and later ditching her at the drop of a hat. Of course, Jekyll keeps this secret from everyone, but he enjoys being Hyde so much that he takes the serum more and more often, despite his conscience telling him otherwise. Jekyll's friends start to worry about him, as he more and more drops from sight, but when they go to investigate, they only run into Hyde, who kills a street urchin in an accident then tries to pay up with a check signed by Jekyll - which gets the friends suspicious. Sir George goes to see Jekyll on his daughter's behalf, and actually sees him turn into Hyde, something he has to pay with his life. After that, Jekyll vows never to become Hyde again, gets rid of all the serum, and tries to resume his virtuous life. But it turns out he doesn't need the serum anymore to turn into Hyde, and thus he locks himself inside his lab to not cause any more trouble. But somehow Millicent manages to gain access to Jekyll's lab, and Jekyll, in his Hyde persona, poisons himself rather than causing her any harm.


A rather faithful adaptation of Robert Louis Stevenson's novel, this movie, more than most that followed, gets the drug-like aspects of Jekyll's serum right, and thus doesn't make Hyde a separate (evil) entity that he is so many later movies, but a direct result from Jekyll's addiction to Hyde - and as a consequence the blame for all that's happening is squarely put on Jekyll's shoulders, as Hyde is little more than a result of his addictions. That of course is thanks to clever writing and a very strong and compelling performance from John Barrymore. Direction-wise, the film might seem a bit stale compared to other horror extravaganzas from the silent era, but its slowburn, subtle approach serves the story well.

Worth a look for sure.


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review © by Mike Haberfelner


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Robots and rats,
demons and potholes,
cuddly toys and
shopping mall Santas,
love and death and everything in between,
Tales to Chill
Your Bones to

is all of that.


Tales to Chill
Your Bones to
a collection of short stories and mini-plays
ranging from the horrific to the darkly humourous,
from the post-apocalyptic
to the weirdly romantic,
tales that will give you a chill and maybe a chuckle, all thought up by
the twisted mind of
screenwriter and film reviewer
Michael Haberfelner.


Tales to Chill
Your Bones to

the new anthology by
Michael Haberfelner


Out now from




On the same day
a Burglar wants to kill you
and your Ex wants
to make up ...
... and for the life of it,
you can't decide


A Killer Conversation

produced by and starring
Melanie Denholme
directed by
David V.G. Davies
written by
Michael Haberfelner
Ryan Hunter and
Rudy Barrow

out now on DVD