When it comes to silent horror films, John Barrymore’s performance in 1920’s Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde is one of the best of the genre; it easily ranks up there with Max Schreck’s in Nosferatu and Lon Chaney’s in The Phantom of the Opera. The story of Dr. Jekyll has been adapted for film, television, radio, and the stage numerous times in the 94 years since this version was released. But it’s John Barrymore’s masterful performance that makes this version remain one of the absolute best versions you will ever see.
On January 28th, Kino Lorber will be giving Barrymore’s Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde the royal treatment it deserves with a new Blu-Ray/DVD release. Kino has long been one of my favorite companies for DVDs. In terms of picture quality and bonus features, Kino has always delivered. Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde is my first time checking out one of Kino’s Blu-Ray releases and I am thrilled with it. The picture quality is, for the most part, excellent. There are a few scenes that aren’t as clear as the rest of the film, but they don’t significantly detract from the movie’s overall quality. The quality of a Blu-Ray/DVD release can only be as good as the source material available and fortunately, Kino had 35mm elements in great condition to work with and they are presented here in beautiful 1080p. This new Blu-Ray/DVD release also features a wonderful score by the Mont Alto Motion Picture Orchestra and includes five minutes of footage that had been missing from Kino’s previous DVD release of Dr. Jekyll.
The new Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde Blu-Ray/DVD also includes a 12-minute version of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde from 1912, a 15-minute excerpt from a rival production of Dr. Jekyll also released in 1920, a rare audio recording from 1909 titled “The Transformation Scene,” and 1925’s Dr. Pyckle and Mr. Pride starring Stan Laurel. (Fun fact: Dr. Pyckle and Mr. Pride was written by Tay Garnett, who went on to direct 1932’s One Way Passage, 1935’s China Seas, and 1946’s The Postman Always Rings Twice.) Dr. Pyckle and the 1912 version of Dr. Jekyll both look quite good, but the excerpt from the rival 1920 production doesn’t look as sharp.
Disclosure: I received a review copy from Kino Lorber.